Cemetery at the Silk Mill Ė results of research to date
Research to date indicates that the cemetery probably
stopped accepting new burials around 1890. There is no conclusive information
as to the exact date the cemetery was abandoned, although a date after 1910 is
most probable. Church records are not available and the city and county have no
information. None of the local historical societies have information on the
cemetery. No newspaper articles were located that mentioned the disposition of
the cemetery, but the index ends in 1912. A cursory search of the local
cemeteries in Bethlehem shows that no graves that were in the cemetery at the
Silk Mill were moved to other cemeteries.
There is a reasonable possibility that the graves were not
moved and that the headstones were simply removed.
- Cemetery was owned by St. Johnís Church of the Evangelical
Association. This church was associated primarily with the Evangelical
denomination and secondarily with the Methodists. The church merged with
the United Brethren Church in 1946 and became the United Methodist Church (a Korean church) in 1989. The present church building, dating to 1880,
is on the northeast corner of North and New Streets.
- The cemetery which was in the present location of the
gravel lot to the north of the Silk Mill was apparently established in the
middle of the nineteenth century. It was owned by St. Johnís Evangelical
church and went by the following names:
Goepp Street Cemetery
Methodist Cemetery (most common name on maps and city directories)
The original entrance to the
cemetery was on Goepp St.
- The cemetery was transferred in two sections to the
Bethlehem Silk Company (conveyed by the Trustees of St. Johnís Church of
the Evangelical Association). Tract 4 was sold on May 27, 1901. Shortly
thereafter the northern extension of the Silk Mill was built on this land.
Tract 5 was transferred on February 22, 1910. Nothing was built on this
- A search on the Bethlehem Globe from April to July 1901 to
Jan to April 1910 turned up no mention of the property sale or of the
disposition of the cemetery. A search in the Bethlehem Public Libraryís
Bethlehem Globe newspaper index from 1867 to 1912 did not turn up any
mention of the property sale or of the disposition of the graves in the
- The Bethlehem Public Libraryís newspaper index ends in
1912. It is possible that the graves were moved after this point; the only
way to see if it is included in the newspaper is to manually search the
years, day by day after 1912.
- The latest obituary listing for people in this cemetery in
the newspaper index is from the year 1890. It is possible that the
cemetery stopped accepting new plots at this point.
- The city directories list the ďMethodist CemeteryĒ up until 1911. The next city directory available is from 1917-18, which does not list
the cemeteries in Bethlehem. The next available city directory from 1923
does list the cemeteries in Bethlehem, but it does not list the Methodist Cemetery. The following new cemeteries appear in the 1923 directory which are not
in the 1911 directory:
Holy Ghost Cemetery
Memorial Park Cemetery
St. Joseph Cemetery
It is possible that the graves
were moved to one of these cemeteries.
- Fountain Hill cemetery, the largest protestant cemetery at
the turn of the twentieth century, did not have the graves of two people
from the Methodist Cemetery that I had the administrator of the cemetery
look up over the phone.
- A search using Internet gravesite listings (such as
findagrave.com) comparing obituary listings in the Bethlehem Public
Library index did not turn up any matches (approximately 50 names were
- The current church (United Methodist) in the same building
of St. Johnís Evangelical does not have any records previous to 1989.
- St. Georgeís United Methodist Church in Philadelphia was
supposed to receive all church records from St. Johns/United Brethren
prior to 1989. According to Brian McColskey from St. Georgeís, they
received no records older than 1976. He was going to check with Rev.
Russell Walters if he might know more information.
- The City of Bethlehem doesnít keep track of information on
cemeteries nor does Northampton County.
- The South Bethlehem Historical Society, The Moravian Historical
Society, and the Northampton County Historical Society have no information
on the cemetery.
- No history books on Bethlehem mention this cemetery
(approx. 20 books were checked).
- I called all the Methodist churches in the area to see if
they knew anything about St. Johnís Evangelical or of the cemetery. Only
one gentleman knew something of the church, but knew nothing of the
- Confirmed that St. Johnís Evangelical church is not
related in any way to the current St. Johnís Windish Evangelical Lutheran Church.
- The last remaining possibility is to call and check names
in each surviving local cemetery using names from obituaries in the
Bethlehem Globe Times newspaper.