Speer Cemetery is located near Bergen Square at 145 Vroom Street, between Bergen Avenue and Van Reypen St Jersey City, New Jersey.
Sheltered by surrounding trees and low rise historic homes, the land Speer Cemetery sits on was originally part of the apple orchards owned by the Van Waganen family of Apple Tree House fame. After title to the property was transferred to Mathias DeMott, this three quarter acre portion of the DeMott estate was used as a burial ground for DeMott family members. The DeMotts were early settlers to New Netherland in Esopus(present day Kingston, NY) and later, Long Island, NY before later generations settled in Bergen, New Netherland in the 1770s.
Speer Cemetery is frequently confused with the present day(2nd) Bergen Cemetery owned and operated by Old Bergen Church, a portion of which fronts Vroom St at Tuers Ave.
The earliest surviving gravemarker in the cemetery is dated 1756.
The cemetery is named for Abraham Speer, an undertaker and acting sexton for the church, who bought the land from the De Mott estate in 1857 and made it a public cemetery, selling burial plots for $16 each.
Patients of Snake Hill(Laurel Hill) Sanitarium were interred during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in one of the two large catacombs in the cemetery. Cataloging of names from headstones and historical records collected by neighbors and volunteers make it possible to now verify many who are buried in the cemetery.
Headstones indicate the burial of the veterans of the American Revolutionary War, War of 1812, American Civil War, and the Spanish–American War. Its last interments occurred during World War I.
Plans to construct a building on a lot adjacent to the remaining cemetery grounds have been met with opposition, since it is believed that the land being developed was once part of the burial ground and contains human remains, possibly dating back to the 1660s; the developer has been ordered to hire an archeologist to validate that belief.
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