Saint John of Jerusalem Cemetery

Levittown Hempstead, Nassau, New York, United States

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379

Number of Headstone Records

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Description

History of St. John of Jerusalem During the mid 1800's Johann D. Bulling moved from New York City to Jerusalem. A number of his friends, all members of the German Methodist Church of America, followed him to settle and farm in Jerusalem. He soon remarked to his neighbors that he felt it was necessary for them to have a German preacher. The neighbors agreed, and petitioned their former congregation for a minister. Their request was granted when, in 1854, Rev. George Able was assigned to the community of Jerusalem as the first German missionary of the Washington Street German Methodist-Episcopal Church. The first religious services were held in the homes of the German speaking residents. Two years later, in 1856, the Town of Hempstead gave one acre of land to the mission, on which to build a church and lay out a cemetery. This was the origin of the present St. John of Jerusalem Cemetery, which is located on the west side of Wantagh Ave. about one-half mile north of North Jerusalem Road. Little is recorded as to the building of the church or the initial fund raising for it. It has been assumed from the minutes of the quarterly church meetings that just the shell of the church building was initially erected in 1856. The interior finishing was done in various states in later years, as funds became available. The members of the congregation were hard working farmers of little means. They were generous to their church, but, as recent immigrants from Germany, their first concern was to establish their own farms and provide for their growing families. Their task was made even more difficult by the onset of the Civil War and the depression which followed. As a result, the church grew slowly. In December of 1862, the cemetery grounds were surveyed and measured in 40 lots of 8 graves each. An initial lot was sold for $5 The first burial listed was Frederick Doscher, born December 9, 1814, died September, 1862. Records of the cemetery indicate that the price of lots increased during the 1860's, until they had doubled in price by 1872. During the years that followed, the cemetery trustees decided that non-members of the congregation could not inter their loved ones without a death certificate signed by a doctor. They also set rates for opening a grave ($2.25 in 1896) and provided, for an additional charge of 25 cents, the ringing of the church bell during a burial service. As the twentieth century progressed, the younger generation became unwilling to accept the services being held in German, and the records being kept in German. The congregation grew smaller and smaller. The last entry in the German Methodist-Episcopal Mission Church record is dated August 1, 1912. There are no records regarding the church after this date. The church remained unused from 1912 to 1926, when permission was given to the local Lutherans to use it for their services as a Lutheran mission church, under the guidance of Pastor Miller of Freeport. The first service was held on Thanksgiving Day, 1926. Services were held in the church building for fourteen years. In 1940 the Lutheran congregation moved into their own new church building on Island Road in Wantagh. The church again remained idle until 1949 when the United Christian group obtained permission to use it. This congregation prospered for some years, but ended in 1969. The cemetery was fenced during 1929 and 1930. It was incorporated in in 1939, and is currently maintained in excellent condition by a board of trustees. An important link in our community's history, it lies serenely beside the present day activity of Wantagh Avenue.
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Saint John of Jerusalem Cemetery, Created by Trudy Maffetone, Levittown Hempstead, Nassau, New York, United States