ABOUT US | Our History

historic graveyard

Colonial America

The Graveyard or Burying Ground is a valuable historical reference for American life during the Colonial Era and afterwards although early interments were somewhat haphazard. The location of graves in some cases were in whatever place the family and friends of the deceased pointed out. One grave was encroached upon to make room for another, in which turn was disturbed to make room for a third. The remains of strangers often were placed between members of the same family. In 1833, more than 100 years after the death of Martha Parson (1731) whose visible grave marker denotes the earliest interment, a plan to correct these practices was adopted by the Trustees of the Church. The Presbyterian Church in Morristown burying ground contains 1,640 Interments of Record dating from 1731, including 71 who served in the American Revolution.

Trustees decided in June 1854 that at the conclusion of the calendar year, no new interments were to be made under any circumstance except by those owning private lots. Nearby, Evergreen Cemetery opened in 1855, and in the years that followed, 134 cases of re-interments have been documented, with some families choosing to relocate remains of loved ones to allow future generations to be interred alongside their ancestors. Particularly noteworthy is the 1876 re-interment of Rev. Timothy Johnes, first pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Morristown. A distinctive green plaque in the original Johnes’ family plot commemorates his ministry.

In 1893, when the current sanctuary was being built, the painstaking, digging-by-hand resulted in 174 graves being moved to other locations in the Burying Ground to make space for the enlarged footprint. Three graves were relocated to Evergreen Cemetery. The last interment in the historic area of the Burying Ground was in 1969. The great-great granddaughter of Pastor Johnes, Elizabeth Nicoll Little, born in 1871 and a member of the church for 83 years was laid to rest in the Johnes Family plot. Miss Little’s death concluded 227 continuous years of Johnes Family leadership and service to the Presbyterian Church in Morristown.

Recent interments are located in the Memorial Garden. The Memorial Garden was created along the Morris Street side of the graveyard in 1990. 

visit the graveyard

The historical burial grounds are located behind The Church on the Green (57 E. Park Place, Morristown). Individuals are welcome to respectfully visit the graveyard from dawn to dusk. Limited parking is available unless a service or event is scheduled or taking place in or on church property. Special tours are conducted by the church and its local partners (DAR, NPS, Morristown Tourism) during the year.

Copies of historic graveyard burials can be found in the Heritage Room located in the Parish House. Access is by appointment only.

If you have an inquiry, please contact us at 973-538-1776 or office@pcmorristown.org.