Riverview Cemetery, today a wedge of green between two major highways, is an oasis in the concrete and asphalt of the city where Trenton's history is written silently in gravestones. Here in 1685, John Lambert conveyed two acres to the Chesterfield Friends Monthly Meeting for use as a burial ground. From these Quaker origins, continuing through a late 19-century expansion into a non-denominational graveyard and down to the present, Riverview has grandly occupied this bluff-top promontory.
For the first 170 years or so of its existence, the burial ground served the local Quaker community and includes the graves of several prominent Quakers in the Trenton area, among them the two founding settlers, Mahlon Stacy and Thomas Lambert. In 1857, Jacob Taylor acquired a half interest in a 26-acre lot bordering the burial ground, an event that soon set in motion the creation of Riverview Cemetery. In the following year, Taylor developed a plan to open a large modern graveyard around the Quaker burying plot and, with a group of investors, founded the Riverview Cemetery Company.
The first burial plot in the new cemetery was sold on February 23, 1859 to captain William E. Hunt, a well-known Lamberton sea-farer. A Taylor family burial enclosure was established and exists today as a small mausoleum. An imposing masonry receiving vault was also built for the temporary placement of caskets prior to burial. Quakers retained their right to bury within the original parcel for several more years, but eventually turned over the responsibility for its care to the cemetery company.
Riverview Cemetery was twice enlarged later in the 19th century with most of the expansion occurring to the north, since the canal, river and bluff edge prevented its spreading in other directions. In the 1880s, the core of the former Pine Grove estate, once owned by Joseph Bonaparte, was annexed. Another expansion of the cemetery was accomplished in 1887-88 aided by the professional landscape design firm of Vaux & Co. This company was headed by Calvert Vaux, the landscape architect who collaborated with Frederick Law Olmsted on the design of Central Park in New York City and several other commissions.
Throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Riverview Cemetery grew into one of Trenton's most populous and popular cemeteries. Here may be found the graves of many of those most prominent in Trenton's rise as a powerhouse of the Industrial Revolution: Bowmans, Dickinsons, Dunhams, Ewings, Hildebrechts, Kusers, Maddocks, Motts, Roeblings, Ruslings, Switliks and Taylors are but a few of the families represented.
The ravages of the Civil War are reflected in the close to 1,000 graves of veterans of the Union forces. Many Civil War veterans lie buried in the plot set aside for members of the Grand Army of the Republic, others are scattered elsewhere around the cemetery, as in the case of Lieutenant DeKlyn Lalor, Major General Gershom Mott and General George B. McClellan. McClellan, the general who commsnded the Army of the Potomac and later became Governor of New Jersey (1878-81), was buried at Riverview Cemetery in 1885. His remains rest beneath a monumental granite shaft raised in his memory at the highest central point of the cemetery.
Who Lies There?
Riverview Cemetery sprawls over an area of almost 50 acres and is estimated to contain perhaps as many as 70,000 graves. The cemetery is still in active use and is respectfully maintained by the Riverview Cemetery Corporation, whose office is located on Centre Street. A genealogical sample of the cemetery's extraordinary history and mortuary aesthetic is offered below ?? but, better still, walk over and experience the place in person.