Photo: C. Karnoutsos, 2003
Speer Burial Ground
is located on Vroom Street, a few blocks away from Journal Square, and a block away from the Old
Bergen Church Cemetery. It was begun on
the DeMott estate at the border of historic Bergen Square. According to Janice K. Sarapin in Old Burial Grounds of New Jersey, A Guide, it is an example of a graveyard that
evolved from a private family resting place to a potter's field and finally to a cemetery owned by Abraham Speer
Speer was a Jersey City undertaker. He bought the burial ground in 1857 and sold individual plots for $16 each. The absence of records makes it impossible to verify who and how many have been buried in the cemetery over the years. Headstones indicate the burial of veterans of the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War, and Spanish-American War. Its last interments occurred during World War I.
According to Sarapin, "The best guess is that several hundred persons were buried at Speer, with about 160 grave markers made from sandstone, marble, and granite. Speer is known to have been used as a potter's field in the 1800s; some estimate thousands of paupers may have been buried there without markers or records" (60).
Frequently called Jersey City's "forgotten cemetery," Speer Burial Ground has long been
neglected and abandoned. A chair-link fence with a gate on Vroom Street was erected
in the 1970s to preserve the historic site. A rededication plaque placed
at the cemetery on Memorial Day, 1979, indicates that efforts were made
to restore the cemetery but the work was not completed.
|By: Carmela Karnoutsos
Project Administrator: Patrick Shalhoub