MAMARONECK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Piecing together history.
It’s a puzzle involving broken headstones and scattered memories. Now, volunteers have raised donations to restore the final resting place of a prominent Westchester County family, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported Thursday.
With shovels to dig and tools to scrape away layers of the past, the Delancey family burial ground in Mamaroneck is being reclaimed from decades of neglect and occasional vandalism.
“We have here three generations of people,” Peter Fellows of the Mamaroneck Historical Society said.
“We laid it here temporarily while we try to piece together other things found throughout the site,” a restoration worker added.
The cemetery was established by John Peter Delancey, who fought for the Brits in the Revolution. He was brokenhearted when he lost his daughter in 1806.
“She fell. She died. He buried her over there and that became the locus of his family burying ground,” Fellows explained.
The magnificent trees that made it a beautiful location for the Delanceys to create a burying ground make it a challenging place to do restoration work.
Roots have upset some headstones, while the passing years have made a marker for the dead a permanent part of a living object.
Experts hired by the restoration committee are using a 1902 photograph to guide their work.
“Put it back with a second piece and reset it in a way that it’ll be safe here for years to come,” Fellows said.
The graves all face east to catch the rising sun, for religious reasons.
“The deceased would be able to sit up and witness and participate in the second coming of Christ. That was the Christian belief at the time,” restoration expert Zach Studenroth said.
Edward Floyd Delancey was the last to be buried on the grounds, but there’s no headstone to mark the spot.
It’s one mystery the restoration team hopes to solve as it works to rescue this cemetery from the ravages of time.
The history buffs who raised money for the restoration said a big challenge will be finding an expert who can rebuild the border wall, using early 19th century techniques.