‘Pick up a rake, a shovel or a check book’

Goshen. Efforts underway to restore the Case Family Burial Grounds on Sarah Wells Trail in the Town of Goshen.

Goshen /
23 Jun 2020 | 08:33

The Case Family Burial Grounds on Sarah Wells Trail in the Town of Goshen is looking better since receiving some TLC from Village Historian Edward Connor.

The last time neighbors recall the cemetery getting a cleanup was about 20-years ago when the Boy Scouts worked there.

Goshen residents Debra Corr and Sandra M. Rothenberg contacted the historian regarding upgrading the overgrown cemetery.

Always interested in Goshen and its history, Connor volunteered to do the cleanup himself.

At the quarter-acre site, Connor worked for two-weeks raking brush, removing branches from trees and painting the surrounding wooden fence, which he called “fragile” and needed propping.

“It looks beautiful,” said Rothenberger. “It looks like a real cemetery - it can be seen from the road now. It’s a head turner.”

Rothenberger, who works at Corr’s real estate office, Exclusively Equine on Sarah Wells Trail, noticed the cemetery in disrepair, even with fallen trees, when she went to work each day. That’s when she approached the village historian.

The story begins May 10, 1761

Presently, headstones do not represent all of those buried at the Case cemetery, and most stones are difficult to read. Daniel Case designated the plot of land as a burial site in his will, dated Sept. 3, 1760, and probated May 10, 1761.

Records show that Sarah Case, who died in 1795 at age 66, is the first to be buried there, and Julia, the wife of Daniel Case’s son, was the last burial at almost age 85 in 1872.

According to records, 34 burials took place from 1795 until 1872, which includes predominately Case family members; however, other names include Anderson, McCoy, McEwan, McVey, Horton, Slaight, Belnap, Carpenter and Gowers. Some are extended Case family members and at least 12 are children under the age of 15.

More burials than the headstones indicate

Connor noted that all tombstones face the street and most include head and footstones. “There definitely are more burials here than headstones show,” said Connor, pointing to sunken areas of ground indicating burial plots.

Two large dead trees on the property concern Corr and Rothenberger who fear if they come down, more gravestones could be lost or ruined. Receiving a $1,200 quote from a tree service to remove the trees, they promptly sent letters to Sarah Wells Trail residents seeking support toward funding for their removal. Several donations have already come in.

“I can’t thank them enough for restoring dignity and respect for the people buried there — their eternal resting place,” said Town of Goshen Councilman Ken Newbold. “It looks beautiful.”

“This is clean now — this is wonderful,” neighbor Trudy Graham commented. Graham has lived in one of the original Case homes on Sarah Wells Trail for 45-years.

‘Pick up a rake, a shovel or a check book’

Town of Goshen Supervisor Doug Bloomfield recalled that not too long ago, when residents brought it to his attention that Slate Hill Cemetery had run out of perpetual care funds, he assembled a committee of volunteers to work on re-establishing maintenance funds. The committee set to work raising funds by contacting people who had family members buried there or knew someone there, asking for their support.

Through this and other ways, the group reestablished perpetual care, like lawn mowing, for the cemetery.

He noted there are people willing to help, such as Boy Scouts, who often are looking for projects, or civic organizations or private individuals.

“I’m impressed with what’s been done here—with everyone having ultimate respect for cemeteries, maybe others will continue with other cemeteries,” said Newbold, suggesting, “Pick up a rake, a shovel or a check book.”

Connor said future work is planned for the Case Family Burial Grounds to reset the headstones in upright positions and clean them, hoping to reveal inscriptions. If money is left after bringing down the trees, he suggests putting it toward a new fence.

To contribute to the restoration fund, call Exclusively Equine at 845-294-4224.