The Village of Coxsackie has a vibrant group of community organizations for a variety of interests. We encourage you to join and contribute to those groups you find beneficial.
THE COXSACKIE VILLAGE CEMETERY
Coxsackie’s cemetery was a symbol of its newfound wealth and prosperity.
It was a cold day in March 1826, when a group of prominent citizens of Coxsackie met at the Dutch Reformed Church to make plans for “a new burial ground for the inhabitants of the Village and the Landing and those in the vicinity.” The community was growing, both in size and prosperity and, at that time, cemeteries were a symbol of a community’s wealth. This cemetery would be the second to be built in the county and would be a “grand tribute” to the community.
The cemetery was to be built in the center of the hamlet and would provide a parklike setting for visitors.
Committee members in charge of the development of the new cemetery were Epenetus Reed, Dorrance Kirtland and Abraham Van Dyke. They had been planning the cemetery over the prior year and concluded that they needed $300 to purchase the property, clear the brush, lay out the plots, grade and seed the property and erect a wrought iron fence. In order to raise the necessary funds, they would sell shares of stock at $5 each.
They appointed a committee to lay out the plots, which were to be 30 feet long and 9 feet wide, and according to a “plan.” It was agreed that the plots remaining unsold would later be sold at auction-but under the control of the committee. The subscription list was completed in 60 days during which time 56 subscribers raised sufficient funds to proceed with the plan. The original subscription list includes the names of Coxsackie’s early settlers and community leaders who purchased lots for their families.
The largest contributors were Epenetus Reed who purchased 4 plots, Dorrance Kirtland, Simeon Fitch, Abraham Van Dyke, and Dr. John Ely each purchased 3 plots and Gilbert Livingston, the Pastor of the Reformed Church took 2 plots.
On August 10, 1826, they purchased one and a quarter acre of land from Simeon and Lydia Fitch for $193.50. The land was not purchased in the names of the committee members, but rather as “Minister, Elders, and Deacons of the Reformed Protestants Dutch Church.” The deed was recorded at the County by Charles C. Abeel. (The Vedder Library has a copy of the original deed). The Treasurer for the new “burial ground” was Attorney John L. Bronk. Rozwell Reed held the mortgage on the Fitch property which the Fitchs paid on September 29, 1826. Now the committee could begin working on the cemetery, which began under the stewardship of Treasurer John L. Bronk.
Nicholas Lampman was paid $50 for building the “hearse house.” Sixty panels of fencing were purchased from Simon Fitch at 28 cents each and Thomas George was paid $11 to paint it.
Over time, 821 people have been buried in the cemetery, including 130 children under the age of 10 who are buried without family. Twenty bodies were buried in the cemetery before it was established and were probably moved from another location. The cemetery is the burial ground for two congressmen, veterans of the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and the War of 1812. Many of the founding families of Coxsackie are also buried here and it is an important part of Coxsackie’s heritage.
Over time, the cemetery fell into disrepair. Many of the marble stones had fallen and inscriptions were no longer visible. The wrought iron fencing was in poor shape and several sections had collapsed. Sadly, the Village was in jeopardy of losing an important part of its heritage.
In March 2018, just as the original founders had done 192 years prior, a group of citizens formed a committee to preserve the Village Cemetery. Inspired by the Coxsackie Village Historic Preservation Commission, the Village joined the effort, and the committee began working to preserve the site. The community joined the effort raising funds through donations to the Adopt a Grave Program.
After four years of volunteer work and community fund raising, the majority of the cemetery has been restored. In 2021 the cemetery was named as a New York State and National Historic Site and was awarded a Pomeroy Historic Marker.
The 1826 committee members would be proud to see their Community Cemetery restored.
-Betty Cure, Coxsackie Village Historian
The Hoot of the Owl Committee is inviting you to be part of the celebration, too. Won’t you please become a What a Hoot! Supporter? Your donation will help Coxsackie’s festival soar by providing much needed funding for promotion, thereby ensuring success.