locally owned since 1854

Bunting added at historic borough cemetery

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 7/3/18

Black fencing surrounding the historic German Lutheran Burial Ground on North Pine Street in Middletown has been decorated with 15 patriotic pieces of bunting, to commemorate a graveyard that …

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Bunting added at historic borough cemetery

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Black fencing surrounding the historic German Lutheran Burial Ground on North Pine Street in Middletown has been decorated with 15 patriotic pieces of bunting, to commemorate a graveyard that predates the nation’s first Independence Day in 1776.

The buntings were purchased and installed by the Middletown Borough Historical Restoration Commission. The commission bought the buntings using funds that are provided to the commission by borough council in the general fund budget.

Located between Hoffman Avenue and High Street, the small cemetery was dedicated by George Fisher in 1760. About 200 people were buried in the cemetery over the next 40 years.

The German Lutheran Congregation in Middletown was responsible for the cemetery until 1875. Afterward neglect began setting in and the grounds were desecrated by a few local businessmen who used the cemetery for their own purposes, according to a history provided by the commission.

It’s likely that the graveyard holds the remains of some who fought in the Revolution, says commission Secretary Bob Hauser.

But during the years of neglect headstones were frequently taken out to be used in the foundations of homes that were being built.

The few surviving stones that were left were placed around a monument that was set in the center of the graveyard in 1940 by the Daughters of the American Revolution.

In 1925, St. Peters Evangelical Lutheran Church went to court to stop a businessman from using the land for anything but a graveyard. Dauphin County Court sided with the church, and in 1929 the county court ruling was upheld by the Superior Court of Pennsylvania.

In 1940, St. Peters and Daughters of the American Revolution struck an agreement for the DAR to take care of the cemetery.

In March 1966, Middletown council voted for the borough to assume upkeep and maintenance of the cemetery, and set aside $1,000 a year for this purpose.

The Historical Restoration Commission has stepped in in recent years. In 2016, the commission used funds in its budget provided by council to fix the fence that encloses the graveyard.