[11 NJSuper Page 557] The plaintiff, East Ridgelawn Cemetery, has been engaged in litigation since 1910. In the present action it hopes to have determined all open questions and thus
put an end to litigation. This is a pious hope in which we all join.
Plaintiff seeks to have adjudged the question as to whether it must pay for the cemetery lands which it now holds, and, if so, to whom payment shall be made and in what amount. It also seeks to have established the priority as between the amount owed to creditors of the cemetery and the amount owed to the holders of land purchase certificates.
The history of the cemetery is so well known as a result of the prolonged litigation that no useful purpose would be served by a detailed statement of the facts. A brief resume will suffice.
In 1905 the defendant Adam Frank conceived the idea of establishing a cemetery in Acquackanonk Township, now the City of Clifton. With two associates, Pond and Tait, Frank set about the business of securing options on suitable property. The options covered some 270 acres. They were taken in the name of Herbert Gruber, a dummy for Frank.
Since the statute, R.S. 8:2-1, limited the area of any one cemetery to 125 acres, it became necessary for Frank and his associates to form two cemeteries. This they did, calling one East Ridgelawn and the other West Ridgelawn.
East Ridgelawn Cemetery was organized on October 3, 1905. The trustees were selected by Frank. A franchise was granted to the cemetery by the township committee on December 12, 1905.
On December 28, 1905, Frank and his associates offered to deed to the two cemeteries the 270 acres of land in return for 13,500 shares or certificates of interest in the money to be obtained by the cemeteries from the sale of plots for burial purposes. Frank's offer was accepted by both cemeteries. In order to carry out the scheme, Frank arranged for Gruber to convey the property to the Passaic Trust and Safe Deposit Company, later known as the Passaic National Bank & Trust Company. The deed for the lands now held by the plaintiff, a tract of some 121 acres, was dated December 21, 1906. On the same date the bank executed a declaration of trust which is in part as follows:
"FIRST. That on a request in writing of the said Herbert B. Gruber, his administrator or executor, it will convey the said land and premises above described to the East Ridgelawn Cemetery, a body corporate of the State of New Jersey, carrying on business in the Township of Acquackanonk in the County of Passaic and State of New Jersey, upon the following conditions:
(1) That the said land is to be used by it for cemetery purposes.
(2) That the said East Ridgelawn Cemetery shall pay as consideration therefor such amount as it may receive from time to time as the proceeds of sale of said ...