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BERST   FAMILY  BURIAL GROUND

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.

The 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, p. 69.

A 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.

Around 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.

The 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.

In 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, please contact us.

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.

 

Names of those buried in this cemetery include:

Bersch (Juliana)
Bersch Catarina
Bersch Catrina
Bersch Eliza Margth
Bersch Elizabeth
Bersch Elizabeth
Bersch Johannes (I)
Bersch Peter (I)
Bersch Peter (III)
Berst Annie
Berst Catherine
Berst Elizabeth
Berst Elizabeth
Berst Infant
Berst Infant
Berst Infant
Berst Johannes (II)
Berst Peter (II)
Brandt Elizabeth
Brandt Susanna
Donn Catharine A.
Garvey Jacob M.
Garvey Mary M.
Longenecker Abraham
Longenecker Catharina
Longenecker Catharina
Longenecker Marabeth
Longenecker Maria
Longenecker Maria
Longnecker Abraham
Longnecker Catharine
Longnecker Daniel
Mackley Catharine
Mackley John
Mackley Samuel
Mackley Benjamin
 

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