The Mount Amwell Project preserves Hunterdon cemeteries


Jordan Oldenburg

Preserving sites such as the Howell/Rittenhouse Cemetery is a constant effort

Jordan Oldenburg, The Delphi Staff

Established over 60 years before our country in 1714, Hunterdon County stands as an important landmark in not only our state, but in our nation’s history.

For over 300 years, many notable and interesting individuals have been laid to rest all over Hunterdon County in cemeteries that are in need of preserving.

The Mount Amwell Project works to protect and maintain these historical sites for future generations.

The Mount Amwell Project was formed in 2006 as a New Jersey nonprofit corporation by Hunterdon County native, David Reading. It has since then continued its aim to preserve the rich history Hunterdon County cemeteries hold.

Currently, the charity is maintaining six stabilized cemeteries throughout Hunterdon County, with an additional site being added to the list this year.

Historic cemeteries in Hunterdon County, like the ones that are maintained by the Mount Amwell Project, come to be in a state of such disrepair when they are abandoned or neglected by their initial families, left behind by churches that no longer exist, or situated on private property where they are not maintained.

In order to preserve these sites, the owner of the land is first contacted by the Mount Amwell Project, where an agreement is negotiated, arranging for permanent maintenance by volunteers or commercial landscapers, as well as giving volunteers permission to do their work.

Preserving these sites involves hard work and commitment. Brush and trees are cleared from the cemetery, headstones are reset, and possible missing graves are located. Along with the upkeep, genealogical research on the inhabitants of these cemeteries is also conducted.

Through its work, the Mount Amwell Project aims to deliver the message that “cemeteries are of vital importance to the community and must be preserved,” says David Reading, executive director and president of the charity. He encourages everyone to get involved with the group, saying “older cemeteries are repositories of our cultural history. They connect the living with the past, and they are actual artifacts of the community’s genealogical record.”

In addition to its vital position in the community, preserving historic cemeteries is also an extremely rewarding task. Taking part in saving local history is an important role in the Hunterdon County community that anyone can take on. For Mr. Reading, “knowing that [he is] preserving history, and not forgetting it” is the most enjoyable part of saving historic cemeteries.

For anyone who is still in school and is interested in helping out, don’t think you need to be an adult citizen to join the effort. Mr. Reading strongly encourages the youth of our community to get involved with the Mount Amwell Project.

“The preservation of older cemeteries is a perpetual effort,” Mr.Reading says. “We need younger people to ensure that our heritage is preserved after the ‘we’ are gone.” Furthermore, working outdoors at these sites requires hard work that is sometimes better performed by younger citizens.

Although the work takes time and effort, it is also fun. “You get to work with people you might not have ever known. You can experience the thrill of discovery when you find a buried headstone or find a grave of an important historical figure,” says Reading.

While living in the advanced world of the present. It is easy to forget our community’s past. By becoming a volunteer of the Mount Amwell Project, you won’t only be connecting with the community, but also with Hunterdon County’s history, which you and others will be preserving for future generations to come. 

If you’re interested in taking part in preserving old Hunterdon cemeteries, visit, email the organization your name and contact information, and the Mount Amwell  Project will get back to you!

The group is always looking for volunteers to assist with fundraising, the newsletters, website management, data entry for burials, and of course, taking part in saving Hunterdon County’s history.