Crooked Pond Cemetery and the Church on the Hill

Photo by Dick Stanton

The Crooked Pond Cemetery is one of the oldest threads that connects today’s residents to the earliest settlers of the southern portion of Franklin Lakes. Generations of Ackerman, Van Winkle, Romaine and other Dutch families are interred on top of the steep hill overlooking the serene body of water originally known as Hopper’s Pond. Owing to the geography, the local Dutch Reformed congregation assumed the name Ponds Reformed Church and established themselves in the Ramapo Valley in 1710. The early history of the Church recalls several changes in location and according to oral tradition services were held in a log cabin on the north side of the pond not far from the burial ground. In remarks for the centennial of Ponds Reformed Church a sermon was given where the burial ground was directly referenced, “there is a large burial ground there where many of your good people await the resurrection of the just.”


One of the earliest records of the Cemetery is a 1913 Inventory put together by John Neafie of the Holland Society of New York. Neafie recorded 86 graves, the earliest burial being that of Samuel Romine in 1732. Neafie describes the site as “Burial Ground at Crooked Pond, Franklin Township … located on the road leading from Oakland to Franklin Lake, (adjoining the Adam Boyd Estate) about 1 ½ miles southeast of the Ponds Reformed Church.” Maria Braun writes in her 1964 publication Franklin Lakes: It’s History and It’s Heritage that about 20 markers still standing.


Relocating and widening Franklin Lake Road eliminated a small parking lot that used to be adjacent to the graveyard. Simeon Van Winkle was amongst the early families in Franklin Lakes and lived in the stone house on the corner of Franklin Lake Road and High Mountain Road. He was a Deacon and later Elder at Ponds Reformed Church.


The Bartholf family also had deep ties to the Dutch Reformed tradition. Rev. Guilliam Bartholf being the first Pastor at Ponds Reformed Church in the early 1700’s until his death in 1724. He was an itinerant pastor traveling between the churches in the "ponds" area, Hackensack, Passaic, Belleville, Pompton Plains, and Somerville. Relatives of Rev. Bartholf lived on Franklin Avenue and are buried at Crooked Pond.


A 1991 survey by the County of Bergen identified 34 markers, many being found underfoot beneath thick overgrowth. Surveyors describe a very different scene than what Neafie would have seen, by then the hill had been largely forgotten, unkept and forgotten about. One of the last times the cemetery had been maintained was in the 1970’s when local scouts cleaned up the property.


Seemingly destined to disappear in obscurity, the Daughters of the American Revolution stepped up and have been working to restore the cemetery to it’s rightful state. 20 headstones have been restored, and recently, the Veteran’s Administration installed two new headstones for Revolutionary War veteran Samuel Romine and another for War of 1812 veteran Ralph Benjamin Romaine. Crooked Pond Cemetery has fourteen Veterans interred within its bounds, ten from the Revolutionary War, two from the War of 1812, and two who served in the Civil War. An incomplete list of veterans buried here are John Ackerman; John Folley and Elias Folley; Samuel Romine, Benjamin Romine, and Ralph Romaine; Gerrit Van Cleve and Joseph Van Cleve; Corniess Van Houten, Hendrick Van Houten, and Roeloff Van Houten; and Simeon Van Winkle and Epson Van Winkel.


Photos by Dick Stanton, 2022
Written by Colin Knight


(Photos may be slow to load.)