The Cemetery at Boehm's United Church of Christ
About the Cemetery
Boehm’s Church Cemetery (active) is one of the oldest cemeteries in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Located in Blue Bell, it is owned by Boehm’s United Church of Christ, and the earliest known grave is dated 1752. While church-affiliated, it contains graves of many community members beyond the church’s membership rolls. The most recent internment was in 2019. The cemetery reflects the tentativeness of life, particularly through the 1700’s and 1800’s. Many of the graves are those of children who did not live past infancy or the first few years of their lives. Other graves’ dates reflect how short life could be for those reaching adulthood. It is a microcosm of the surrounding community as a whole and contains the graves of many early settlers in the area, many of whose descendants still reside in the local area.
History of Boehm's Church Cemetery
he original Boehm’s Church was built in 1747. The oldest known grave in the cemetery is dated 1752. The deed for the original church grounds is dated February 8, 1747, and was given by John Lewis to Rev. John Philip Boehm, minister, Michael Clime, Arnold Ruttersham, and Andrew Acker, church wardens, “In trust, nevertheless, for the use of ye said congregation of the High Dutch Reformed Church, formed by the Christian Synod held at Dorbrecht in Holland in the year 1618-1619, so that the said congregation shall hold, follow and adhere to the principles of the Heidelberg Catechism, and for no other purpose whatsoever. And further, that the Tested Church Wardens of said congregation, from time to time forever after shall be careful to uphold and maintain the above recited principles, and that no new Church Wardens shall have power to alter or make void anything that has been done or established before them.”
In 1834, additional land was acquired. Casper Schlater purchased from John and Cahrles Styler a tract of land containing approximately nine acres adjoining the church property to be used as a place for burial. The ground is laid out in lots for the use of members and others whenever required. The land was subsequently laid out in lots 8’ x 20’, for the use of members only provided they contribute annually for the upkeep of the cemetery.
Church by-laws were revised in 1888 to allow for a portion if the ground to be set aside as a free place for all those wishing to be interred therein, as was the wish of the purchaser of this ground in keeping with the tradition of the congregation which states, “A lineal descendant of the congregation would not rest in his grave were his bones not mingled with those of his ancestors, and no matter what cause has necessitated his separation from the congregation or neighborhood, year after year the bell of old Boehm’s Church tolls the knell of the departed.” They still hold to the tradition, “Lay my bones with those of my father.”
After the Battle of Germantown on October 4, 1777, the church served as a hospital for Washington’s Army. Many American soldiers died and are buried in the cemetery in unmarked graves. The remains of the Revolutionary War dead were discovered in 1876 when the main walks in the cemetery were graded and covered with sand. These remains bore the marks of battle. The remains were collected and reburied in a common grave marked with a stone provided by the Valley Forge Chapter, The Daughters of the American Revolution, which was given to the church on July 4, 1967.
The cemetery contains the graves of veterans of all major U.S. wars from the American Revolution through the Vietnam War. The numbers are as follows:
Revolutionary War: 8
War of 1812: 1
Civil War: 24
Spanish-American War: 2
World War I: 9
World War II: 27
Korean War: 2
Vietnam War: 2
Peace Time Veteran: 3
Nine of the veterans interred in the cemetery were killed in action. This number does not include the unknown soldiers who fought and died at the Battle of Germantown who are laid to rest there.
Boehm’s Church actively honors its war veterans with special commemorative services on Memorial Day weekend and Veterans Day. These services extend beyond the church membership throughout the community, and many community organizations participate including the local American Legion Post, local Girl Scout and Boy Scout Troops and the Montgomery County Department of Veteran’s Affairs, as well as individual participation by community members and other local churches. Veterans’ graves always are marked with an American flag, and wreaths are placed at Christmas in recognition of their sacrifice on behalf of the United States.
The cemetery contains the graves of eight ministers who served Boehm’s Church including that of Rev. John Philip Boehm under the altar of the original church for whom the church is named and who was the founder of the Reformed Church in America. Many state, county and local officials are interred an Boehm’s including the Hon. Jones Detwiler, who served as a state senator from 1876-1878, the Hon. Mahlon S. Sellers, state assemblyman from 1878-1880, Courtlandt S. Morris, head of the Montgomery County Justices of the Peace in the 1930’s, the Rev. George Wack, the Montgomery County Register of Wills 1818-1821, and Daniel Yost, Montgomery County Commissioner from 1843-1847. Sixteen individuals interred in the cemetery served as local Whitpain Township officials.
For information on burials, ancestry/genealogy research, and other information regarding the Boehm's Church Cemetery, please contact the Boehm's United Church of Christ office.