About two months ago, I stopped out at the Cemetery of the Highlands to visit the grave of Colonel Jesse Woodhull, my 1st cousin 9x removed, and was really just there to check on the headstones of his family following our winter weather. But while I was standing there, I had a “conversation” with Jesse that included telling him that he was going to help me tell the story of his life, and that of his brother, Ebenezer Woodhull. If you’re not a long time reader of my blog, I have been the sole caretaker of Ebenezer’s grave yard in Blooming Grove for many years now as it was all but abandoned since 1881. (You can read more about that here if you’d like.)
I wanted to give an update to the Caldwell family War of 1812 preservation project that I have been a part of. The digitization was completed some time ago and I finished the transcription for the Moffat Library this past January. Everything was put together, finalized, and the papers are now available for FREE online at the Hudson River Valley Heritage site (hrvh.org).
There is a super neat twist to this tale though that didn’t get published but I wanted to share here.
I have written before about the Woodhull Cemetery that my DAR chapter is wanting to preserve and restore. I’d been having quite a few roadblocks on the town level to getting official approval to make changes to the cemetery. One would think since it’s abandoned, that this should be a no-brainer. The town doesn’t really want to shell out funds to maintain it, so you think they’d be jumping at the chance to get rid of it. Part of that process is getting the deed and land records to prove that nobody currently “officially” owns the land.
My trip to the county clerk’s office to find the deed didn’t go so well. In fact, I was told my task would take months of research or I could pay a title search company nearly $600 to find it for me, to which I wanted to keel over on the spot. Determined, I came home and sat down at the computer to look through the old grantor/grantee records. And don’t you know…
On August 12th, my husband, my co-worker Colleen, and I attended a hands-on cemetery workshop where we learned how to properly treat and clean headstones. The workshop was sponsored by the Orange County Historian and was led by professional headstone cleaner & cemetery expert, Marianne Greenfield, a twenty-year member of the Association for Gravestone Studies and historian for the town of Delhi, NY. We joined Linda Standish, town historian at the Washingtonville, NY, cemetery that is cared for by Washingtonville Presbyterian Church. With their limited funding for perpetual care of the cemetery, it desperately needed some loving care and attention so the workshop was a great way to bring awareness to the cemetery’s needs while teaching at the same time.
In October 2016, I visited the Moffat Library for part of my genealogy course program to examine historic manuscripts. The Moffat Library had in their vaults a collection of letters from the Caldwell family of Salisbury Mills. Shockingly, these handwritten parchment letters were not properly preserved and were loosely stored in a damaged box. Despite their storage, the letters were in remarkable condition with minimal damage or fading.
I approached my DAR chapter about the state of the papers. At our March 7, 2017, meeting the Quassaick Chapter, NSDAR, voted in favor of providing the Moffat Library with a grant that would provide for preservation materials and the digitization of the 4 handwritten letters.