Why Are Headstones Scattered Along A New York Highway
Straight off the pages, you have to see it to believe it. I recently made a trip to East Fishkill / Stormville area to visit the Wright Burial Ground and like everyone else, I was left with more questions than answers.
I was first made aware of this little family plot which is known as the Wright Burial Ground alongside Route 52 in East Fishkill by social media. The questions people asked and the comments that were made in the post resulted in me having to find out more.
Cemetery Along Route 52 in East Fishkill, NY
When I started out to find the Wright Burial Ground that was reported to be in plain sight along the side of Route 52 in Stormville, NY, I thought, 'I was just there a few days ago. How did I drive right by it?' Turns out, I did because when you are heading west it isn't as visible as it is from the eastbound lanes.
Who is Buried in the Wright Burial Ground in Stormville, NY
According to a Find A Grave entry, the burial ground belongs to a family named Wright. It is no longer clear how many people may have been buried there, but the post says that supposedly a record of who is thought to be interred there is in the Hopewell Reform Church Marriage Book.
Who is Responsible for the Care of a Cemetery in New York?
At first glance, you might ask how a cemetery gets so forgotten, and shouldn't it be looked after more carefully? After all, it is not unusual to see a small family graveyard on the side of the road in New York. It is actually quite common. You might also often see an old town or village graveyard at a crossroads on some of our Hudson Valley Backroads.
So who is responsible for their care? Turns out in this case, really no one is. And no, it is not a New York State issue either even though it appears to be on their property. While searching 'care for New York cemeteries,' I came across a frequently asked question list that clears up a lot of misunderstandings about cemeteries and burials in New York State. Including why they are most likely not responsible for the Wright Burial Ground's care. See the answer below.
No, the Division of Cemeteries and the New York State Cemetery Board regulate only those cemeteries that are incorporated under the Not-for-Profit Corporation Law. Cemeteries that do not fall under our jurisdiction include religious, municipal, private,national and family cemeteries. (via dos.ny.gov)
New York State is currently responsible for approximately 1700 not-for-profit burial grounds.
Can East Fishkill, NY Fix the Wright Cemetery?
Naturally, finding a cemetery in this condition is very unsettling. That was the reason for the initial social media post. There were comments made that it has been in disrepair for years. Most everyone felt it should be cared for somehow. One post even went so far as to say someone reached out to the number on the sign nailed to a tree on the grounds and they were told you would need a permit and insurance. One person did suggest Boy Scouts might be able to help apparently they have done projects like this in the past.
Some comments were made that the utility workers and highway crews clearing bush may have been reckless but from what I saw if anything they were most likely the folks who lead up the broken stones. The stones may be down and the trees and bush might be cut but the ground was undisturbed.