20 Pay Tribute at Destroyed Hendricks Burial Ground at Beau Ridge
Citizens join a family descendant to plant flags in the snow
“It’s just wrong,” said Beth Blonski of Manalapan on Sunday, standing before a heap of damaged gravestones poking through the snow.
It was all that remained of the 60 ancient gravestones that had stood for generations in the Hendricks Burial Ground, a privately owned one-acre cemetery surrounded by the upscale Beau Ridge Townhouse Development in Holmdel.
Blonksi traveled from her home to join 20 others -- some of them residents of the development -- to brave freezing temperatures and pay their respects by planting flags and laying tulips at the ten remaining gravestones. The informal event was organized by a descendant of the family, Arthur Rittenhouse of Sayreville.
In September, the Beau Ridge Homeowners Association Board of Directors knocked down and removed two truck-loads of the hand-carved gravestones, some of which dated back centuries. Orange spray paint marks remain on some of the stones left behind, when the operation was interrupted by a cease-and-desist order by the Holmdel Police.
A report by the county prosecutor into the matter is expected to be be released in coming days.
In the meantime, Rittenhouse said it was time to hold the first event in the reconstruction effort by the Hendricks and Hendrickson Family Association of Monmouth County N.J. In announcements on the county's historical society's page on Facebook and Holmdel Patch, he invited interested citizens to join him.
“When we found out about it I was appalled," said Don Dudley, a Beau Ridge resident who came to plant a flag. "I didn’t even believe it at first."
Another townhouse resident, Dan Mar, said, “The residents weren’t even informed, and it was done so quickly, we wouldn’t even have had time to react."
The father of the 9-year old girl who originally brought the destruction of the tombstones to the public’s attention as well as the police, said he shocked when he went and saw for himself.
“It’s culturally and criminally reprehensible,” said Terence Wall, a former township committeeman who also lives in Beau Ridge.