The Mystery of the Missing Cemetery

My parents own an old house in Strathmere, built in 1902. It was the annex of a hotel called the West Jersey Cottage, which was built in 1895. Louise & William Petersen built the hotel, and it was managed by Louise's brother Gus Wittkamp, and he took over ownership after the Petersen's deaths.
In the house we found a box of old papers with two bills for burials and an old cemetery plot from the late 1890s. The bill and the plot were for Woodland Cemetery. But trying to find it online previously and asking people where 'Woodland Cemetery' was got us no answer. No one had heard of it before.
What little info we were able to find was that it was opened in the late 1800s. The graves of a well known family in the area were eventually moved from Woodland after being vandalized, to another cemetery. Not many people were buried there for some reason and it changed owners everal times over the years.

The plot that we found the deed for was obviously never used and the family was eventually buried in another cemetery. But Louise and William Petersen, who built the West Jersey Cottage, had definately been buried in Woodland Cemetery in 1898 and 1899 according to the burial bills that we had.

So finally trying another search on Google maps, we found the cemetery. It is a big lot, mostly wooded, located between a golf course and campgrounds. The sign out front calls it the Ocean View Cemetery, which is why no one knew the Woodland name.

These are aerial views that I snagged from Bing. Above shows the long dirt road leading from the street back into the woods. You have to park on the street and walk the path to get to the graves at the back of the property.
Below are the few graves that are there, maybe 20. Most are from the late 1800s to early 1900s. The latest 4 were 1933, 1936, 1946 and 1986. The ground is all cleared and mowed, the current owners are taking good care of it. Huge ground, only 20 graves way in the back.

It turns out that the grandfather of this guy that my dad knows used to own the cemetery. The guy used to  help the grandfather take care of the property when he was a kid. He said that there was a peach orchard on it that they used to pick, and they also mowed the grounds. Because it's back in the woods and near campgrounds, it was apparently a big party spot and kids would go back there and drink. They would also vandalise, and some headstones were overturned and broken over the years.

He told my Dad about having to lift a tall memorial back into place on several occasions, usually around Halloween, because kids would knock it over. Below is that tall memorial, we had been toppled so many times over the years, and we were very surprised by the name - James P Carothers. This man built the Deauville Inn in Strathmere, originally called the Whelen Hotel, back in 1881. So it's amazing to find that 2 early settlers in Strathmere, who both built hotels, are both buried in this little cemetery! The island was nearly empty when these people settled there, just a few houses. Now they are out in a very sparse cemetery, together.

This was the grave that we were seeking!

Here are a few other shots from the grave.
The digger and the boats belong to the campground and the golf course.

A broken headstone.

The mystery about why the cemetery was hardly used still remains. We are planning on going to the historial museum in the fall to do some research, maybe they'll have some info about Woodland. But I was glad to find the Petersen's grave safe, especially after hearing the story about vandals.


Bonita said...

I just love old cemetaries! Glad you found this one -- how interesting. You'll have to keep us posted on things.

Trousers India said...

Awesome clothing and pretty good collections.