Cat Ridge Cemetery

An Open Letter to North Salem Residents:

What will your resting place look like in 100 years?  Will family be there to keep an eye on it?  Does perpetual care mean a broken or damaged headstone will be repaired?  Some North Salem residents who died at Harpers Ferry probably never expected their headstones to be broken and fallen like the soldiers who laid down their lives in the field.  Sadly, that is the case at Cat Ridge Cemetery.  Cat Ridge, now a local historic landmark, was long ago the burial ground next to the town’s first Baptist Church.

Cat Ridge is not unique.  All across New York State dedicated folks are doing something about the state of old burial grounds, the care of which has by default fallen into the hands of the public as churches disappeared and family plots became abandoned.  Maintaining the grounds and keeping our old resting places neat and tidy is one thing; repairing fallen and broken headstones or historic underground receiving vaults is another.  We know, we tried.  Sometimes you just have to hire the professionals.

Thanks to the leadership of town historian Susan Thompson and our Landmark & Historic Preservation Commission, a professional team of headstone restorers, a restoration architect and contractors was assembled to assess the cemetery and bring it back to the level of care that will make our community proud.

Not all the work was done by professionals.  Over 28 volunteers cleaned and uprighted headstones, hauled away debris, raked, shoveled and scrubbed.  They worked all last year.  The receiving vault was professionally analyzed and a contractor was engaged.  A special fund-raising effort by the Historical Society covered those costs.  Beyond the Gravestone was engaged to repair broken headstones.  Funds were secured to have them repaired.  The work is almost done.....


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