Saturday, August 15, 2009

Fred Gillespie. 1916-2009

Sad News

Dear All,

Frederick Joseph (Fred) Gillespie suffered an aortic aneurysm ~7 pm Thursday, August 13, held on, conscious, through night, died at 9 am Friday, August 14th.

Fred's wake will be Sunday and Monday, 2-4 and 7-9 at Robertaccio's Funeral Home, 85 Medford Avenue (Rt. 112), Patchogue, N.Y. 11772.  Phone: 631-475-7000.  My understanding is that there will be a 10 AM mass Tuesday at St. Joseph The Worker Church, 510 Narragansett Ave., East Patchogue, [NOTE CHANGE OF CHURCH] and the burial at Oaklawn afterward.  Fred's family asked me to pass the word along to you thanking everyone in the history club for all that we are doing and that for the past 6 years Fred really enjoyed working with us.


Also visit Ken Spooner's remembrances of Fred by clicking here

Frederick Joseph Gillespie - Gillespie Place, Brookhaven, NY

Frederick Joseph Gillespie - Birth Certificate

Frederick Joseph Gillespie - 1924 Elementary School Roster

Frederick Joseph Gillespie - 1928-1930 School Picture, Brookhaven, NY

Frederick Joseph Gillespie - 1924 Elementary School Picture, Brookhaven, NY

Frederick Joseph Gillespie - Family Picture

Frederick Joseph Gillespie - World War II Picture

Frederick Joseph Gillespie - World War II

Frederick Joseph Gillespie - WW II memorial cap

Frederick Joseph Gillespie - Memorial Cannon
Fred spearheaded the upgrading and maintenance of the Memorial Triangle.  When he was a kid working for Charles Valentine, and when things were slow in the Brook store, Valentine sent him out to help the mason lay the foundation (with rocks) for the original placement of the cannon.  One of the "triangle" legs was named after him.

Frederick Joseph Gillespie - First Brookhaven, NY Fire House
Fred was an active member of the Brookhaven Fire Department.
Pictured is the first Brookhaven Fire House.

Frederick Joseph Gillespie - Yvonne, Fred's wife
Yvonne, Fred's wife

Frederick Joseph Gillespie - Fred and his wife Yvonne
Fred and Yvonne.

Frederick Joseph Gillespie - at Rose cemetary
Fred actively participated in the Fire Place History Club, recounting stories of early Brookhaven.
Here he is discussing the restoration of the Rose Cemetery.  His family farmed the Ireland property containing the the cemetery.

Frederick Joseph Gillespie

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

David Hawkins Cemetery Maintenance

David Hawkins Cemetery Aug 11, 2009

From Marty Van Lith

Getting the permit was half the fun, but the David Hawkins Cemetery is in relatively good condition located in a bucolic setting deep in the Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge woods. Eben Ludlow, George and Meg Koch and I cleared it in about an hour and then excavated four headstones for our stonemason, Hollis Warner, to evaluate. More pictures from Meg to follow.

Click picture for enlarged view.

Pictured Eben, George and Meg

Thursday, August 6, 2009

South Haven Presbyterian Cemetery Restoration (earlier blog)

Additional pictures of the fence repair provided by Meg Koch  -- who of course was the fifth member of the work group, but is not pictured.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

East Hampton Has it Right

Tending to the Town’s Deceased

Inventory of cemeteries updates burial sites, 
Preserves valuable history

[This article from the East Hampton Star demonstrates a very different approach to the maintenance and preservation of historic cemeteries in a sister Long Island town.]

By Joanne Pilgrim

Durell Godfrey Photos
Members of the Edwards family who died in the 1860s were buried in this graveyard in the historic district of Springs.     
(04/30/2009)    The thin gravestones are sprinkled in small groups  throughout East Hampton Town, small family cemeteries or single graves dating back centuries now often surrounded by houses or left, unvisited and perhaps forgotten, in a stretch of woods.

    Bearing the names of settlers, 18th and 19th-century residents, and the occasional visitor who, perhaps, arrived by whaling ship, the graves, some with carvings and inscriptions describing bits of the deceased’s life or death, could be considered a graphic and valuable history.

    Under state municipal law, the town is responsible for taking care of burial grounds, regardless of who now owns the property they are on. But over the years, as new residents have taken over the old family homestead sites and expanded into outlying areas, there has been no master list to keep track of all the burial sites.

    A list used by the town Parks and Recreation Department, which does the upkeep, dates from 1959 and is problematic as many of the landmarks and local nicknames used to identify the location of gravesites have disappeared or fallen out of use.

    At the request of Town Councilman Brad Loewen, members of the town’s nature preserve committee have created a new list. Eileen Catalano, a Springs resident, inventoried the cemeteries throughout the town — with the exception of active cemeteries, Native American gravesites in Montauk, and cemeteries within East Hampton Village — by compiling information from several sources, from town records to the Long Island section of the East Hampton Library, and the colloquial knowledge of members of organizations such as the East Hampton Daughters of the American Revolution, the Springs Historical Society, the East Hampton Trails Preservation Society, and local historians including Hugh King.

    With Scott Bennett, a retired 15-year employee of East Hampton’s Parks Department, she visited the known sites to inventory their conditions and make maintenance recommendations. Mr. Bennett was invaluable to the effort to catalog all of the sites, according to Ms. Catalano.

    In trekking with her to find scattered graves, Mr. Bennett encountered the previously unknown resting place of a distant relative, Joseph C. Bennett. His headstone and footstone, dated 1859, are on private property off Old Stone Highway in Springs.

    “That was a new one for me,” said Mr. Bennett, a 12th-generation member of his family. “That would have been one of the great, great, great-uncles,” he said. Mr. Bennett has done a little looking into the Bennett line, a number of whom are buried in an all-Bennett cemetery in Northwest. He found the graves of an Oscar Bennett, at Three Mile Harbor, and of a Mary Bennett, whose husband fought in the French and Indian War. Her husband is not interred with her, though. The “old folklore,” Mr. Bennett said, is that he died while away, and the ship bringing his body home got becalmed at sea. “I guess he got to smell,” Mr. Bennett said, “so they buried him at sea.”

    One gravesite that Mr. Bennett remembers tending can no longer be found —that of “Ned, faithful manservant to Capt. Jeremiah Osborn,” according to the onetime headstone. It was originally on land off Morris Park Drive in East Hampton, where, Mr. Bennett said, “I remember seeing the gravesite and having our gang paint the fence once.”

    But when Ms. Catalano, with Mr. Bennett and others, went to look for it, it was unclear which house lot it might now be on, and was apparent on neither. According to one neighbor, Ms. Catalano wrote in the cemetery report, the original purchasers of the property that contained the grave “sold it because they could not build on [a] cemetery, but [the] second buyers built right over it.” In that case, according to the movies, faithful Ned might one day make himself known to the new residents of his resting place.

    Another mystery involves a site treated as a grave by the Parks Department employees, who discovered a stone on Six Pole Highway in Wainscott that had “old white cedar posts around it and a couple of rails.”

    “We found that one and I brought it to Ken Scott’s attention; he said he thought it was a grave; we boxed it in,” Mr. Bennett said. (Mr. Scott was formerly the Parks and Recreation Department head.)

The headstones on old-time gravesites often provide insight into the history of East Hampton Town.

    But Tim Miller, a local surveyor, has suggested that the stone is not a grave marker but one of the stones once used as road markers. The site is still included in the cemetery list, but with a notation raising the question of its provenance.

    “We’ve got 40-some cemeteries throughout the town, including the ones on Gardiner’s Island,” Mr. Bennett said. “In those days people didn’t have any money — they buried their own.”

    Since news of the draft list has gotten around, several people have contacted Ms. Catalano to make sure she knows about a solitary headstone, or group of graves, here or there around town. The report, which was adopted by the town board as an official document last week, will be a work in progress.

    The report recommends that the town either gain ownership of abandoned cemeteries or designate them as historical landmarks. Some gravesites are now cheek by jowl with pool sheds or other backyard structures. Other graves have been crowded or overtaken by trees and other shrubbery over the years.

    Richard Whalen, a member of the nature preserve committee who is an attorney and land-use planner, who also worked on the cemetery report, said he will recommend that, where possible, the town obtain a quit-claim deed from the owners of land on which there are graves.

    Other recommendations in the report are that, after confirming ownership of the parcels and their tax map numbers, the information be submitted to Suffolk County to be considered in future planning; that maintenance plans be developed for the cemeteries, and that town legislation be enacted protecting areas around the cemeteries from encroachment by development and making it illegal to remove objects from or desecrate cemeteries or single gravesites.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cemetery Maintenance Lawsuit

Lawsuit Filed to Compel Town of Brookhaven, NY to Provide Cemetery Maintenance as Required By NYS Law
July 16, 2009

Marty van Lith of the Fire Place History Club reported on July 16, 2009:  "It's past the middle of July and most of our historic cemeteries are now again overgrown with vegetation. I feel that we've been patient and tried everything we could do for the past three years to get the Town of Brookhaven to do its duty and maintain these cemeteries. This morning our lawyer, Reggie Seltzer, and I created the legal documents to initiate an article 78 lawsuit against the Town, which Reggie will file with the County Clerk this afternoon. The actual court hearing may be months away."

To view the court filing, click here.

Article 78  is a provision in New York State Law which, among other things,  seeks to determine whether a governmental body or officer failed to perform a duty enjoined upon it by law, and direct a remedy -- in this case, a provision of New York State Town Law section 291 which in relevant part states:  "It shall be the duty of the Town Board to remove the grass and weeds from any such [abandoned] cemetery or burial ground  in such town at least three times in each year, and to erect and maintain suitable fences around such cemetery or burial ground."

The Town has requested and received an adjournment for a hearing later this fall.

Carman and Miller Family Burying Grounds

Work Continues on the Carman/Miller Burying Ground Restoration
South Haven, NY

Gravestone repairs are almost completed for the two small adjacent Carman and Miller families burying ground in South Haven New York.  Stone repairs are being made by Hollis Warner, proprietor of the Peconic Monument Works, Riverhead, NY.  Hollis has be contracted by the Fire Place History Club of Brookhaven Hamlet, using funds from a Town of Brookhaven Caithness Grant.

All the remains is the setting of the stones, providing fencing, and final clearing and cleanup of the site.

The monument below was badly shattered when a tree fell during a northeaster in the Fall of 2007.  The damage likely could have been prevented if the burying ground had been receiving proper maintenance.  Careful searching of the vicinity enabled finding all the fragments after the tree was cut away courtesy of the Suffolk County Department of Parks (they are technically not responsible for the site, however county park land surrounds it.  Maintenance of the site is the responsibility of the Town of Brookhaven.)

This is the memorial stone for Samuel Carman, Jr., famous proprietor of the inn and mill at South Haven, NY, and for a time in the early 19th century president of the Town trustees.

While most stone fragments were located and incorporated into the repairs, the missing fragments from this stone have not been located.

South Haven Presbyterian Cemetery

South Haven Church Cemetery Restoration Nears Completion
South Haven, New York

Work on the South Haven Presbyterian Church Restoration project neared completion Saturday, August 1, 2009 when five volunteers from the Fire Place History Club worked to replace broken and rotted rails and posts.  Materials were supplied by the Suffolk County Department of Parks.

Stone repairs were completed Tuesday, August 4, 2009, when gravel beds were provided for gravestones that could not be set upright.  Pictured below are gravestones of Priest David Rose family, Revolutionary War era pastor of the parish.  Sometime during an earlier generation, these stones had been set in concrete, and surrounding gravel has been provided to improve drainage and minimize further deterioration.  The only work remaining is further cleanup of the site, particularly the southeast corner which has yet to be cleared as promised by the Town of Brookhaven.