Forty Fort Meeting House
and Cemetery

About

 

Special Recognition

The Forty Fort Cemetery Association was incorporated on March 6, 1860 and has since provided Forty Fort, PA with an historic open green space.  For years it was a viable business but no longer has plots for sale providing income.  The devastating events of Hurricane Agnes in 1972 destroyed not only 4 acres of the cemetery but the endowments set up for perpetual care.  At one time the cemetery had 5 full time caretakers and one full time office manager.  Today the cemetery struggles to afford a season caretaker and relies on volunteer help to manage the business affairs of both the Forty Fort Meeting House and the Cemetery.

Following the devastating events of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee in September of 2011 the Board of Managers decided to bring onto the board six new members not associated with the cemetery by virtue of plot ownership but by community involvement.  These community members are Andy and Susan Tuzinski, Thomas Craig, Nancy Lychos, Rob Bresnahan, and Edward Kopec

It is the new mission of the Forty Fort Cemetery Board of Managers to couple with government agencies, charitable foundations, and the Forty Fort Borough to preserve this priceless resource for the Forty Fort Community as well as the general public interested in the history of Wyoming Valley.  This history begins with the Susquehanna Company and the First 40 settlers who built a fort along River St. in 1769.  Luke Swetland and Nathan Dennison are both buried here.  Their homes are to this day a part of the West Side Trail of History.  The names of Hoyt, Dorrance, Shoemaker, Denison and Swetland are all associated with the Meeting House and Cemetery. 

The Cemetery provides a beautiful open space which is enhanced by the Memorial Park dedicated to those persons whose gravesites were destroyed by Agnes.  This gives the cemetery the feel of a college campus with its tree lined, sweeping lawn spread beneath the grass covered levee.  The reality of the cemetery today is that of a place to recreate and access the levee system.  On any given day 90 to 100 percent of the traffic through the cemetery is going to the levee, not plot owners visiting their family grave sites.  Most managed cemeteries close and lock their gates at 4 or 5 PM, but it is the resolve of the board to allow access of this park like setting beyond normal business hours providing greater opportunity for community enjoyment.

The current Board of Managers 2017 is as follows:

  • Matthew F. Schooley, President Forty Fort Cemetery Association
    Nancy Lychos, President of the Forty Fort Meeting House
    Preservation Committee
    Geraldine Nesbitt, Vice President
    Harry Montz, Treasurer
    Carole Poggi, Secretary
    Richard M. Hughes III
    Sara Nesbitt Gomez
    Andy Tuzinski
    Susanne Tuzinski
    Thomas Craig
    Robert Bresnahan
    Edward Kopec
    Dorothy Darling Manglesdorff

 

Special recognition is due in memory of John Novak, Jr., who served the Cemetery since March 1927 when he succeeded his father as superintendent of the Cemetery Grounds. 

Throughout the years, John tended the Cemetery with love and pride in the peaceful beauty which he helped to create and maintain.

No one was more overwhelmed by shock and horror when the grounds and graves were desecrated in one terrible day. The process of restoration was overwhelming, but John responded to the depressions, frustrations and daily challenges with hard work and a brave heart. He, above all others, brought back order and beauty through his courage and love.

Although John officially retired in October 1985, he still visited the Cemetery almost daily until his death on September 28, 1988. He will be remembered with respect and affection by all who were privileged to know him.