Search for grandfather's remains is one step closer to completion
County says Turnpike should handle rest of site
Thursday, February 13, 2003
By Brian Spadora
SECAUCUS - Patrick Andriani is close to finding his grandfather's grave after a two-decade search, and he said he will continue to push for the restoration of a disused Hudson County burial ground.
Andriani and his father, Gennaro, were two of about 15 people who attended a memorial service Sunday near the cemetery, which holds the remains of Gennaro Andriani's father, Leonardo, and roughly 3,500 others.
The New Jersey Turnpike Authority, which is planning to build a railroad transfer station and highway interchange on the site, near the eastern spur of the Turnpike, will begin disinterring the graves on Tuesday , according to Turnpike Authority spokesman Joseph Orlando. Orlando said the disinterment will end some time in the summer.
The remains will be reburied in Hoboken Cemetery in North Bergen by September, and a monument with the names of those who can be identified will be erected, Orlando said.
The Turnpike Authority will create a fund for the upkeep of the new graves.
While Patrick Andriani knows the plot number where his grandfather is buried, locating the remains might be complicated by incomplete records and the fact that some plots may contain the remains of more than one person.
"I'm happy about what's going on here," said Patrick Andriani, who grew up in Union City and lives in Succasunna. "Hopefully, in a couple of months, we'll know about my grandfather."
During the service, which was held in a tent Sunday afternoon below the highway, four clergy members led prayers for those buried nearby.
As a strong wind raised the tent's walls, exposing the snow-covered ground outside, the Rev. Donald Guenther of Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church in Secaucus prayed that the disinterment "be as reverent and thorough as humanly possible."
Patrick Andriani said reverence for the dead must extend beyond the 3-acre site used by the county between 1922 and 1962, which makes up about a third of the burial ground. He said the rest of the site, which records show contains 6,000 to 9,000 bodies that were buried from 1880 to 1922, should be cleared of several feet of fill.
"I don't want anyone to think that because I've found my grandfather it's over," he said. "There's 3,500 people here, there's another 6,000 in the other section. This is about more than my grandfather."
The Turnpike Authority, which initially resisted Patrick Andriani's efforts, finally agreed in December to allow him to participate more fully in the disinterment process.
He is now calling on Hudson County to handle the rest of the site because it is responsible for the cemetery's condition.
But William Gaughan, chief of staff to County Executive Tom DeGise, disagrees.
"We're accommodating (the Turnpike Authority) by allowing them to come in and do what they have to do," Gaughan said. "I would hope they would handle the complete site."
Gaughan said attorneys for the county and the Turnpike Authority are still negotiating the rest of the cemetery's fate.
"It's not an adversarial position," he said of the negotiations. "We're just trying to do what's right."
While Patrick Andriani sees a new cause to champion, his father sees a long-awaited conclusion.
Gennaro Andriani emigrated from Molfetta, Italy, to Hudson County in 1953, five years after Leonardo Andriani was buried.
After so many years of searching for his father's remains, Gennaro Andriani briefly spoke of his plans for the burial.
"I'm going to get a crypt," he said, before quickly returning to a more familiar subject. "I have to find him first. I've got a feeling we'll find something. We've tried to look for over 20 years. I hope this time we're lucky."
Copyright 2003 The Jersey Journal.
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