I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it before but my teenage years were spent living above a funeral home in my home town of Ashville, Ohio. It’s true. My parents divorced and I spent my entire high school years living above the funeral home where my mom rented the apartment upstairs from her friend and boss, the funeral director. He’d recently bought a house for his growing family and as ours had just “shrunk”, we were offered their old apartment over the funeral home. I can definitely say that my viewpoint of death was altered from those years. If I had to put a word on it… I think I “revere” it more now and that’s probably why I delve into genealogy like I do. I want to learn their stories, what they did, who they were, who they loved…. it all matters. That’s what I took away from those funeral home years.
Today though… was so trying for me emotionally. I came looking for Captain Ebeneezer Woodhull, who was commissioned in January 1776 as adjutant of a regiment of Minute Men and in May 1776, he was made captain of Light Horse Troop, Cornwall Precinct Regiment here from Orange County. He, his wife and children are buried here on the corner of two back roads and if you blink, you’d probably miss it and drive right on by. My GPS wouldn’t even take me here a few weeks ago and I ended up on a 45 minute long goose chase through my county before giving up. Eventually, I somehow stumbled across the latitude and longitude of the location off some remote webpage and plugged it in and FINALLY found the cemetery today. (I’m telling you, I swear genealogical serendipity is at play, again.)
When we parked and walked over to it, the gate that was there was missing, it’s old locking mechanism hanging there as if someone had kicked it open and made off the gate itself. The black cast iron railings are half falling down and EVERY single one of these stone has had significant damage done to them or were so battered and worn they were unreadable altogether. Nearly all are cracked in half, one is propped up with a piece of railing pipe that someone had ripped off, others are laying against each other…. oh, the heartbreak. If I had to guess, someone came in and kicked down the stones. Perhaps another someone nice came along and tried to set them back up. I’m just guessing at best….
What’s worse – I found his wife but not him. I have positively NO idea where he was. No DAR markings or evidence of any war honors present for his service. Someone on Find a Grave said she took a date off his stone back in 1954 but there are no pictures of his stone.
I felt tears welling up inside me when I came across the somewhat hard-to-find Woodhull Cemetery in Orange County, NY today. I wasn’t tearing up because I had discovered something good or wondrous. I had to hold back my tears when I saw the sorry, sad state of their tiny cemetery. This is NOT what a Revolutionary War solider’s grave should look like. I just stood there – with no words. My heart just hurt, my spirit sunk. These Woodhulls here are my 1st cousins, like 7 times removed or something. We’re related but I don’t know much about them offhand. But when I saw the utter neglect and broken down stones, my poor soul just couldn’t take it and I was completely overwhelmed. They deserve better than this. Anyone would but these are MY relatives. The nation was built by men like him and this is far short of the honor and respect that I feel he (and all patriots) should be given.
This is an amazing bio provided on Woodhull Genealogy’s site about Captain Woodhull incurring the particular ire of a British spy who was intent on killing him….