Steyntie Heyer was laid to rest in the graveyard of the First Reformed Church in 1746. Hers is the oldest tombstone in our cemetery. (Actually, when her remains were buried, the First Reformed Church did not exist at its current location.) While, for its age, the tombstone is still in remarkably good condition, it is beginning to show signs of deterioration; the same type of blistering and cracking which has destroyed many of our other headstones.
The Property Committee is planning to remove the headstone and store it in the basement of the Education Building, thereby protecting it from the rain and ice which would have eventually destroyed it. Symbols inscribed on the headstone identify the maker as being quite prominent in New Jersey at the time. It’s amazing to think that it has been in the same location for 263 years.
In its place, a modern grave marker will be placed. It will simply be inscribed with ‘Steyntie Heyer 1708-1746’. The grave marker will be supplied at no cost by Peoples Monuments on Route 27 in Somerset. What a wonderful gesture by Jack Lynch, the owner of Peoples Monuments. We really don’t know anything about Steyntie other then what was inscribed on her headstone. She was a member of our church as per some research performed by Rev. Muyskens which is presented in his book about the history of First Reformed Church in New Brunswick. I can’t help but wonder what her life was like. What was New Brunswick like in the early 1700s?
Anyway, I’m glad our church is trying (with the help of Peoples Monuments) to be respectful to our ancestors by preserving part of our history.