|Rodef Shalom Cemetery, Bellefonte|
There are three “hidden” cemeteries within the imaginary borders of what we call Bellefonte. Though none of the three are actually within the defined borders of the Bellefonte town limits, the cemeteries exist within the area that locals refer to as Bellefonte. The three “hidden” cemeteries are Sunnyside Cemetery, Friends Burial Ground, and Rodef Shalom (Hebrew) Cemetery. All three are located in Spring Township, just outside the town limits.
I've already mentioned the Sunnyside Cemetery and the Friends Burial Ground, but for some reason failed to reveal the third cemetery that is most often overlooked by the residents of Bellefonte. Located along Route 550, also known as Buffalo Run Road, the Rodef Shalom Cemetery sits silently on the hillside between two houses, easily missed by those passing by.
Rodef Shalom, which translates roughly as "Pursuers of Peace," is a small cemetery founded by Abraham Sussman is 1872. Two years later, he deeded the land to the Hebrew Cemetery Association of Rodef Shalom with Sussman being a member of the board. Abraham Sussman died May 20, 1878, but interestingly is not buried here; he's buried near Lewistown.
The cemetery, though left with a trust fund, fell into disrepair and was forgotten by many. After World War Two, Nathan Krauss discovered the existence of the cemetery and saw to its clean-up and arranged for the use of the trust fund to maintain the cemetery grounds. Though the cemetery is considered an active one, the last burial was in 1957.
This is the last cemetery of the three that I had taken the time to visit. The other two "lost" cemeteries had seen my presence a number of times, but it wasn't until this past year that I finally stopped and explored this cemetery. Strangely enough, this was the one cemetery that I knew about for the longest time.
Arriving at the cemetery, I found the small cemetery in great condition. The quarter acre is on a hillside, with most of it open field; a rough count revealed about fifty stones, most of which were still in great condition despite their age. There is an iron fence at the front of the cemetery, but most of the fencing has disappeared from around the cemetery. At one time there obviously was a gate at the top of the steps in the front, but the gate too has disappeared into history.
I walked the cemetery (it took about ten minutes) but I failed to recognize any of the names of those buried there. I found the Hebrew inscriptions interesting and I wish that I could have read them while I was there (I did find the translations in a local cemetery book since then). I did find in this small cemetery two Civil War veterans and a veteran of the Spanish-American War.
Walking the cemetery for the second time, nothing really jumped out to me so I paid my respects and left the cemetery in silence.
The Rodef Shalom Cemetery is located along Route 550 (West Water Street) in Bellefonte. At the red light (junction of Routes 150 and 550) turn south onto West Water Street. The cemetery is located about a half mile on the left hand side of the road. It is the same size as the residential lots that surround it and can easily be missed if you aren't paying attention.