Poorhouse burial place begins new life in Newburgh

NEWBURGH: Volunteers yesterday took the first steps to restore a cemetery.

By Michael Randall

The Times Herald-Record

mrandall@th-record.com


Instead of cooling off from yesterday's heat, more than half a dozen volunteers trekked into the woods off Lake Street.

For three hours they clipped, chopped and sawed away at the saplings and brush that have overtaken the former Alms-House Cemetery in the past 30 to 50 years.

The cemetery was a burial place for some residents of the Newburgh City and Town Home and Infirmary, a poorhouse that operated from 1853 to around 1950.

The building was demolished in 1970. The cemetery remained, but was forgotten until a few years ago, when Newburgh Free Academy social studies teacher Steve Schuyler found it on a map in the city engineer's office and got others interested in restoring it.

Schuyler was there yesterday, along with NFA senior Franklin Lopez.

"It feels good being out here doing something for the community," Lopez said.

Bud Lent had a personal reason for volunteering. His mother lived the last years of her life at the infirmary, and while she was not buried in the cemetery, at least 147 others were.

They lie today in four rows of graves marked only by numbers.

"They shouldn't be forgotten," Lent said. "It's a crime to let something like this go."

There also is speculation that bodies from an African-American cemetery, on the site of what is now Broadway School, were removed and re-interred in the poorhouse cemetery when the school was built in the early 20th century.

New Windsor Historian Glenn Marshall also has taken an interest in the cemetery, which lies just north of the New Windsor town line. Research indicates burials took place at least through the 1940s, and some are probably veterans, he said.

A few families have told Marshall they believe they have relatives buried there, but the search to find records that will match names to the numbered gravestones has been unsuccessful.

But volunteers figure if there are lists of who sailed on the Mayflower and the Titanic, there are records somewhere of who is buried in this cemetery.

"We're going to keep going until we get them," Marshall said. The Times Herald-Record Sunday June 11, 2000


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