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A History of Gilead Burying Ground, as prepared by Ken Warnecke.

This document is the 1988 proposal for listing of Gilead burying-ground on the State and National Registers of Historic Places, researched and written by Ken Warnecke of Mahopac. To that end, he prepared a new listing of interments, categorized the various stones he found, and prepared a map of the cemetery.

Parenthetical notes refer to pages in Pelletreau's History of Putnam County, New York (1886) unless otherwise noted.

Gilead Cemetery is located one-and-one-half miles from the Putnam County Courthouse, and four-tenths of a mile from Seminary Hill Road on Mechanic Street, south of the hamlet of Carmel. To the north of the cemetery lies a 110-acre, undeveloped tract of former farmland. The land bordering on the easterly and southeasterly sides is wooded and also undeveloped. These tracts of land are privately owned. The western side is bounded by a private home on 2.6 acres, while the southerly boundary borders Mechanic Street. The 72-foot sugar maple in the central-west end of Gilead Cemetery is submitted as one of the resources in this proposal. Likewise, the dry wall of cut fieldstones which completely surrounds the cemetery and varies between three and four feet in height, and between two and three feet in width, is considered one of the resources of Gilead Cemetery.

Gilead Cemetery is accessible from the street by a 60-foot long driveway with turnaround which parallels Mechanic Street. Ten feet from the driveway, visitors enter the old burying ground through two wrought iron gates, manufactured by the Anchor Post Iron Works of New York City and donated in 1914 by Ferdinand T. Hopkins. The gates pivot from two massive, mortared fieldstone pillars, which were probably constructed when the gates were donated. A bronze plaque unveiled on the right pillar by the Town of Carmel and the Daniel J. O'Brien Post 1374 of the V.F.W. in July 1976 lists names of supporters of the American Revolution.

To the left of the gateway is an alternate entry built into the wall -- a three-stepped "stile" -- for those who find the gateway closed or inconvenient for entry. The cemetery's east-west dimension is 340 feet inside the southern wall including the gateway. The 311-foot long northern dimension runs somewhat parallel to the southern wall, with the eastern wall being 98 feet long and the western wall being 157 feet along its inside face. Irregularities in the western wall suggest that the wall was constructed after the people nearest to it were interred, which dates that portion of the wall after 1830.

Although some portions of the stone wall have collapsed from frost upheaval or vandalism, most of its continuous length is in good condition, and apparently has not been moved or altered since it was repaired by Carmel contractor E. Fowler in 1914. Restoration of the stone wall continues, using the same mortarless techniques as the original construction. Gilead Cemetery is presently under the custody of the Town of Carmel and receives additional attention from volunteers associated with the Town of Carmel Historical Society.

Marking 310 plots are 299 headstones and 199 footstones, plus two monuments marking family plots in general. Distribution throughout the cemetery is random except where family members, such as those of Gregory, Belden, Shaw and McMahon, whose families are cordoned off, are buried in a group. Available stones indicate a total of 158 plots had been established prior to the removal of the Meeting House in 1839. Based on materials used for gravestones at Gilead, there are three periods to consider: from 1766 to 1808 the use of slate, red sandstone and fieldstone combined for a total of 70 markers (23%), from 1790 to 1929 the use of white marble for a total of 218 markers (73%), and from 1888 to 1959 the use of granite, for a total of 11 markers (4%). There are 12 different outlines of stones. The most prevalent style is the simple, square-cornered stone, such as was used on the Jeremiah/Rebecca Hughson gravestone, and is most common in the white marble. For other styles and frequency of use, refer to the Interments list and the Stone Identification Code. The monument to Enoch Crosby is one of the notable stones at Gilead Cemetery because of its great size and height, rising 11 feet above the ground, and having a square base in excess of 6 feet on a side. His brother-in-law, Solomon Hopkins, is remembered with a red sandstone marker with round top and round finials, typical of colonial style markers.

Most of the headstones face west with each available footstone placed east of the headstone. In the Belden family plot the westernmost row of stones faces east, being only 4 feet from the stone fence. In 1985, a 40-year-old wild cherry tree was removed at the base of the Amos Belden stone, and judging from the position of fragments found below ground, the stone originally faced west. For that reason this headstone was reset in the ground facing west. Other markers may be likewise reset if similar evidence suggests they should be.

Gilead Cemetery has undergone few changes aside from those resulting from periodic neglect since 1971 when the Gilead Cemetery Association ceased to exist. At one time a man named Amos Everett may have been buried there, because a white marble headstone in pieces bearing his name was found. This fragmented stone was not listed for the following reason: investigation at Raymond Hill Cemetery north of Carmel reveals an Everett family monument, surrounded by ground level headstones, one of which represents Amos Everett, with the same birth and death dates as the broken Gilead stone. It is surmised a descendant or relative of Amos Everett had the body removed to Raymond Hill to take advantage of the perpetual lawn care offered there. A similar situation exists for William Francis Vail, whose name is engraved on a family monument at Raymond Hill, but whose headstone and footstone are still in place in the ground at Gilead. To date, there is no evidence Edward Crosby, M.D. is not buried at Gilead. Also in the list is the Rev. Elnathan Gregory on whose grave, according to Pelletreau, a headstone was never placed (Pelletreau, p.311).

Over 58 white marble headstones and one carved fieldstones are, or have been, broken. Upper portions of some have been reset in the ground. A few have been replaced using cement on a marble base, while two have been replaced with a modern grave marker. The granite Enoch Crosby monument is an appropriate salute to the patriot, despite its overbearing, non-traditional design as replacement of his unadorned, white marble, three-lobed colonial gravestone seen in early photographs. The John Hazen granite headstone is a replacement for the original white marble, which matched the extant footstone.

The Gilead Cemetery is historically significant as an enduring, unaltered memorial that preserves strong associations with times from the mid-18th to early 20th centuries in the rural environment of Carmel, New York. Located in the Carmel hills, the cemetery has marked gravestones dating back to 1766, and was a principal burying ground to the community throughout the nineteenth century. One of Carmel's early churches was established here in the mid-1700s and many of its parishioners as well as other important early Carmel citizens are buried on this site. Gilead Cemetery retains a high degree of physical integrity; its simplicity contrasts the intensive suburban development now going on in this area of Putnam County. It is also historically significant for its association with the American Revolution, particularly as the final resting place of Enoch Crosby, the well-documented American soldier/spy whose life experiences were the basis for the central character Harvey Birch in James Fenimore Cooper's The Spy. Many other American Revolutionary War veterans are laid to rest here. Also, the cemetery is significant as a display of colonial sandstone, fieldstone and slate grave markers bearing carvings representative of the 1660 to 1810 American gravestone-cutting tradition. Along with Colonial cherub heads, the cemetery displays representative Neoclassical, Gothic, and Victorian-inspired grave marker decorations, with various marker styles reflecting changes in tradition and custom.

Farming was the predominant way of life in Carmel before the American Revolution. Since British noblemen controlled the lands, farmers leased the land on which they lived and worked. Putnam County, then known as the South Precinct of Dutchess County, was under the control of members of the Philipse family. After the war, these lands were sold by the Commissioners of Forfieture to the farmers. The site of Gilead Cemetery was originally a part of such a tenant farm, leased by Frederick Philipse to Enoch Crosby's father, Thomas Crosby in 1756. In 1766 the farm was then leased to James Dickenson, and in 1828 was sold to Elisha Cole by Frederick Philipse (p. 315).

Between 1756 and 1839 a meeting house 50 feet long and 50 feet wide was used by the parishioners of Gilead Church (p. 310). It stood on the west end of the burying ground and slightly north of the road. Exactly where it stood is unknown, but the open area inside the gate suggests the building stood there. William S. Pelletreau in his History of Putnam County states, "It is probable that the first burials here were soon after the building of the Gilead Church" (p. 315) and "The first direct mention of the meeting house at Gilead... is in the Survey of Lot 8 in 1762." Also, "...there can be no doubt that it was standing... in 1756." (p. 310)

Prior to 1774, the Gilead Church was Congregational, and communicated with the Old Congregational Church in Southeast and also with one near the Tilly Foster section of Carmel. The Southeast parish was referred to as the "Eastern Society" while the Tilly Foster and Gilead parishes were the "Western Society." (p. 306, 311). The first full-time minister at Gilead was a young Scotsman, the Rev. Ebenezer Knibloe. On February 18, 1756, he was petitioned by 57 parishioners including John Hains, John Frost, and Caleb Hazenthree who are buried at Gilead. After 3 years, his ministry was succeeded by the Rev. Elnathan Gregory (p. 309-310).

The pastorate of Elnathan Gregory lasted thirteen years. The Rev. Gregory is probably the character referred to in Barnum's The Spy Unmasked, p.26, as the "staunch Whig" minister who urged his followers not to celebrate the March 18, 1766 repeal of the Stamp Act, for the British Parliament subsequently declared an unlimited supremacy over the colonies. Because of his outspoken political views against British domination, a bounty was reportedly set on Gregory's life during the Revolution, though his pastorate had concluded before the war began. The title of one of his sermons, "Is there no balm in Gilead?" became the seed for the wide usage of "Gilead" around Carmel, including for the Gilead Presbyterian Church, and for Lake Gilead to the south of Gilead Cemetery (p. 311).

In 1774, the Rev. David Close became Gilead's first Presbyterian pastor, serving also the Presbyterian Church in Patterson, N.Y. He died in 1783 at an early age -- 40 years -- and lies buried in the Patterson Presbyterian churchyard.

The Rev. Blackleach Burritt was pastor after this, but little is known of his term of service, other than that from the war "he had been so greatly reduced in circumstances that (he was) commended to the benevolence of the Christian public" (p.311). Indeed, the church itself suffered the stress of the Revolution. It was reorganized in 1792 when a new covenant was drafted by 15 subscribers, 3 of whom are known interred at Gilead: John Merrick, Rebecca Hopkins and Elizabeth Merrick. The Rev. Ichabod Lewis was engaged as minister of both the Gilead and Southeast parishes until his death in 1793. Other ministers at Old Gilead Meeting House were:

Rev. James Hickox 1793-1800*
Mr. Silas Constant 1800-1801
Rev. Stephen Dodd 1803-1810*
Rev. Herman Daggett 1810-1812*
Rev. Allan Blair 1812-1815
Rev. James Austin 1815-1818
Rev. Abner Brundage 1818-1821
Mr. Isaac Allerton 1821-1824
Mr. Asahel Brunson 1824-1827
Mr. Benaiah Y. Morse 1829-1835
Mr. George T. Todd 1835-1844
[* also preached at Red Mills Presbyterian Church (p. 312-313).]

The Gilead Cemetery Association was established in 1914, and at its first meeting May 4, 1914, were elected: Ferdinand T. Hopkins, President; Ferd. T. Hopkins, Jr., Vice President; William C. Ewen, Treasurer; G.E. Reed, Secretary. Other members included Thomas T. Hill, William C. Ewen, Coleman R. Barrett and Stanley D. Cornish. The Association President, Mr. Hopkins, donated the Enoch Crosby monument in 1914. Weighing 17 tons, the monument represents the second such marker constructed, the first having been ruined by a fire at the quarry yards in Barre, Vermont. Earlier headstones for the "Spy" Enoch Crosby were damaged probably by souvenir hunters or other misfortunes of the post-Revolutionary War era.

According to the Association's financial statement, the entire north wall of the cemetery was reconstructed prior to May, 1914 by E. Fowler of Carmel at a cost of $198.38 (Putnam Courier, May 15, 1914). The Gilead Cemetery Association was discontinued in 1971.

Among over 300 plots, the earliest headstone is the slate marker of Sarah Smith (nee Higgins) who died in 1766. Its "tympanum", or upper face, is decorated with a frown-shaped half-moon, and semi-circular finials. Another slate marker, for Elenor, wife of Thatcher Hopkins, is dated March 24, 1786 and has a matching, round-topped footstone.

There are twenty-eight inscribed fieldstones at Gilead, and those which can be deciphered for date range between 1772 for John Hains to 1808 for Rebecca Colwell. The Caleb Hazen/Sarah Ham(b)lin and Eleazer Hazen stones have been smoothed and recarved, but at ground level below the new inscription on the Eleazer Hazen stone, a primitive poem remains as originally carved.

Red sandstone marks 10 plots at Gilead, showing dates between 1785 for Lois Beale, and 1805 for James Hervey Fowler. The one marking the Solomon Hopkins plot displays a winged cherub. Another, for Daniel Tillotson, displays a frowning death's head, possibly the work of a carver different from the one who carved the Solomon Hopkins stone.

White marble is the predominant medium for gravestones at Gilead Cemetery. The earliest dated marble stone is for Sarah Beale who died in 1790, while the latest marble stone marks the grave of Isabella F. Belden who died in 1929.

By 1950, the year of the last interment at Gilead, granite had become a widely-used medium for gravestones. Thus, the remainder of the markers here are of granite, including the modern replacement of earlier markers, such as for John Hazen who died in 1813, and Enoch Crosby who died in 1835. Early photographs show that Enoch Crosby's original headstone was marble, and since John Hazen's footstone is marble, his headstone probably was also marble.

Summary of Gravemarkers by Material and Period of Use:
Slate - 2 ( 1%) 1766-1786
Fieldstone - 58 (19%) 1772-1808 (combines carved and uncarved stones)
Red sandstone - 10 ( 3%) 1785-1805
White marble - 218 (73%) 1790-1929
Granite - 11 (4%) 1888-1959

During the earliest period of 1766 to 1808, the uses of the 2 slate, 28 fieldstone and 10 sandstone markers are concurrent, and the outline of these markers is generally round-topped with round finials. Attempts were made in some cases by the early carvers of the inscribed fieldstones to imitate this style, but generally the fieldstone headstones were round-topped and sometimes keystone-shaped similar to style #4 indicated on the list of names. White marble is represented in the remaining period of significance of Gilead Cemetery (overlapping the period of the aformentioned stone types) until 1929. Beginning in 1888 is the granite period, which continues to 1959. The most prevalent design used in the decoration of the white marble stones is the urn and willow motif, and of marble markers decorated, this motif is used 52 out ouf 67 times, or 78 percent. A total of 11 distinctly different outlines are used among the marble headstones. Little documented evidence has been obtained regarding the carvers of the stones, particularly the slate and red sandstone markers. One white marble stone, Mehetable Frost, is marked at the lower back portion with "Atwill, Peekskill."

All of the red sandstone markers and slate markers are of colonial style and are in good condition, except for those of Elizabeth Hopkins and Huldah Foster. The inscriptions of these two are threatened by "defoliation", a common malady among early red sandstone markers in which the internal laminations of the stone separate and gradually diverge due to cyclical freezing and thawing of absorbed moisture through the resulting hairline cracks. Indoor display of these two at the Carmel Historical Center has been recommended to the custodians of Gilead Cemetery, using durable replicas as on-site replacements. The slate Sarah Smith stone is thin at the upper portion, and has lost part of one finial, but the complete inscription remains.

Evidence at Gilead Cemetery and investigation at other cemeteries indicate Gilead may be the third oldest cemetery in Putnam County, with Old Southeast (the Sears burying-ground) the oldest and Ellis Cemetery at the Carmel/Southeast town line as second oldest. Gilead is a rare example of a burying ground unchanged but for additional burials, spanning a period of over 220 years. Since Old Southeast Cemetery remains "active" (where burials continue to take place), only Ellis is an older, inactive cemetery, with gravestones dating back to 1758. Gilead was active from 1766 or earlier until 1959. Interments declined after establishment of the interdenominational Raymond Hill Cemetery north of Carmel late in the 19th Century. The Gilead Presbyterian Church stopped holding meetings at the cemetery site about 1836, in preference to a new church at its present location on Seminary Hill Road, and the old meeting house was dismantled and sold to Patterson resident Peter S. Kent in 1839 (p. 310).

Gilead Cemetery has historical significance in that it played an important part in the formative years of Enoch Crosby, and in relation to the religious/social life of early Carmel. The Congregational church established here in 1745 was a sister church to what is now the Old Southeast Church (Route 22, north of Brewster, NY), and the churches often shared ministers as well as political views. Early American church life played an important role throughout the colonies as well as Carmel in uniting Americans desiring independence.

The artistic significance of Gilead Cemetery is displayed in its colonial style red sandstone and slate stone markers. The cherub on Solomon Hopkins' stone, and the frowning countenance on Daniel Tillotson's with the popular verse of this period ...

Remember this as you pass by,
As you are now, so once was I.
As I am now so you must be,
Prepare to die and follow me.

.....exhibit a style of carving not often found in grave markers past the period c.1800-1810 in any stone medium. Such style was typical of the 18th Century, and is also exemplified in the slate markers of Sarah Smith and Elenor Hopkins. The artistic significance carries over from this period into the "marble age", which includes a Gothic influence in the simple round-topped marble stones generally having no decorative carving. Floral carvings bordering an oval on which is carved the decedent's record suggests a Victorian style (see Seth Foster stone). Neoclassical influences are recognized with the popular use of the urn and [weeping] willow motif found on square-topped markers.

Unlike the earlier colonial style which employed the use of capital and lower case thin Roman lettering in the inscriptions, often with the typical elongated "s" resembling an "f", the 19th century marble stones show a more regimented, controlled style of carved lettering. Horizontal lines are straighter, and each letter of the alphabet has uniformity wherever used, and however often used. "In Memory Of (name} who died (date) aged (in years, months and days)" is a typical inscription in this period. "In" is on the top by itself, in large script style. "Memory Of" is usually in Roman style on the next line, and occasionally carved in script. The decedent's name may be in boldface Roman carved in low relief or in less-often-used capital and lower-cased script. The remaining inscription may be carved in script with abbreviations for years, months and days.

Inscribed fieldstone markers were taken from the "field", hence the name, and possibly carved by a member of the decedent's family. In this context, "fieldstone" may mean one of several suitable minerals, but all examples of fieldstone grave markers are typically characterized by a roughcut, asymmetrical profile, relatively flat face, and crudely carved inscription with words sometimes misspelled. This invariably adds character to the cemetery and provides a decipherable puzzle for the curious visitor. The inscribed fieldstone becomes a form of early American folk art, and close examination of the style of carving may give clues as to how the carving was performed, what tools were used and certain limitations realized by the carver such as space requirements on the stone, his limited spelling skills, etc. (see Joseph Colwell stone).

The use of fieldstones as markers in a ruraal cemetery such as Gilead is not uncommon. American farmers in the post-Revolutionary War years suffered from the economic drain of the war. For this reason, a local farmer may have decided to remember his deceased loved one with an inexpensive, but no less respectful, headstone. 79%, or 22 of the carved fieldstones here, were used in the 27 years after the Revolution. Possibly many of the 30 uncarved fieldstones were placed during this time. This could have been an indication of those lean post-war economic conditions.

The Enoch Crosby monument most prominently represents the artistic significance of Gilead Cemetery with respect to the use of granite. The high-relief carving of crossed musket and sword with laurel wreath at the cap of the monument, representing widely-used techniques of 20th-century funerary art contrasts with the simple, free-handed carving of the colonial stones. The technique is continued to the base on which is styistically carved "CROSBY".

In conclusion, Gilead Cemetery is an enduring site of historical significance to not only the Town of Carmel, the County of Putnam, and the State of New York, but also to the United States. Few cemeteries can boast of having a range of grave marker styles which spans the nation's history. It behooves us to show continued interest in maintaining the physical integrity of Gilead Cemetery, so that generations to come may benefit from it as an open-air museum representing Carmel's rural past. The term "embattled farmers" immortalized by Ralph Waldo Emerson in his Concord Hymn might also apply to the Carmel farmers who took up arms in pursuit of freedom, and those whose lives are remembered here at Gilead Cemetery, not the least of whom is Enoch Crosby -- Revolutionary War soldier, patriot spy, and public servant.

G.K. Warnecke

Update notes:

The stone walls of Gilead were again restored c.1998, with funding provided to the Historical Society by Ferdinand T. Hopkins IV.

Contrary to Pelletreau, a history of the Gilead Church suggests that Rev. Elnathan Gregory will not be found buried at Gilead. "His grave, unmarked by any stone, is in a field west of the present residence of Lewis Baker, together with that of his daughter and her husband." (Baker, p.6.) That site is south of Carmel hamlet, where the Gregorys later lived. His death is placed in 1816, in his 82nd year; Pelletreau is unclear, citing ages of 82 and 90 (pp. 311, 393).

Rather than replace the endangered red sandstone markers of Elizabeth Hopkins and Huldah Foster, they are now covered during the winter months with portable wooden housings with glass fronts, constructed by Ken Warnecke, who remains active in the preservation of the cemetery.

The Tillotson inscription, in various forms, had appeared on graves in Britain and North America for over 400 years. The apparent source is the 1376 Canterbury grave of Edward, the Black Prince, whose inscription reads:

Such as thou art, so once was I
As I am now, so shalt you be.

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