A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Union Prospect Cemetery, Aberdeen

Union Prospect Cemetery, aka Booker Cemetery, is an African-American cemetery on 1.3 acres situated on either side of an unpaved road that runs between Lloyd Road and Reids Hill Road in the Strathmore section of Aberdeen. It is located about halfway between the Aberdeen Shop Rite and the old Strathmore Swim Club.

Find-a-Grave has this cemetery listed. They have names, dates of death, even photographs of graves. A local professional genealogist named George Joynson has a web page with a listing of graves as of 1996. I walked the graveyard today and found that new graves have been added in the past year and flowers adorn numerous graves.

Find-a-Grave, Ancestry.com and Mr Joynson all refer to this place as Union Prospect Cemetery. Google Maps and Histopolis label it as Mt Union Cemetery, but that seems to be in error, perhaps the result of confusion with a cemetery in Aberdeen, Mississippi.

I drove to the cemetery by taking Route 34 to Van Brackle Road to Reids Hill Road. There's not much room to park, so I left my car on the unpaved road. Pulling out onto Lloyd Road was a harrowing experience, even on an early Sunday morning, due to blind spots in both directions, so I'd recommend entering and exiting on Reids Hill Road if at all possible.

Union-Prospect Cemetery is on a tree-shaded property consisting of three zones: a hilltop (with the oldest graves), a gentle slope leading to Lloyd Road or the unpaved road that bisects the cemetery (with some graves), and a clearing beyond the unpaved road (with most of the newest graves).

From the hilltop, there is a relatively sharp drop to a treed lot on the north and a gentler slope to the south and west. The exposed roots and gravestones across the street to the east suggest that Reids Hill Road was cut through this cemetery, which was situated on a once-larger hill, presumably Reid's Hill.

The graves on the hilltop and slope rest in white, sandy soil. That ground is gradually eroding. Most recently, Hurricane Irene seems to have caused a wash down the slopes into the unpaved road and out towards Lloyd Road.

Most of the graves have professional granite markers, but some are marked with hand-engraved stones, while others bear small metal signs provided by the funeral home in lieu of a more expensive stone.

Looking west towards Lloyd Road from the hilltop.

Looking northeast towards Reids Hill Road from the hilltop.

Looking northwest towards Lloyd Road from the hilltop. The sharp drop and neighboring wooded lot can be seen.

Looking southwest from the slope towards Lloyd Road. The unpaved road and the graves in the clearing can be seen.

Looking west towards Lloyd Road from the hilltop. The graves in the clearing below can be seen in the distance.

Only a few stones are toppled in this graveyard. It could be a maintenance issue as opposed to vandalism.

A hand-engraved stone for Lester Cranshaw has a reversed letter N and the year is squeezed onto a second line.

The sandy slope shows signs of erosion to the unpaved road below.

The hilltop consists of sandy soil.

Another view of Lloyd Road from the hilltop.

The unpaved road leading to Lloyd Road shows sand washed from the slope to the right

These graves are cut into the sandy slope.

This view is up the slope towards the northeast corner of the cemetery by Reids Hill Road.

A view of the unpaved road as it leads to Reids Hill Road. These newer gravestones are in the clearing.

Another view of the unpaved road leading to Reids Hill Road.

The recent stones include one for a Keyport High School graduate. He was a local football hero who died at age 19.


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