Tombstones BulldozedTombstones are being bulldozed in a section of the former Dryland Church Cemetery in Hecktown, where a living memorial will be erected in the future.Harold Fabian, head of the Dryland Graveyard Assn., said that the site, dating back to the 1750s, will be marked by a central monument with a standard placed nearby listing the names of those buried on the grounds.The graveyard, over a period of time, will be regraded and seeded so as to be “presentable to the rest of the community,” Fabian explained. No graves will be touched, he added.The Rev. Robert Herman, pastor of the Hecktown Trinity Lutheran Church, commenting on the work being done, said: “The wind gets terrific up there, blowing over the brittle stones and breaking them. A lawnmower couldn’t get through there.”It is estimated that approximately 50 tons of topsoil will be needed to complete the work.Fabian stressed that “considerable time will be required before the changeover is completed.” Repairs attempted in the early 1960s were not successful, the Rev. Mr. Herman said earlier.It was also pointed out that further attempts at repair work would have involved “tremendous costs” that could not be underwritten.
In 1899, John Eyerman recorded the epitaphs at Dryland for persons who were born before 1780, noting:
The Dryland Church-Yard is situated at Hecktown in Lower Nazareth township, eight miles W. of Easton. It w as laid out between the years 1760 and 1770. The present Church, a well-built structure adjoining the yard, was erected in the year 1842. The entire property is well-kept. Unfortunately, the inscriptions on some of the older stones have become quite illegible; this is particularly noticeable on the Potsdam sand-stone.—John Eyerman, The Old Grave-Yards of Northampton and Adjacent Counties in the State of Pennsylvania (Easton: Oakhurst House private press), pp. 14-20.
Hecktown Union Graveyard Feeling Effects of Years
The years are beginning to take their toll at the old Union Graveyard in Hecktown.
Headstones and markers “have become dangerous and have fallen into disrepair,” but a move to change it all is being made by the Dryland Graveyard Association, Inc.
A meeting has been called for 6 p.m. Aug. 23 when members of the association have invited interested parties to hear the plans and voice any objections they may have.
“We are interested in getting the graveyard to look the way it should,” William Day, secretary of the association, explained.
“It’s falling apart. What we are trying to do is to beautify the environment.”
“In the one section,” he added, “there are only six flower pots,”—an indication of the number of descendants still around.
More than 1,000 men, women, and children were buried in the nearly five-acre plot behind Trinity Church between 1740 and the 1950s.
There are veterans of the Revolutionary War, the Spanish-American War, the War of 1812, Civil War, World War I … and there are Indians.
Opening of the graveyard predates the organization of the union arrangement between Trinity Lutheran Church and Dryland Evangelical and Reformed Church in 1763.
The Rev. Robert L. Herman, Lutheran pastor, reported that as far back as 1763, however, anyone who paid a nickel a week to the church ($2.60 a year) was entitled to a free grave.
In the early years, Day noted, burials were not confined to any specific row. But from the 1910 period on, they were. “They were really buried all over the place,” he said.
According to the history of the cemetery, if a wife or husband died before he was 45, the survivor could not reserve a space next to the dead spouse. After the age of 45, though, an area was reserved.
Rev. Herman pointed to “an interesting feature about the children’s section, which is closest to the church.”
“There were certain times when four and five children of the same family were buried side by side. They all died in a period of two to five weeks. Apparently an epidemic ran right through the family.”
He said that the marble in the tombstones has been deteriorating over the years.
The proposed plan would involve removal of the headstones, markers and other structures, leveling the ground and replacing all headstones and markers.
(The Morning Call, August 6, 1971)
Project Is Unopposed To Restore Graveyard
The Dryland Graveyard Association, Inc., met no opposition to its plans to restore the old Union Cemetery in Hecktown.
Fix of six board members held a two-hour public session has required by law to air proposals on the removal of dangerous conditions at the 231-year-old graveyard.
William Day, association secretary, said the lack of opposition paves the way for restoration, which, it is estimated, will takeover two years.
The problems of the cemetery stem from two major sources—the soft marble formerly used for memorials and the wood and slate used as an overcover for coffins after they were buried.
A representative of the Bath Memorial Co. said soft marble was used for grave markers in the past because stone cutting tools lacked the hard edges of modern tools. The soft marble, over the years, has deteriorated and many markers threaten to fall, thus creating a hazard to visitors, he said.
Granite is now used for memorials because tools have been developed to cut it easily.
The second problem is the deteriorating wood and slate overcovers used to protect coffins underground. These covers have in some instances fallen in, causing depressions in the earth.
Now concrete overcovers are used which eliminate the sinking of the ground.
The restoration proposal involves removing the headstones, markers and other structures, leveling the ground and replacing all headstones.
The association will finance the work from the interest that has accrued to estates willed to the association, Day said.
More than 1,000 men, women, and children were buried in the five-acre site behind Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church between 1740 and the 1950s.
There are veterans of the Revolutionary War, the Spanish-American War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, World War I and some Indians.
The graveyard was opened before the union of Trinity Church and Dryland Evangelical and Reformed Church in 1763.
The two churches maintained the graveyard after their union until 1962 when the union was dissolved. At that time, each church voted to elect three representatives each year to an independent graveyard association.
As far back as 1763, anyone who paid a nickel a week to the church ($2.60 a year) was entitled to a free grave. None of the ground in the perpetual care cemetery is owned by families.
—The Morning Call, August 24, 1971, page 13.
Barba and Barba: “The reverse side of Nicholaus Schael’s tombstone. The entire panel is taken up with a boldly executed seven-branched tree of life growing out of an urn containing the water of life. Note again the drooping lower branches—stirb und werde!” (p. 114)
Stone for Christian Nauman (18 January 1704—28 February 1773)
Barba and Barba: “The illustration shows the reverse side of this interesting tombstone on which traditional motifs are curiously united with unusual insignia. The designer delighted in varying the forms of the sun symbols, both at the foot of the stone and in the lobes of the heart. Out of the heart, typical in form of German peasant art, grows a tree of life culminating in a large blossom, containing within its cup compass, square and broadax. But why? Could these be Masonic emblems? Fortunately we later learned that Christian Nauman was the carpenter of the first church edifice and builder of the wall that enclosed the churchyard.” (p. 128)
Stone for Simon Koenig (28 April 1795—6 April 1796)
Barba and Barba: “Two radiating suns and a central four-point star are the only adornments on the stone of this infant.”
Stone for Elisabeth Huber (born 1809).
Barba and Barba: “The only adornment is the familiar heart form of German peasant art, with the tri-branch or dreispross growing from it.” (p. 166)
Stone for Sara Kufer (16 October 1797—1801).
Barba and Barba: “Little Sara’s tombstone is adorned with two sun-wheels enclosing eight-point stars and surmounted by a heart.” (p. 68)
Stone for Sara Hertzel (19 June 1771—19 July 1791).
Barba and Barba: “The crowned and winged cherub’s head, still slightly reminiscent of the death’s head, is common property of ecclesiastical art. Confrontal birds, usually doves, are a stock design both in religious and secular folk art. They are seen frequently on illuminated birth and baptismal certificates, as well as on household utensils.” (p. 64)