Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Bissonette Tours Hamlets Cemeteries

Brookhaven Town Officials Tour Historic Brookhaven and South Haven Burying Grounds

After the successful restoration of the historic Rose Family Cemetery on Jared's Path during 2008, the Fire Place History Club and the Brookhaven Village Association are working to restore and conserve three additional historic cemeteries in the Hamlets of Brookhaven and South Haven -- the Azel Hawkins Cemetery on Stillwood Road, the Old South Haven Church Cemetery in South Haven, and the Carman-Miller Family Cemetery, also in South Haven.  Funds for this work are being provided by a Caithness Grant from the Town of Brookhaven and community contributions through the Brookhaven Village Association Cemetery Fund. 

For this work to have a sustaining success, routine grounds maintenance of these cemeteries, as well as other burying grounds in the two hamlets, needs to be conducted by the Town of Brookhaven as required by New York State law.  Accept for two highly visible cemeteries in Brookhaven Hamlet, this work has not been conducted in the recent past.  After some three years of efforts to obtain Town compliance, a group of citizens in Brookhaven Hamlet have notified the Town that they will file an article 78 action at the end of June against the Town to force their compliance with the law.  An article 78 action is a procedure under New York State Law which allows citizens to sue a Town for compliance with State law.

On Wednesday, June 3, 2009, members of the Fire Place History Club conducted a tour of historic cemeteries in the two hamlets for Carol Bissonette, Deputy Commissioner, Town of Brookhaven Parks Department.  In addition to the three cemeteries scheduled for restoration and conservation this year, the group also visited other cemeteries as examples of sites in need of routine grounds care -- the Miller and Corwin family cemeteries in Brookhaven, and the David Hawkins Cemetery in South Haven/Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge.

In general, we were well pleased with the interest Ms. Bissonette expressed in conserving these historical assets and the commitments she made on behalf of the Town Parks Department to maintain the cemeteries.  The proof, of course, is in the pudding.

Azel Hawkins Cemetery, Stillwood Road

This burying ground is scheduled for conservation and restoration during the Summer of 2009 using a Caithness Grant from the Town of Brookhaven.

Marty Van Lith, Fire Place History Club; Mary Jane Cullen, President Brookhaven Village Association; Ron Kinsella, Fire Place History Club; Carol Bissonette, Deputy Parks Commissioner, Town of Brookhaven; and a Brookhaven Town Parks Maintenance Supervisor.


Old South Haven Presbyterian Church Cemetery

This burying ground within the South Haven Suffolk County Park (old Robinson Farm) is currently being restored with a Caithness Grant from the Town of Brookhaven.

Carol Bisonette, Deputy Commissioner, Town of Brookhaven Parks Department; Marty Van Lith; and Hollis Werner, proprietor of the Peconic Monument Works, Riverhead.  Hollis is providing stone repair and resetting of the monuments.  The Suffolk County Department of Parks is providing new fencing; and the Town of Brookhaven is providing lawn care and routine maintenance.


Old South Haven Church Cemetery

Carol Bissonette examining  a headstone under repair by Hollis Werner.


Carman-Miller Cemetery, South Haven

This cemetery contains graves of the Carman and Miller families of 17th and 18th century South Haven.  The Carmans River gets its name from a member of this family.  This cemetery is an island within the South Haven Suffolk County Park. Headstones are currently being restored using a Caithness Grant from the Town of Brookhaven.. The Suffolk County Parks Department will be providing fencing.  The Town of Brookhaven Parks Department will be providing routine mowing and maintenance.

Ron Bush, owner of the nearby Bush Farm and private farm implements museum, and Carol Bissonette discuss the condition of the cemetery.


Carman-Miller Cemetery, South Haven

Eric Crater, Assistant Director of Historic Services, Suffolk County Parks; Ron Bush, Marty Van Lith, Ron Kinsella, and Carol Bissonette discuss tasks required to conserve this historic cemetery.


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