New England Towne Burying Ground (1680)
Swing Cemetery (1819)
Back Neck Road (County Road 601)
at New England Cross Road (Methodist Meeting Road)
Fairfield Township, Cumberland County, NJ
You may know it as the “Old Christ’s Church” on the Cohansey River, the “Old Fairfield Church”, the “Old New England Town Church” or “Swing Cemetery”. Whatever name you choose to use, you are referring to the historic cemetery located on Back Neck Road in Fairton, NJ. Congregational Puritans from Fairfield Connecticut were sponsored by New Haven merchants to settle on the shores of the Delaware Bay in the late seventeenth century. By 1680, a congregation had gathered at “New England Crossroads” on the Cohansey River. By 1708, Christ's Church of Fairfield had become Presbyterian. It may have been one of the six churches that originated in Philadelphia as the first Presbytery in America. In 1775, the congregation decided to build a new church. And soon they moved to the Old Stone Church location.
Methodism most likely reached Fairfield via the Methodist Circuit Riders. The earliest record of Methodism in Fairfield was the late 1790’s. Michael Swing, a young Methodist man from York Pennsylvania, purchased a farm in 1790 from Rev. Daniel Elmer. In 1791, he was licensed to preach. Methodists were holding meetings in private residences until 1819-20 when a meeting house, called the Swing Meeting House, was erected directly in front of the graveyard of the Fairfield Presbyterian Church. Methodists began burying their family members there, hence the name Swing Cemetery. (Courtesy of Fairfield Environmental Commission)