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Watertown Daily Times | History carved in stone

WEST MARTINSBURG — With a 21-gun salute — and a ceremony on Sunday full of thoughtful words — members of several local organizations joined the Martinsburg Historical Society to honor the dead.

“The town started working on the West Martinsburg cemetery and by 2011, we joined forces with the town to try and restore the cemetery,” said Bette Lathan of the historical society. “The cemetery had some funding, and we had some volunteers, so we started surveying the cemetery to see who was actually buried here.”

The group of volunteers researched the headstones, and combed through records and old newspapers, to unearth clues about the graves which were unmarked or unreadable.

“As the town was cleaning up the cemetery, it became apparent that we could not replace the headstones for all who were buried here. … We did some replacement stones if we knew the family, or if the deceased was military,” Ms. Lathan said. “We worked with Artisan Engraving in Sandy Creek, who specialize in restoration, to restore some of the stones as well as straightening and leveling those in existence.”

For those who are known to be buried in the cemetery — and who did not receive a new stone — their name is now carved in a large monument, paid for by the town.

Wreaths and flowers were placed near the new monument by members of the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution, U.S. Daughters of 1812, 1812 New York Militia, Sons of Civil War Veterans, Daughters of Union Veterans and the American Legion Post 162.

Kamra Rowland, Vice President of the New York State Society, United States Daughters of 1812, said, “it is the mission of the Daughters of 1812 to preserve and increase knowledge of the history of the American people.” She added, “it is a honor to support the work of The West Martinsburg Historical Society in celebrating this cemetery’s history. … We were proud to join Loretta Alexander and…

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