Rosendale's Old Founder Cemetary

Text and photos by Rod Bicknell, of Rosendale Discovered

** Click here for the map location of cemetery **

Regarding the Jacob Rutsen Cemetery on Central Avenue in Rosendale, NY, the Ulster County Property Parcel Viewer reports the cemetery property as “Owner Unknown.” Such properties are usually maintained by the local community – in this case, the town of Rosendale.

In her 1976 book Footsteps Across Cement, A History of the Township of Rosendale, New York, Ann Gilcrest (LeFever), says that the Rutsen Cemetery on Central Avenue was restored in the early 1960s and “a marker was erected over Rutsen’s grave which carries the single epitaph, ‘Jacob Rutsen, Founder of Rosendale, 1650-1730.’”

The Rutsen family cemetery dates to the 17th Century and was located near Colonel Rutsen’s stone house, which was behind and above what is now Fann’s Plaza on Rte 32. There was a Historical Marker on Rte 32, but it has vanished.

Jacob(us) Rutsen — originally Jacobsen Rutger van Schoonderwoerdt, Mount Joppenbergh was named after him — was the first person of European descent to settle in the Rosendale area. He was a Dutch merchant born in Albany, NY. In 1667 he first purchased a tract of 40 acres from a local Indian named Anckerop. Then, in 1682, 15 members of the Esopus tribe sold him more land alongside the Rondout Creek.

A 1686 patent declared that the Rutsen Rosendale estate was composed of 395 acres to the south of the creek and 240 acres to the north. There was an additional 12-acre island within the creek. The area was avoided as a flood plain by other settlers.

The settlement, reports Wikipedia, was known as “Rosendall” as early as 1700, and was called “Roasendale” in documents dated to 1685. The name is thought to be either a reference to the wild roses that grow in the region or of Dutch origin as the word existed in Netherlands’ documents of the period.

As well as being a property investor and farmer, Jacob Rusten was a magistrate, member of the Colonial Assembly, and a Colonel in the Ulster County Militia.

Rutsen married Maria Hansen Bergen in 1675. Their daughter, Catherine, married Johannes Hardenbergh — son of one of the owners of Sojourner Truth in nearby Rifton. Their son, also named Johannes Hardenbergh, (1706-1786), succeeded to and long occupied the Roosendaal home of his deceased grandfather, Jacob Rutger.

Another of the couple’s sons, the Reverend Jacob Rutger Hardenbergh (1735-1790), a Dutch Reformed clergyman, was the first president of Queen’s College (now Rutgers University), and was a member of the Provincial Congress of New Jersey and the New Jersey General Assembly during the American Revolution..

About 1830 the “Hardenbergh” land at Roosendaal was divided into three lots of two hundred acres each and sold. The lot with the stone house was purchased by John Woodmancy. Woodmancy’s daughter, Mrs. Thomas Cornell, inherited the property and in later years it was known as the Cornell place.

In 1911 the still occupied house was struck by lightning and totally destroyed.

Population Center

Rosendale did not become a major population center until the 1825 discovery of Rosendale cement, dolomite, during the building of the Delaware and Hudson Canal. When the canal builders arrived in Rosendale, a hundred years after Rutsen, it is said that the town of Rosendale had only two houses — Rutsen House and Tommy Tillson’s house.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Cemetery Listing

There are 34 grave stones found in the Rusten Cemetery and listings, name and dates, vary. Here is one listing:

  • John Ashton ?-1845
  • Margaret Ashton ?-?
  • Maurice Ashton ?-1833
  • FHB ?-1840
  • Richard Cornell 1824-1835
  • Catherine Rusten Hardenbergh 1676-1745
  • Charles, S. Hardenbergh 1790-1827
  • Jane Wood Hardenbergh 1789-1855
  • John C. Hardenbergh 1815-1839
  • Polly Helm ?-1798
  • Andrew Howe ?-1839
  • Franklin Howe 1838-1842
  • James Howe ?-1864
  • Margaret C. Howe ?-1849
  • Jeremiah Merritt 1800-1861
  • Jeremiah Merri 1794-1856
  • Maribah Woodmanseer Merritt 1794-1856
  • Jacob Rutgers Rutsen 1650-1730
  • Maria Hansen Bergen Rutsen 1651-1736
  • Jacob, C. Sammons 1785-1861
  • Mary Krom Sammons 1792-1868
  • Abraham Shader ?-1844
  • Ira Shader ? 1844
  • Ann Maria Smith 1839-1840
  • Catherine Hadenbergh Snyder 1798-1827
  • John Steffens 1822-1852
  • Rheina Steffens 1851-1858
  • Willie H. Tenhagen 1863-1863
  • Charlie Tillson, ?-1857
  • Phebe Woodmasee Tillson ? 1856
  • Ann Eliza Woodmansee 1798-1848
  • John Woodmansee 1800-1832
  • William Woodmansee 1789-1851