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…
It was super cool to find but, it gets so much more interesting and serendipitous for me! Turns out, the land that the cemetery sits on now, which is the land the Woodhulls owned and lived on, was sold to them in 1774 by my very own 8th great grand-father Nathaniel Jayne. I about fell off my chair. I knew the Jaynes and Woodhulls were in the same county during 1790 because they appear on the census for Orange County here just a page apart but I had positively NO idea that my grandfather owned the lands and sold it to my first cousins!
When I first found the Woodhull Cemetery, I was immediately drawn to it. The stones were so broken, so fragile and the grass was overgrown… it was just “alone” and I got so upset at seeing the neglected state of it – like on the verge of emotional tears. I was completely overwhelmed. Without really knowing my full connection to whom was buried there, I knew, that I knew, that I knew, I had to be the one to take care of them and I gladly have for the past two years now.
But now, having done so much research into the cemetery and the people who are lying in there, to find this new connection to my very own grandfather is just beyond amazing to me. If ever there was a case for feeling echos from our ancestral past, this convinced it for me. When I first came to New York, I felt “home” but this was something far more than that. Stepping into that cemetery, it was overwhelming the feeling that I *had* to, that I *must* be the one to care for them. Now I know why. My grandfather held that land, my cousins lived on it, worked it and died on it. It is now my honor to care for them.