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I Remember Mom: To Honor Thy Kemmerer Relatives

Feb 17, 2022 12:50PM ● By Richard Mabey Jr.

As long as I can remember, from the time I was a little boy, it was a long-standing tradition that the Kemmerer siblings would gather to honor their forefathers and foremothers by placing wreaths and grave covers, in Winter Time, on the graves of the Kemmerer men and women who had gone on to be with the Lord. It was a most solemn and reverent occasion. When Spring Time came, the Kemmerer siblings would place flowers on the graves of their departed loved ones. 

My mom’s people originally settled in Easton, Pennsylvania. There were of German descent and were part of the German community that once dominated Easton. My maternal grandfather, Edmund Kemmerer, grew up in Easton. In his coming of age, Grandpa learned to become a very successful electrician. 

My maternal grandmother, Lydia Capwell Kemmerer, grew up on a farm just outside of Easton. I am not exactly sure how my grandparents met. Family legacy has it that Grandpa’s family were friends with the Capwell family and would often visit them at their farm. More than likely, this is how my grandparents met.

For some reason, there was a migration of the Kemmerer clan to New Jersey, specifically to the towns of Hackettstown and Mount Olive. If you are a Kemmerer from either one of these towns, we are most likely related. My grandparents did live in Mount Olive for a short time, but then moved further east to the town of Boonton, where they lived on the 600 block of Boonton Avenue for the rest of their lives. They had nine children, five girls and four boys. My mom was the youngest of the clan. 

By the Spring of 2006, my mom and Aunt Alice were the only surviving siblings of all nine Kemmerer siblings. My mom had a brain surgery in January of 2006, but when Spring Time came around, Mom was strongly determined to join her sister Alice in planting flowers upon the Kemmerer gravesites. I was in awe of my mom’s fiery determination to honor her beloved relatives, who had passed on before her. Something about it, deeply touched my heart. 

My mom was a deeply religious person. So naturally, after we planted flowers at the Kemmerer gravesites, Mom would say a little prayer. I remember it all as a most quaint, earnest, and reverent little moment in time.

As a child and onto my teenage years, Mom, my sister Patti, and myself would often visit our Kemmerer relatives in Mount Olive and Hackettstown. Particularly during the summer months, when we were on vacation from school. Somehow and someway, when I went to college, I kind of lost track with my Kemmerer relatives in Mount Olive and in Hackettstown. In many ways, it now makes me very sad. 

We would often visit cousins of my mom who owned a pet shop in Hackettstown. Since my mom passed away, my sense of reconnecting with my Kemmerer relatives from Mount Olive and Hackettstown has reawakened, becoming more acute. I so dearly regret that I did not ask my mom more questions about the Kemmerer heritage, when Mom was still with us. 

Hold dear thy heritage. Forget not the gravesites of those dearly departed relatives. We live in the high-tech age. We live in an era of split-second timing. Still, there is something to be said for planting a flower or two at the gravesite of a loved one. To say a little prayer by their footstone. To honor the dear ones, who have gone on to be with the Lord. Truly, it is time well invested.

Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He can be reached at [email protected]. Please put on the subject line: I Remember Mom.