Union Cemetery

Union Cemetery
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Sunday, July 22, 2007

The name of this Cemetery is.........

This Cemetery is commonly known by several names and variations of those names. I have seen it referred to as Doctor's Fork, Union and Old Union. I was confused myself so decided to look at a historical document written in the 1880s by Isaac M. Gray.

The original organization to hold meetings on the site of the present Cemetery was a Presbyterian congregation known as the Union Congregation. They are referred to in Isaac Gray's document as "Old Presbyterian". I am not sure at the moment as to the meaning of the word "Old" in the description. This congregation was organized before 1800, so they were probably the origin of the word "Union" and possibly the use of the term "Old Union" often used for the Cemetery. The land for the Union Meeting was donated for use by John Copeland and is described as 1 and 1/4 acres to be used for a Meeting House and a Burying Ground. This property was in later years purchased by John Gray and the original agreement to maintain the meeting house was continued. (see the email letter from Dennis Gray elsewhere on this site.)

This makes sense in my mind as the Pipes Family in my research had always maintained a connection to the Presbyterian faith. They were sponsors of the Presbyterian Church in New Jersey in very early documents and John Pipes Jr. was married in the First Presbyterian Church In Morristown, New Jersey.

In March of 1801 several local people who were Baptist believers organized a Baptist meeting named after the local waterway known as "Doctor's Fork". Doctor's Fork has its headwaters very near the Cemetery and is a tributary of the Chaplin River. Many of the deeds in this area include the description "On the headwaters of Doctor's Fork". The original piece of property purchased by John Pipes Jr. was described that way and was purchased from the same John Copeland. The property lies just north and east of the Cemetery.

John Scott was the first pastor for the Doctor's Fork Baptist Meeting and they held their services in local houses until July of 1805 when the Union Congregation invited the Doctor's Fork Baptists to share the Union meeting house built on the grounds. The meeting house is described as "of ancient stiled construction".

Isaac's document does not explain what happened to the Union Congregation, but the Baptist's ended up owning the property and it was officially known as the Doctor's Fork Baptist Church. The original building, built about 1800 was finally replaced with a new structure in 1850 at a cost of $750.00.

It is my understanding that the Doctor's Fork Baptist Church, built across the highway, is still the proprietor of the property.

All of this means that the burying grounds there are over 200 years old now and the proper name could then be reasonably said to be either Old Union or Doctor's Fork Baptist.

I will do some more work to see if I can find out the fate of the Union Congregation. Some of you who read this may well know the answer. I found that I have several old Newspaper articles and other items that will add to this story. More Later.........

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