Peter Berst came to
America with his four children
by 1765 and was the first to be buried in this Waltonville cemetery
in 1798. The Berst family was the original owner of the first
brownstone quarry in the south hills of Derry Township and the first to
quarry brownstone for personal use.
Berst Family Burial Ground is thickly studded with graves. Many
of the headstones are of brownstone, quaintly carved, and bear
inscriptions in German script. Other headstones are granite. The
dates of death range from 1798 to the 1880s. Most of those buried
here are known to have been members of the Berst's extended family.
The cemetery is located on Waltonville Road,
1.5 miles south of State Route 322 and is documented on the map
of Derry Township in the Dauphin County Historical Atlas of 1875,
four-foot brownstone wall with an iron gate surrounds the cemetery.
These early Pennsylvania German settlers reposing in the small,
stone walled cemetery little dreamed that this outcropping of
Triassic sandstone, which probably hampered their plowing, would
some day make an indelible mark on American architecture. Evidence
suggests the wall was laid as a dry wall with no mortar joints.
1971, John Albert Berst located the cemetery and over the next
15 years he cleaned and repaired the wall and tombstones several
times. In 1977, he also poured concrete footers and reset the
stones, producing the order seen today.
A number of resources were
used to compile the present list (finalized in 2003), including
LDS Microfilm #21284, Claire Shirk's list of the Berst graves
(1932), several family lists (1977 and 1981) and other lists prepared
by the Historical Society. Since many of the stones are still
crisply carved, a local German teacher came to the cemetery to
help resolve discrepancies between lists. Some individuals, from
earlier lists, are included in the current listing even if no
stone can be found.
cemetery was donated to the Derry Township Historical Society
in 2001 and is currently being maintained by the Society. Three
veterans of the Revolutionary War are buried in this small cemetery.
Since the graves had never been decorated, a Decoration Ceremony
was held at the cemetery in 2001 and, in 2003, a historical marker
was placed documenting information about the Berst family and
the brownstone industry.
2004, the brownstone wall was cleaned and re-pointed thanks to
the generous contributions of the descendants of the Berst family.
Additional information about these early settlers may be available
by contacting the Derry Township Historical Society at 40 Northeast
Drive, Hershey PA 17033 or by contacting us by email.
We would be happy to conduct a
cemetery search or do more extensive research for you. The cemetery
search would include all Derry Township cemeteries plus others that are closely
associated with our township. Most of the names in our cemetery database
are not available elsewhere on the internet. The cost is $5 per surname
and you may supply up to three alternate spellings (total of four). If
you find your ancestors in the list below and require additional information,
For more thorough research, please
request a copy of our research policy. In addition, our obituary
list and our name index of "lost and
found" ancestors may be of interest to you. Please check our main library
page for these and other links, as we continue
to update our information on line.