Monday, October 22, 2012

A Visit to New Jersey

In September, I found myself in New Jersey with some time to kill.  It's a long story about how that should happen in the first place, but all I can tell you in lessons learned is this:  [A]  When going on a research trip, expect the unexpected to happen.  This would probably apply to life in general, but it was especially true on this particular research trip.  [B] If you don't have a back-up plan, you must be willing to fly by the seat of your pants.  Yes, m'am, time to make friends with your GPS.

So there I was in Phillipsburg, NJ which is just across the Delaware River from Easton, PA.  From the research we've done to date, we know that the Mann's landed in Philadelphia and made their way up the Delaware, mostly settling on the New Jersey side.  Having no plan whatsoever, I decided to drive around looking for old cemeteries.  This was mostly inspired by knowing that we have no idea whatsoever where our original family are buried, which is to say Earnest Man and his wife Maria Magdalena Summers Man.  So here's where I went:

1.  The St. James Lutheran church was in Phillipsburg and the church is still there (whether it's the original, I'm not sure), and still operating.  The cemetery is just across the street which is quite a busy road and very noisy, so not at all peaceful.  The really old graves are right up to the fence where the road is - I can only imagine that they had trouble convincing authorities to preserve the cemetery at all.  In any case, many many of the gravestones in there can no longer be read, and there was no apparent place to ask for locations.  My guess is that maybe there is a church record saying gggggg-grandpa George Summers was buried there, but without the location and/or a stone we can read, we don't know where.   And it's hard to say whether we have other relations in this cemetery, Summers or Mann's.

2.  Next I drove north along the Delaware River to a place called Ramsayburg (the village is called Delaware I think within the township of Knowlton).  In any case, I picked this cemetery because this is where Andrew Banghart is buried, a good friend of our Ernest Mann and husband of Maria Summers' sister Catherine.  This cemetery was ALSO on a noisy road, which annoyed me for some reason - because this cemetery was chock full of people we know and the graves are all so old, it just seems like they should have a little peace and quiet!  In any case, even though we already have pictures of all the graves I took pictures of, it was still very cool to see them in person.  And lots of names we know:  Banghart, Brands, Kirkhuff, Angle, Allison and more.  Again, this cemetery does not have an office for locating graves, so I just wandered.  Many stones here also can no longer be read, but not as many as are at the St. James Cemetery.  In any case, if there are Mann's buried there, I did not find them.  It was a very good try though!

3.  From Ramsayburg, I drove back south, this time looping over to Washington township.  Didn't see much there of any interest to speak of.  So I set the car back toward Phillipsburg and a few miles out of town I passed a street sign that said Montana Road and screeched and veered until I was doing what?  Yes, going UP the windy road of Scotts Mountain, the birth place of gg-grandma Sarah Mann - unbelievable!  It is very densely wooded so the road is like going through a canopy of leaves, which are just starting to turn colors.  I finally got to the top of the mountain where the view seemed to open up a bit, and I randomly turned left and immediately screeched to a stop again.  I was sitting in front of the old Montana Methodist church and its old graveyard.  Very small cemetery, but it is essentially full of names we know:  Deremer, Fangboner, Rush, Beers, and even one of our own:  Elizabeth Mann, the only one of the 2nd generation Ernest Mann family not to survive to have her own family or travel west to Michigan.  I loved this cemetery.  It is in such a beautiful location and it is wonderfully peaceful.  It's worth noting that we are pretty darned sure that the first generation of Mann's were Lutheran, but that many of this second generation were Methodist.  Or were they?  I have in my tree that 2nd-Gen Ernest Mann was a trustee of the Scott's Mountain Presbyterian Church in 1815.  I was told on this trip by a town historian that Presbyterians and Reformed churches often exchanged members, but those churches in particular frowned upon the Methodists.  So what religion were the Mann's practicing??  I suppose it's fair to say God Only Knows.

So that was the extent of my cemetery-hopping.  The next day, by a complete fluke, the research library operated by the Sussex County Historical Society was open in Newton, so off I went.  What a wonderful place.  The people were very friendly, and I spent two hours looking at a deeds database with one of their volunteer experts.  What a treat.  I came home inspired to account for all the Mann and Summers land deeds in hopes of coming upon more clues that might lead to a better understanding of their life in New Jersey.  And as always, what I'm most watching for is some clue about the Knofts.  Still looking for those pesky Knofts....

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