Bloomfield Cemetery, www.bloomfieldcemetery.net, designated a New Jersey Historic Site, is located at 383 Belleville Avenue, Bloomfield in Essex County, New Jersey. The telephone number is (973) 748-0131.
Bloomfield Cemetery is one of New Jersey’s most significant rural cemeteries, and the only such landscape to be designed by Alexander Jackson Davis, one of America’s most important Victorian architects. Like nearby Mount Pleasant Cemetery (in Newark), it contains the graves of numerous individuals, families and social groups that were important to the history of Essex County and New Jersey as a whole. Parts of the landscape are recognizable as examples of picturesque cemetery design, and many 19th century markers evince characteristics of funerary art common during the Rural Cemetery Movement (c. 1840-1880).
Notable Figures Interred in the Bloomfield Cemetery
The Presbyterian Church burial ground in Bloomfield was a resting place for many veterans of the Revolutionary war, as might be expected for an Essex County town that had a significant 18th century population. Many names belong to the prominent families that helped to found Bloomfield, including members of the Dodd, Davis, Baldwin and Ward clans. Officers interred in the “Old Ground” included Captain Isaac Harrison (1757-1823) in Lots 22 and 23, Captain Jesse Baldwin (1754-1805) in Lot 51, Captain William Crane (1757-1832) in Lot 112, and Captain John Collins (1754-1806) in Lot 64. Others among the 32 marked burials were generally enlisted men. Moreover, the cemetery also has a large number of Civil War veterans from the town, many marked with elaborate symbols of valor and patriotism.
More importantly, Bloomfield Cemetery contains the remains of a large number of political, cultural and civic leaders who contributed to the growth of the nation over a period of three centuries. The following short biographies represent a few of the most important among this group.
Randolph Silliman Bourne (1886-1918) is one of many nationally significant cultural figures buried in the Bloomfield Cemetery. A native of Bloomfield, he was valedictorian and senior class president in the high school’s class of 1903, despite a nearly crippling spinal deformity and facial birth defects. His alcoholic father left his family when Bourne was a boy, so he was raised by his mother and a devoted aunt. At Columbia University he distinguished himself as a scholar, receiving a B.A. in 1912 and an M.A. in Sociology in 1913. The young man developed lasting relationships with many progressive leaders teaching at Columbia, including John Dewey, Charles Beard, and James Harvey Robinson. This led to his first opportunities as a journalist and critic—he wrote essays for the Atlantic Monthly and published a well-regarded book, Youth and Life (1913) that caught the attention of other progressive intellectuals.
Following a year abroad after Columbia, Bourne joined the staff of The New Republic, Herbert Croly’s new “journal of opinion.” There he became a literary and cultural critic more akin to today’s intellectuals than to typical journalists of the fin de siècle in America. He published two books on education, championed social realists such as Theodore Dreiser, and spoke out against America’s involvement in the First World War. His famous writings in the journal, Seven Arts, “A War Diary” (September 1917) and “Twilight of Idols” (October 1917), were revered during the Vietnam War but could not be tolerated during the patriotic years of Woodrow Wilson’s presidency. Bourne fell out of favor with editors and entered a period of eclipse. While working on an ambitious essay, “The State,” he succumbed to the horrible influenza epidemic that swept the country, dying just short of his 33rd birthday. His contemporary Van Wyck Brooks called him “the flying wedge of the younger generation.”
Like Bourne, William Batchelder Bradbury (1816-1868) played a significant role in America’s artistic development before the nation reached cultural maturity in the 20th century. Bradbury was born in Maine but grew up in Boston, studying music at the Boston Academy and singing in the church choir of Lowell Mason, one of the country’s first professional composers. At that time there were few formal music schools, and singing was often taught using rudimentary hymn collections and “shape note” manuals such as the Southern Harmony. Bradbury resolved to change this. After moving with his young family to Brooklyn, New York, he organized music festivals, taught singing classes for children, and developed the music program at the First Baptist Church. He published his first book in 1841, The Young Choir, and joined with Thomas Hastings, another hymn composer, in issuing several other collections of original vocal music for religious uses.
Recognizing the need for greater sophistication in his compositions, he sailed for Europe in 1847, settling in Leipzig. There he met Felix Mendelssohn, Franz Liszt, Clara and Robert Schumann. He stayed for two years, studying and filing stories for the New York Observer and New York Evangelist. Upon his return to the U.S. he collaborated with Hastings, Mason and George Root to form the first school for music teachers in the country, The Normal Musical Institute, in New York City. He began a music publishing company and also starting manufacturing high quality pianos. Soon he was a successful businessman as well as a hymn composer and educator. He published numerous hymn collections, eventually selling over three million books. His piano company eventually merged with Knabe.
Bradbury’s most lasting contribution to American music was his large output of hymns and “Sunday School Melodies” for children. He believed that singing taught children discipline and developed their creativity, in addition to bringing them closer to God. His famous hymn, “Jesus Loves Me,” captures the essential simplicity and directness of his approach. His song collections were issued in pocket size (5 by 6 inch) books that sold for only 25 cents, facilitating their use in churches and schools. He died in his home in Montclair, N.J. in 1868, as a result of respiratory complications.
Charles Tomlinson Griffes(1884-1920) also composed influential music that helped to change Americans’ musical taste, albeit during a period of increasing modernity and avant-garde fervor. Born in Elmira, New York, he studied piano in Europe from 1903 to 1907; one of his composition teachers was Engelbert Humperdinck. Like Bradbury, he came under the influence of European ideas and resolved to bring them with him to his home country. In 1907 he began teaching music at the Hackley School in Tarrytown, New York, and took advantage of its proximity to New York City, where he continued to develop his compositional ideas.
Griffes became one of America’s first musical free spirits, turning away from the German-Romantic traditions of the academy and towards impressionism and imagistic symbolism. His contemporaries, Edward MacDowell and Amy Beech, were also looking in new directions, long before Charles Ives emerged as a force after World War I. His Piano Sonata (1912) sounds more like Scriabin or Debussy than like any American composition of its time. He was also drawn to the exotic scales of Middle Eastern, Japanese, and Chinese music. His orchestral pieces employ oriental themes and were often orchestrated with thick textures of percussion and exotic instruments. A breakthrough came with his Poem for Flute and Orchestra of 1918, which impressed Leopold Stokowski and brought increased performances of his music.
Sadly, Griffes’s life was cut short by a bizarre medical misdiagnosis. In 1919 he contracted pleurisy and was forced to bed at the Hackley School infirmary. Students there, scared by the recent influenza epidemic, spread rumors that he had contracted tuberculosis. He was sent to a nearby sanitorium for consumptive patients, but did not belong among its seriously ill and contagious occupants. He grew depressed and suffered through a botched lung operation in which surgeons left a piece of metal in his chest. He died at the age of 35 of a hemorrhage caused by lacerations from the metal shard. Critics lamented his passing after such a short but brilliant career.
Charles Warren Eaton (1857-1937) was an American painter associated with “tonalism” and the American Impressionists of the early 1900s. He was born in Albany, and his family’s limited income forced him to begin working in a dry good store at age nine. In his early twenties he took up painting, and moved to New York in 1879 to pursue studies at the Art Students’ League and National Academy of Design.
His major works were painted during the 1890s and early 1900s, when he exhibited regularly in New York and Paris. A friend and admirer in his studio building was George Inness, who also painted landscapes with a limited palette of muted tones. Eaton was an excellent watercolorist as well as an oil painter. His familiar subjects, pastures, trees and a small patch of water or stone fence, earned him the epithet “the pine tree painter.”
His reputation began to wane at the end of the 1920s, and he decided to retire at his home in Bloomfield, New Jersey, where he had resided since the 1880s. He never married, and spent his final years with his sister and his niece.
Louis Michel Francois Chabrier de Peloubet (or simply Chabrier Peloubet) was born in Philadelphia on February 22. 1806. He spent his childhood and adolescence in New York City, as well as Athens, Hudson, and Catskill, New York. There he learned the trade of making musical instruments, and while quite young he set up business for himself in New York City. He was married April 27, 1829, to Miss Harriet Hanks. Their four elder children were born in New York City. In 1836 they moved to Bloomfield, where Chabrier became a respected and honored citizen. He continued to manufacture flutes and other wood wind instruments till 1849, when he changed his business and commenced the manufacture of cabinet organs, a popular parlor instrument in the Victorian era. He remained in that business with his son Jarvis until his death on Nov. 30, 1885.
John Franklin Fort (1852-1920) was a prominent Republican politician who became New Jersey’s 33rd governor in 1908, preceding Woodrow Wilson, elected in 1912. He was born in Pemberton, New Jersey on March 20, 1852 and eventually earned a law degree in Albany, New York. Following a successful career as an attorney, Fort served on the bench in the First District Court in Newark, leaving in 1886 to pursue politics. A delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1884 and 1896, he became a fixture in both state and national politics during the years of Theodore Roosevelt’s rise to power. After leaving the governor’s office President Woodrow Wilson appointed him to the Federal Trade Commission, on which he served until his death in West Orange at age 68.
James Newbegin Jarvie (1853-1929) was the son of a Scottish textile designer who came to the United States with his family in 1855. Jarvie attained early success as a businessman, becoming a partner in the coffee-and sugar-importing firm of Arbuckle Brothers in New York. He lived in Bloomfield and was a leading citizen of the city during the height of his business career. At 53, he retired to devote himself to his philanthropic and other personal interests. In 1909, he married Helen Vanderveer Newton. Tragically, she died three years later in a boating accident. They had no children, and he never remarried. An ardent Christian philanthropist who contributed generously to social, civic, cultural, and religious organizations throughout his life, Jarvie became increasingly concerned with the problems of older persons. Mr. Jarvie was particularly responsive to those elderly people of culture and accomplishment who endured financial hardships as they grew older, but were too proud to reveal their struggles and loneliness to traditional sources of aid. When the plight of such individuals was brought to his attention, and requests for his assistance mounted, he took it upon himself to establish a unique organization to help older people maintain the quality of their lives. First incorporated as the Commonweal Fund in 1925, it was later renamed the Jarvie Commonweal Fund and is now commonly known as the Jarvie Commonweal Service.
Roy F. Nichols (1896-1973) was born in Newark, New Jersey, to Franklin Coriell and Annie Cairns Nichols. He graduated from Rutgers University in 1918 and completed a Master of Arts degree from Rutgers in 1919. He was a fellow at Columbia University from 1920 to 1921, and an instructor in history at Columbia from 1921 to 1925. He completed a PhD degree from Columbia in 1923. In 1925 he was appointed assistant professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania, where he taught until 1966, becoming professor of history. He also was Dean of Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (1952–66), and Vice Provost at Pennsylvania (1953–66). He was a visiting professor at Columbia (1944–45), Pitt Professor of American History and Institutions at Cambridge University (1948–49), and Stanford University (1952). In 1962 he was Fulbright lecturer in India and Japan. Jeanette P. Nichols (1890-1982) collaborated with her husband on a number of publications.
- Hank Borowy (1916–2004), Major League Baseball All-Star pitcher who played for the New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates and Detroit Tigers.
- William Batchelder Bradbury (1816–1868), composer of numerous hymns, including Just As I Am and Jesus Loves Me.
- Thomas Cadmus (1736–1821), businessman, Revolutionary War officer and community leader.
- A. J. Davis (1803–1892), architect.
- Charles Warren Eaton (1857–1937), artist best known for his tonalist landscapes.
- John Franklin Fort (1852–1920), Republican Governor of New Jersey from 1908 to 1911.
- Franklin W. Fort (1880–1937), represented New Jersey's 9th congressional district from 1925 to 1931.
- Charles Griffes (1884–1920), composer.
- Hank Borowy, Baseball Almanac. Accessed April 29, 2009.
- Alexander Jackson Davis at Find a Grave
- Staff. "CHARLES W. EATON, PAINTER, IS DEAD; Won Many Awards for His Landscapes – Succumbs in Glen Ridge at 81; DUSK SCENES A SPECIALTY; Received Philadelphia Art Club Medal in 1903 – Honored in Paris Three Years Later", The New York Times, September 12, 1937. Accessed August 3, 2011. "Mr. Eaton, who was 81 years old, had lived in Bloomfield for fifty years ... Burial will be in the Bloomfield Cemetery. "
- Franklin William Fort, Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved August 22, 2007.
- Charles Tomlinson Griffes at Find a Grave
- Political Graveyard – Bloomfield Cemetery
- Bloomfield Cemetery: Famous people at Find a Grave
- Interments in Bloomfield Cemetery