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Venerable cemetery gets TLC from volunteers

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    Contributed photo Volunteers clean gravestones at the Coxsackie Cemetery on Mansion Street.
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    Contributed photo Volunteers clean the gravestones at the Coxsackie Cemetery on Mansion Street on Tuesday.
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    Contributed photo The Coxsackie Cemetery on Mansion Street gets some TLC from residents.
July 11, 2018 11:32 pm

COXSACKIE — The Coxsackie Cemetery, on Mansion Street in the village, needs tender, loving care and a group of residents is providing it.

Coxsackie village leaders and the Village Historic Preservation Commission formed a committee to restore the 192-year-old historic final resting place where burials were halted in 1994, Greene County Historian David Dorpfeld said. U.S. Reps. Dorrance Kirtland and John Ely and Revolutionary War veteran Phillip Conine Jr. are buried there.

“This is our big project in Coxsackie,” Dorpfeld said.

A long-term goal for the committee includes getting the site on the National Register of Historic Places, Dorpfeld said, adding the cleanup effort is part of Coxsackie’s revitalization.

“It will be a source of village pride to get the cemetery looking nice,” he said. “This is one of the pieces that’s been overlooked and needs to be addressed.”

The cleanup of the cemetery is the brainchild of Historic Preservation Commission Chairwoman Betty Cure, who took the reins a year ago, Dorpfeld said.

“She recognized the dilapidated condition and what a terrible site it was,” he said. “She’s organized this whole thing to solicit funds, to solicit volunteers.”

An expert on cleaning gravestones assisted volunteers to clean some of the cemetery’s old marble stones, Dorpfeld said. Marble gravestones aren’t as durable as granite ones, he added.

“The white ones are marble; they just don’t hold up,” he said. “There are very few granite stones in there.”

The cemetery has been owned by the village since 1952. Much of the damage done to the stones is blamed on age, not vandalism, Dorpfeld said.

A fundraiser will be held at the cemetery Sept. 15. Re-enactors will dress in the garb of the historic figures buried there, Dorpfeld said.

“They’ll [visitors] take about a one-hour tour and meet these people, so to speak,” Dorpfeld said. “During the re-enactment some of those people will rise up and be appropriately costumed.”

Proceeds will go toward straightening gravestones and several thousand dollars has been raised, but the overall project is an expensive proposition, Dorpfeld said. The committee will seek volunteers to help with cleaning stones and restoring a wrought iron fence.

“A lot of that can be done through sweat equity” Dorpfeld said.

To reach reporter Daniel Zuckerman email or follow him on Twitter @DZuckerman_CGM.