Constable Hook Cemetery

Constable Hook Cemetery is the name used to refer to two cemeteries on Constable Hook in Bayonne, New Jersey, the extant Bayonne Constable Hook Cemetery and the no longer existing Van Buskerck Family Burial Ground. Both were founded by members of the van Buskirk family, descendents of the cape's first settler, Pieter Van Buskirk. In 1906 the Standard Oil Company purchased the family land to expand their refinery, already the largest in the world at the time.[1] Myths and historical inaccuracies have led to confusion about the two burial grounds.[2]

Bayonne Constable Hook Cemetery

Bayonne Constable Hook Cemetery
Established 1849
Location East 22nd Street,
Bayonne, New Jersey
Country United States
Coordinates 40°39′28″N 74°06′25″W / 40.657645°N 74.106879°W / 40.657645; -74.106879 (Constable Hook Cemetery)
Type Private
Size 2 acres

James J. Van Buskirk (1791-1856), of the sixth generation of early Dutch settlers in Bayonne, laid out a cemetery in 1849 during a cholera epidemic which had struck the area.[3] In 1854 Van Buskirk wrote a will and mentioned 2 acres (8,100 m2) of his land situated at Constable Hook off East 22 Street was to be reserved for the cemetery. Many prominent Bayonne residents were buried there. It was later enclosed by oils tanks of Tide Water Oil Company.[3]

The official name of the cemetery is not known, but it was often referred to in documents as "Hook Cemetery", "Bayonne Cemetery", "Constable Hook" et al. It is currently called "The Bayonne Constable Hook Cemetery".

Today part of the cemetery still exists due to a restoration project of the 1980s. The cemetery is surrounded by property owned by International Matex Tank Terminal,[4][5] which owns about 600 acres on the hook.[6] Some remains were relocated to the Moravian Cemetery on Staten Island. There are approximately 140 headstones.[4] Information about the graves prior to the 1880s is incomplete.[4][7]

Van Buskirk Family Burial Ground

The Van Buskerck Family Burial Ground which has also been known as Constable Hook Cemetery, the old Van Buskirk's Cemetery[8] and the Constable Hook Graveyard was founded by Pieter Van Buskirk in about 1736.[9] The cemetery was located on a bluff on the north side of the cape near the homestead and held the remains of early settlers to the region, most of which were disinterred and transferred to other cemeteries.[10] A survey taken in 1903, two or three years before it the cemetery was obliterated, counted 104 headstones.[11] The burial ground became the subject of a court case between Standard Oil and members of the van Buskirck family, who contended the sale to the oil company by one family member in 1905 was illegal. In 1926 the case was finally settled in favor of the oil company.[11][12]

See also


  1. "TEXAS OIL IN BAYONNE. Rival of Standard Oil Company Buys Site for a Big Refinery.". The New York Times. March 28, 1902. Retrieved August 31, 2011.
  2. "Bayonne Constable Hook Cemetery". Retrieved 2011-08-31.
  3. 1 2 Middleton, Kathleen M (2000), Bayonne Passages, Arcadia Press, ISBN 0-7524-0563-2, Historian Virginia Brown found that James Van Buskirk had opened this public cemetery in 1849. Before Tide Water Oil enclosed it with tanks, many prominent Bayonne families had bought plots here
  4. 1 2 3 "Memorial Day, Observed Early", The New York Times, May 23, 1996, retrieved 2011-08-30
  5. IMTT - Bayonne, New Jersey
  7. Bayonne Constable Hook Cemetery 232 E 22nd St Bayonne, New Jersey Graveinfo: Constable Hook burial list
  8. "Once located in the yard at the rear of the Van Buskirk Homestead located at Constable Hook, Van Buskirk's Point (Van Boskerck) and Birds Point Bayonne City (est. 1869), Hudson County, New Jersey.". Retrieved 2011-08-30.
  9. "Timeline for the Founding and History of the City of Bayonne". City of Bayonne. Retrieved 2011-08-30. 1736 - Pieter Van Buskirk began a burial site for family and friends; it was adjacent to the house on the north shore of Constable Hook near the present New York Bay; Van Buskirk buried his wife Tryntje in the graveyard that same year at the Van Buskirk homestead, which became a private burial site for family and friends; it was referred to as the Van Buskirk Burial Ground and was used for interment until 1905
  10. Rosenberg, Bernie (August 14, 2010), "History starts at Constable Hook", The Jersey Journal, On the hill north of the Standard Oil storage tank field, Pieter Van Buskirk built what was probably the first house in Bayonne. In the yard was the cemetery where lay the remains of the Van Buskirks, the Vreelands, the Latourettes, the Garrabrants and the Cadmuses until a few years ago when these remains were disinterred and transferred to other cemeteries and the property was acquired by the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey.
  11. 1 2 "Standard Oil Wins Title to Burial Plot in Midst of Constable Hook Tanks Court of Errors Reverses Chancery Decision", Bayonne Evening News, October 19, 1926, retrieved 2011-08-30
  12. "Constable Hook Grave yard". Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society, Third Series, Volume X, 1915. Pages 29-33. Retrieved 2011-08-30. The following inscriptions were copied by Mr. John Neafie, of 72 West 93d Street, New York City, about 1903, from an old graveyard at Constable’s Hook, in the City of Bayonne, Hudson County, New Jersey. The graveyard was on the old Van Buskirk place, which Peter Van Buskirk derived through his wife, the daughter of Hans Harmanse, whom he married in the latter part of the seventeenth century. On revisiting the spot two or three years later, Mr. Neafie found that the graveyard had been obliterated and all the tombstones had disappeared. A contractor had been employed to clear the ground for the erection of the refinery plant of the Standard Oil Company.

External links

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