Visit: Harsimus Cemetary {Jersey City, New Jersey}

by Cate on August 5, 2016

When I was sitting in the orthodontist’s office a few weeks ago during one of Nick’s appointments, I was thumbing through an issue of New Jersey Monthly. The summer issues are a great source for finding new and fun things to do in New Jersey, and this issue was no exception.

I happened upon a piece that mentioned a cemetery that had goats on its property.

Yes, goats.

I thought it was a little odd, and certainly intriguing, but didn’t end up taking down the information. And then not two days later, I was catching up on Instagram, and a friend had a picture of a goat at a cemetery.

Yes, the same cemetery I had read about just two days earlier.

And that’s when I decided it was fate and we needed to go visit said goats.

We’re getting into doing a regular Sunday adventure day together as a family, and this sounded like a perfect little outing.

 Harsimus Cemetery. Relatively close. Certainly unique. And free. Even better.

The cemetery is very easy to find, but I’m not going to lie… parking is a bit of a challenge. The property isn’t huge and there is one driveway for cars entering AND exiting AND that’s also where you park. So I’m not exactly sure how they handle it when there is more than one car there (we definitely got lucky), but I don’t want to find out either.

Before the cemetery was established in 1829, these grounds were actually where a Revolutionary War skirmish took place, and there is a bunker on the property from the War of 1812. “In October of 1780, General Marquis de Lafayette joined with the American forces, at the request of General George Washington, to challenge the English on these very grounds. Records indicate that General Lafayette led 4000 French troops to assist the American Continental Army against the British troops.”

Historical significance aplenty. Untitled

The six acre property is also the final resting place for hundreds and hundreds of soldiers of the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, the War of 1812, the Spanish-American War, WWI and II, and many believe that this land was an important part of the Underground Railroad as well. In the early 1900s, this property was also used as a military training grounds for U.S. Army soldiers during World War I and II, and many military artifacts were discovered on the grounds as well.

When you’re standing on the property, it’s impossible to imagine that so much happened there.

In 2008, after an owner of ill-repute abandoned the property after embezzling money, a Board of Trustees was appointed to restore the grounds to the condition you see today.

And now for the goats…


They come from upstate New York and are there for the entire summer. Because the grounds, and particularly the weeding, is all maintained by a group of volunteers, the goats more than pull their weight in helping with the “weeding.” There are feeding machines on the property, so for a few quarters, you can feed the goats while you’re visiting, and if you REALLY want to get involved, you can volunteer yourself any Saturday from 9 am until 1 pm. Assistance is needed with grounds work, landscaping, and planting activities. Wear covered shoes. Untitled

So, I was right. Definitely a unique place to visit, steeped with history, and it made for a laid-back and unusual Sunday afternoon.

Before I leave, just one more picture … I’m really glad I didn’t see this shot until we left. Notice anything unusual on the right side?


Hungry for more day trips or afternoon adventures?
You have just a few more weeks to catch the Dog Days of Summer in Boonton.
You can visit Thomas Edison’s estate, museum, and laboratory for a rich step back into his life and mind.
Head for the Jersey shore and Jenkinson’s Aquarium. It’s small, but packed with many sea creatures and knowledgeable and friendly staff.
If you have an avid rock collector or history buff in your family, visit the Sterling Hill Mining Museum. Because of the cool temps inside the mine, it’s perfect for a hot day.
Brookhollow’s Barnyard might have been the cutest farm we’ve visited so far.
The Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms is a great step back in time.
For even more activity ideas in the tri-state area, visit this appropriately-themed Pinterest board.

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