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Mystery unearthed: How did NJ woman’s headstone end up on private property in Solebury?

A headstone was unearthed on private property in Solebury. Officials at the New Hope Colony Foundation for the Arts are trying to figure out where it came from.
A headstone was unearthed on private property in Solebury. Officials at the New Hope Colony Foundation for the Arts are trying to figure out where it came from.
New Hope Colony Foundation

It’s a 152-year-old Solebury mystery.

A headstone for Susan Van Campen, 57, who died in 1872, was found on the private property of New Hope Colony Foundation for the Arts (NCFA) at 2594 River Road in the township.

And now the Solebury Historical Society’s Archival Team and the Foundation would like to know how and why it got there.

Lawrence P. Booth, Foundation president, was recently doing routine maintenance on the property and found a headstone with the engraving: “Susan Van Campen, wife of Elijah Van Campen, born June 17, 1815, died March 2, 1872.”

He and Beth Walker, his digital media officer, put together a Facebook plea for information:

“A search for the name shows that she died in Warren, N.J.

“So, how did her tombstone come to be found on a private property not designated as a cemetery? We would love to discover who she was and return her headstone to its proper burial place.

“We’ve notified the Solebury Township Police Department, The Friends and Solebury cemeteries as well as our local Historical Societies and the Bucks County Herald.

“If anyone knows anything about Mrs. Van Campen or how to contact her descendants, please reach out to us at”

So far, according to Booth, Walker spent some time working on the mystery (mostly on, “and we believe we’ve found a possible family tree.”

The Solebury Historical Society’s archival team found that:

“The Van Campen family lived in Pahaquarry, Warren County, New Jersey. Elijah Van Campen, son of James Van Campen and Saliche (sp?) Decker, was born August 25, 1811 and baptized in Dutch Reformed Church, Walpeck, N.J. Elijah married Susan Van Campen (presumably a cousin of some kind) and they had at least three children, Emma, Ila, and Henry. Elijah probably died in 1849. Susan’s records indicate that she was born in 1815 and died in 1872.

“There’s a Calno-Van Campen Cemetery in Pahaquarry, apparently not maintained. We don’t have information yet on who owns the cemetery property. The town of Pahaquarry was apparently dissolved in the late-1990s.

Even the researchers seem to have gotten caught up in the mystery.

“It’s very strange that this headstone wound up in Solebury,” they went on in correspondences with NCFA officials. “We would love to take a closer look at the headstone, and perhaps see where on your property it was found. In the photo, there appears to be additional marking near the bottom of the stone. It’s a fascinating project to figure out how the headstone got separated from the grave proper, let alone was moved to Solebury.

“There are at least three members of researching the VanCampen family and there may be more. Once we are more convinced that we have the correct family, we can contact members to solicit their interest in the headstone.”

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