LOWVILLE — A crowd gathered Saturday at the village’s oldest cemetery to celebrate the culmination of a five-year restoration effort and addition of a new historic marker.
“It recognizes the historical significance of the cemetery,” Lowville Town Historian Charlotte M. Beagle said during a dedication ceremony for the new sign, added through funding by the William G. Pomeroy Foundation.
Mrs. Beagle said the Old Lowville Cemetery off River and Jackson streets, also known as the Jackson Street Cemetery, is the final resting place for two Revolutionary War soldiers, four participants in the War of 1812, 11 from the Civil War and four ministers.
One of the Revolutionary War veterans, Isaac Perry, was credited for naming the Tug Hill Plateau, she said.
When driving his team of oxen near Turin, he reportedly told his oxen to “tug,” and the name eventually stuck.
Ela Collins, a past congressman and grandfather of President William Taft’s wife, is also buried in the historic cemetery, as are other notable early citizens of Lewis County, Mrs. Beagle said.
She credited Town Supervisor Randall A. Schell with suggesting the restoration effort here but joked that if she had know it would take five years, “I probably wouldn’t have ever started it.”
Mr. Schell, in turn, credited the town historian for her persistence in seeking out funding and volunteers to make the project a success.
Mrs. Beagle and other local officials over the past several years have done extensive work restoring gravestones and other aspects of the cemetery with the assistance of grant funding from the Northern New York Community Foundation’s George Davis Fund, cemetery restoration funding from the Maple Ridge Wind Farm that was administered through the Lewis County Historical Society and other sources.
Work has included removal of trees, installation of a new retaining wall along the River Street side, new sidewalks along both streets with financial assistance from the village’s sidewalk replacement program and resetting and cleaning of many of the more than 200 gravestones.
The cemetery within the past year has been included in the state and federal Registers of Historic Places.
James Durkish, representing state Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome, and local Civil War re-enactor Charles J. Bunke also spoke at Saturday’s ceremony, and a ceremonial firing squad from Fort Drum provided a 21-gun salute.