This is the tombstone of Charlotte Mercer Frelinghuysen (1784-1809), who was the wife of Theodore Frelinghuysen (1787-1862). It is a grey granite tombstone, which probably used to look pristine before years of wear and tear affected its appearance. The tombstone now looks worn down and many of the words engraved onto it have faded, making them unreadable. It has even begun to sink into the ground, so much so that parts of the name do no show. We were saddened by the dilapidated state of this gravesite, as Reverend Kramer-Mills pointed out how we should provide better care and upkeep for the final resting places of these influential Rutgers figures. Unfortunately, we were unable to find Theodore’s grave.
We chose to use the tombstone of Theodore Frelinghuysen as our artifact after our class walking tour of the First Reformed Church Cemetery, in New Brunswick, NJ. Theodore Frelinghuysen was the seventh president of Rutgers College, Queens college at the time, and this cemetery is where many Rutgers presidents have been buried. Charlotte died and was buried here in 1809, while Theodore died in 1862. The First Reformed Church was central to Rutgers during Theodore Frelinghuysen’s time as it was used for commencement and other large gatherings at the time. The church was world renowned and being buried in it cemetery was and still is a tremendous honor. This artifact is directly related to the history of Rutgers because, as previously stated, Theodore was a president here. Theodore carried on the Dutch traditions of his great-grandfather, who was a minister and theologian of the Dutch Reformed Church, an influence in the founding of Queen’s College, and a leader in the First Great Awakening. He also led Rutgers during a period of reformation in the country following the war of 1812 when changes came to the way the country handled finances and domestic politics. Much of his great-grandfather’s history influenced his roles in politics both in the state assembly and as president of the university. Remnants of Frelinghuysen’s legacy can be seen throughout the campus today, in places such as Frelinghuysen Hall on College Avenue.
We picked the tombstones of Charlotte and Theodore Frelinghuysen because, upon recognized the name of the tomb, we instantly became intrigued. This object spoke to us because we all live next to Frelinghuysen Hall, making the artifact relevant in our everyday lives.
“Charlotte Mercer Frelinghuysen (1784 – 1809) – Find A Grave Memorial.” Charlotte Mercer Frelinghuysen (1784 – 1809) – Find A Grave Memorial. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Apr. 2016.
“Theodore Frelinghuysen (1787 – 1862) – Find A Grave Memorial.” Theodore Frelinghuysen (1787 – 1862) – Find A Grave Memorial. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Apr. 2016.
Reverend Kramer-Mills, 30 Apr. 2016