300 Year-Old Cemetery Restored by Holmdel Boy Scout and Helpers
The cemetery on a street off Van Schoick Road appeared to be long forgotten, with tall trees toppling some headstones and portions covered in overgrown brush. But the history of the Luyster family, who settled in the Holmdel/Middletown area nearly 300 years ago, was hidden underneath.
Stephen Wood, a Life Scout in Boy Scout Troop 331 in Holmdel, made it his mission to restore the cemetery and catalogue that history.
For his Eagle Scout Service Project, Stephen organized an effort to clear the downed trees and brush from the abandoned Luyster family cemetery off Williams Way in Holmdel, and cleared an entry path into the family plot.
He also photographed and transcribed each headstone for archival purposes. In some cases, the headstones were difficult to read, so Stephen used memorial stone rubbing paper to learn what was on the stones without further damaging them. Unfortunately, some stones were already broken or eroded such that information could not be obtained.
In the process of removing the downed trees, Stephen and his crew of helpers were able to uncover some headstones that had not been visible before.
Stephen learned of the cemetery and its deteriorating condition from George Joynson, head of the Holmdel Historical Society.
The oldest gravestone in the 1/4 acre burial ground belongs to Johannes Luyster, who died in 1750. The most recent interment was that of Catharine D. Luyster, who died in 1922. Ironically, some of the oldest gravestones were among the easier to read, while those dating to the 1800s had eroded, making some of them nearly illegible.
The information Stephen obtained can be found on the Holmdel Historical Society's website.
Stephen would like to thank the many volunteers who helped with his eagle project, including: Glenn Lauzon, Andrew Cornelio, Allan Ruda, Tom Rossi , Jeff Rossi, Anthony Echavaria, John Guaragno, Scott Blechman, Hunter Pearl, Mr. Cornelio, Kristen Echavaria, Austin Eng, Ryan Smith, David Smith, Joseph Spohrer, Jim Spohrer, Jessica Lam, P. Nowiki, Paul Fellingham, George Joynson, Tom Wood, and Linda Wood. Together the project represented nearly 100 hours of planning and work.
In addition to completing a service project, Eagle scouts must complete 21 merit badges, show leadership within the troop and show that they live the Scout Oath and Law in their everyday life. Having served as Senior Patrol Leader to his troop in 2010-2011, and completed 20 merit badges, Stephen is well on his way towards that goal.