Salem Friends Graveyard and the Historic Salem Oak
This ancient tree is said to have shaded the Lenni Lenape, and local lore maintains that John Fenwick treatied with Native Americans beneath its branches upon his arrival here in 1675. The Religious Society of Friends, Salem Monthly Meeting, has owned the tree and surrounding property since 1681. This was the site of Salem’s first meetinghouse and is still maintained as the Friends Burial Ground. Salem Friends Meeting continues to care for the grounds and the tree.
Graveyard Access Policy
As a result of recommendations made by the Davey Tree Company and consideration of safety concerns, the following policy was approved by Meeting on 17 ninth month 2000.
Restricted access is needed for public safety as well as for the protection of the tree. Friends acknowledged the need for restrictions with the concern that the graveyard still be accessible.
The main gate will be kept closed with access to the graveyard through the gate farther down Broadway. Friends are asked to use the other gate.
Warning signs advising visitors of the danger to themselves and damage to the tree will be written and posted.
On 15 tenth month 2000, wording for the permanent sign was approved.
To ensure your safety, we must ask that you do not go under the limbs of the Salem Oak where you could be in danger. Limbs could fall from this tree at any time because of its age and structural condition. The Salem Oak is a wonderful tree, much loved by our community for its beauty and history. Please enjoy this treasure from the safety of the sidewalk.
Graveyard Burial Policy
Due to considerations of future space and consistency of practice, the following policy was approved by Monthly Meeting on 16 fifth month 1999.
The meeting will provide in its graveyard, spaces for burial of bodies and cremation ashes of members, members’ spouses, minor or dependant children, or significant other. If requested, the Clerk of the meeting will issue a minute for the surviving spouse, committing the Meeting to provide a burial space for said spouse.
Questions of eligibility shall be decided in a regular monthly meeting of the Salem Friends Meeting for business. Where there is an issue of eligibility, Friends are urged to present the question before death. If a question cannot wait, the consensus of the graveyard committee, the Clerk of the Overseers, and the Clerk of the Salem Friends Meeting shall prevail.
The graveyard will honor all requests on record.
Title to all graves or proposed graves shall remain with the Salem Friends Meeting. Spaces are not sold. Any reserved space will be released, if the person is interred elsewhere. The graveyard committee will shall review reservations every five (5) years, and remove any reservations, which are no longer needed. The graveyard committee will assign or reassign spaces to use room efficiently. Reserved spaces are not transferable.
At the time of interment, a donation of three hundred dollars ($300.00) is requested. In the event of a cremation, a donation of three hundred dollars ($300.00) is requested for the interment in a grave space. Additional interment of ashes in the same grave space will be accepted for a donation of three hundred dollars ($300.00) for each cremation. Cases of financial hardship will be dealt with individually.
The Treasurer will credit all donations to the Graveyard Maintenance Endowment Fund (GMED). The GMED shall be invested as directed by the Trustees. Income from the GMED shall support maintenance of the graveyard, perpetual care of the graveyard. If the Salem Friends Meeting budget does not call for the use of the income, the income shall be added to the principal.
Graveyard Monument Policy
Based on the long-standing practice of Salem Monthly Meeting , the following policy was confirmed by Monthly Meeting on 16 first month 2005 for the purpose of clarity.
The Salem Monthly Meeting burial ground is an ongoing public statement of our testimonies on simplicity, equality and integrity.
In accordance with our book of discipline entitled Faith and Practice, “Friends have traditionally expressed their commitments to simplicity and the equality of all persons by discouraging the use of elaborate grave markers. Graves should be marked by plain stones that bear only the name of the deceased and dates of birth and death.”
In keeping with the size and scale of the existing stones, monuments located in the cemetery are not to exceed the following dimensions: 18 inches tall by 24 inches wide by 12 inches deep. Monuments that mark a double plot may be up to 36 inches wide.
The design of all monuments should be an expression of simplicity in both detail and text. Shape is limited to a rectangular or slightly rounded top.
Multiple cremains interred in the same plot or cremains that share a plot with a casket must share a single monument and meet the regular restrictions.
Exception to this policy, including text other than name, birth and death dates, is to be approved in advance by Salem Monthly Meeting at a monthly meeting for business so that specific approval will be minuted.