As I was unable to enter the graveyards of my ancient kin, I am instead taking taking a remote look at those venerable stones and the street where my Grandmother once lived. Google Maps takes me to 454 Westminster Ave., Elizabeth, New Jersey, and as I switch on the satellite view and zero in I see housing projects lining the East side of the street and vacant lots like missing teeth on the other. There is an older house, though, there where 454 ought to be, and I can almost see the gables of the old Ogden home, now inevitably divided up into apartments. I did not search for this street when I was in Elizabeth on Wednesday, but here I hover at 5,000 feet, searching for something familiar in the blurred lines of a house last lived in by members of my family near seventy years ago.
Had I been able to pass through the padlocked gates of the 1st Presbyterian Church, I would have found many names that are familiar to me as the family genealogist but which mean very little to other passersby on Broad St. One of the volumes in my library was published in 1892 and is dedicated entirely to Inscriptions on Tombstones, Elizabeth, New Jersey. Here is an engraving of the monuments of my 7th Great-grandparents, Jonathan and Rebekah Ogden. Jonathan emigrated to America in 1640 with his twin brother David and older brother John Jr., along with the family patriarch John Ogden Sr. and his wife Jane Bond. He was a Deacon in the church and a prominent citizen, so it gives me no end of pleasure to read that he also was indicted May 13, 1699, for breaking open the jail and releasing two prisoners, and again the following year for "riotously taking the keys from the sheriff and freeing yet another prisoner. The Ogden genealogy explains this aberrant behavior as a simple case of Englishmen standing up for their rights even in that early time, and indeed there was deep dissatisfaction among many Elizabethtowners with the Proprietors' administration of colonial affairs. Then again, as my Great Uncle Archie and his uncle Ned were fond of saying;" Maybe it ain't so!"
The 1st Presbyterian Churchyard contain the graves of numerous Ogden ancestors and allied families. Among the most prominent are General Elias Dayton, commander of the 3rd New Jersey Continentals and Later the Jersey Brigade; General Matthias Ogden, commander of the 1st NJ continentals, and his brother Governor Aaron Ogden. Over in St. John's graveyard is Jonathan Dayton, son of Elias and Signer of the Constitution. His granddaughter, Susan Dayton Beasley, married Aaron Ogden's son, Elias Bailey Dayton Ogden, and they were my Gr-gr-great grandparents.
Someday I'll return to Elizabeth, this time having made arrangements to have the gates unlocked and to wander amid the stones of Old Elizabethtown and the graves of my ancestors. The nearest I can come until then is here at 5,000 ft. up and centuries away.