NUTLEY / BELLEVILLE, NJ — On the morning of July 4, Nutley High School junior Nicholas Russo was part of a Belleville Historical Society honor guard that paid a short visit to the old Belleville Dutch Reformed Church cemetery. The burial grounds are the final resting place of 68 Revolutionary War soldiers from what was then the village of Second River, which today is Belleville and Nutley.
The society’s regular Fourth of July annual event at the cemetery was postponed until September due to the health pandemic. Still celebrating the day though, on July 4 Russo set a flag and a Revolutionary War cannonball at the monument to Private Hermanus Brown, who lived in the Spring Garden section of Nutley, where the Brown homestead was in the vicinity of Prospect and High streets. Brown enlisted in the army at age 18 and had marched out of town with his father, Lt. Henry Brown, and his cousins, Issac and John, to counter a major British invasion of Union County. Brown’s young life came to a brutal end when he was struck by a British cannonball at the Battle of Connecticut Farms on June 8, 1870. His father and cousins returned his body to the church cemetery for burial. Brown, his father and cousins are all memorialized on a bronze plaque in front of Nutley High School.
According to Belleville Historical Society President Michael Perrone, the society was able to recreate the grave monument for Hermanus Brown several years ago after the discovery of historical documents. The inscription on Brown’s marker reads, “Behold me here as you pass by, who died for liberty, From British tyrants now I’m free, My friends prepare to follow me.” Brown was the first Nutley son to die in service to his country.
Photos Courtesy of Michael Perrone