The issue today is the same as it has always been throughout all history, whether man shall be allowed to govern himself or be ruled by a small elite. ~ Thomas Jefferson.
A short distance from the Fairfield House is a historic cemetery dating from the colonial period. The location is identified by a few names: “Old Christ’s Church” on the Cohansey River, the “Old Fairfield Church”, the “Old New England Town Church” and “Swing Cemetery”.
The site originated in 1680 as a Meeting House called Christ’s Church, part of the settlement known as New England Towne, established by a congregation of Puritans from Fairfield, Connecticut and Long Island, New York. In 1697, the First Presbyterian Church of South Jersey was formed by these settlers. It was one of the six churches that originated in Philadelphia as the first Presbytery in America.
This granite monument stands on the site of their first log meeting house. It was dedicated in 1909. John Ogden’s grave stone still exists. He died on December 22, 1745 at age 75 and is noted prominently on the monument.
In 1717, a framed shingled meeting house replaced the original and was used until declared unsafe in 1775. The congregation then purchased other land and moved. In the 1790’s Michael Swing, the pioneer Methodist preacher purchased a farm at New England Town and a meeting house, called the Swing Meeting House, was constructed directly in front of the graveyard of the Fairfield Presbyterian Church. Soon afterwards, Methodists began burying their family members in the church graveyard, hence the name Swing Cemetery.
There are several Revolutionary War Veterans laid to rest here alongside their fathers and the changes wrought over a single generation are striking. The earliest graves in this small cemetery are the resting place of men who died loyal subjects of the British Crown. Their sons died American citizens, founders of a new nation destined to become the greatest in history, a beacon of liberty to the entire world. Surely none of that was foreseen. In one generation so much was swept away and so much more was gained. For all of history it has been this way, the passing from one generation to the next is the key moment in which everything can change.
These patriots endured many ordeals in their long struggle to be free of English rule. They began by demanding recognition of their natural rights as Englishmen, and finished by establishing a new nation conceived in liberty. Their new nation enshrined the right of men to be free to live according to their own purposes and not those of an overreaching and far away elite. It gives me pause to consider the current state of our union. What would these Patriots say today–how well have we preserved the liberty each generation holds in trust for the next, and for which they laid down their lives? So much can change so quickly, a generation from now will anyone even recall the liberties we have lost or question the authority we will have come to accept?