A tombstone sporting one of the familiar local names - Fitz-Randolph - as in the family.
Samptown Graveyard Here We Come (Do da Do da?)
By Jessica Teal
Samptown proved to be a tranquil but interesting place. There were many graves from the 1600 & 1700’s and upon further research we learned that not only did Washington’s troops battle right along Clinton Ave (you can even find musket balls in the ground) but the cemetery was a public burial ground, meaning that soldiers of differing denominations who had fallen in war were laid to rest in this hilly site- we noted the flagged graves of war heroes and Rutgers/early Piscataway family names such as FitzRandolph and Suydam.
We also became aware of a presence that made itself known by piercing the tranquilty of the lazy summer afternoon with its haunting cries. While examining some nearly illegible old tombstones, we were startled by an unusual, high-pitched shrieking call and caught a glimpse of a very large and mostly light-colored bird that appeared to be some sort of a falcon swooping over the plots. The falcon or hawk was huge and its cry was so distinct and piercing that the RR Team immediately thought of the Dino-Bird of Blockbuster, that reputed pterodactyl-like creature that haunted the overdeveloped marshlands of South Plainfield by Middlesex Mall. The cry was similar, but the Samptown falcon did not have the volume or odd metallic note that was the hallmark of our Dino-Bird’s call. This falcon or hawk was fiercely beautiful though, and in scouring the internet for pics that best resemble our bird I came across two likely candidates- the peregrine falcon and the golden eagle (though the eagle’s a little darker than the bird we saw). We also found evidence of the falcon’s nifty talon-work in the grass as a large, strangled gardner snake was found under one of the falcon’s stooping spots. The snake bore all of the marks of a battle with merciless talons as the body had many nicks and its squished guts were spilling out of a raked belly. Co-investigator Ray and I reflected on the symbolic appropriateness of an eagle clenching a snake in its talons in a cemetery that honors American war heroes. Truth, justice and the American way prevail in peaceful, if boring, Ole’ Samptown, and we don’t want to hear any dirtbags claim otherwise!