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Cemetery History

The first church building in Patchogue, a small poorly constructed building, stood at the Northeast corner of Main Street and Waverly Avenue. The Christian people of Patchogue purchased a lot on this corner for thirty shillings in 1791. Methodists, Baptists, Congregationalists and Presbyterians jointly built and used a meeting house here in 1794, each denomination using the building one-fourth of the time. In 1820 this building was replaced with a 33' x 39' professionally constructed 2-story meeting house, built by George Curtiss.

The cemeteries butted against the back of these meeting houses covering an area approximately 600' x 600'. The first burials, as far as can be determined, date back to 1794. These cemeteries had been neglected in the last decades and partially overgrown with trees and bushes. The sporadic clean-ups were ineffective because the intervals between the irregular clean-ups were spaced too far apart. Over the last ten years, much progress has been made, due to scheduled maintenance and Suffolk County Grants. The cemeteries now look presentable, but more work has to be done.

Cemeteries present an important part of our history. They are literally history written in stone, especially the older headstones from the 1800's. They contain much information about the person buried: The dates of birth and death, the exact age in years, months and days, his family members and sometimes, the reason for death.

The Waverly Avenue Cemeteries contain the graves of twenty-four Revolutionary War Veterans, two veterans of the War of 1812, twenty-two veterans of the Civil War, fourteen veterans of World War I, five veterans of World War II and one veteran of the Vietnam War.

Some of the older headstones have disappeared or deteriorated and the burial site cannot be determined. Since many of the Patchogue men made a living from the sea, there are quite a few headstones that list the cause of death as drowning.

Several headstones of the 1800's record family tragedies where three or four children in the same family died within a few days or weeks, apparently from the same epidemic. The good old days were not as fast paced as today, but a sickness, which can be cured with today's medicine, proved many times fatal. Tabulating the data from these headstones gives a person interested in history a partial insight of life in the past.

The Union, Gerard, Rice and Old Episcopal Cemeteries contain close to 900 headstones.

The Lakeview Cemetery

The Lakeview Cemetery located on Main Street next to the former site of the Lace Mill, was donated to the Episcopal Church by Ruth Newey Smith, one of the four Smith sisters of Patchogue 100 years ago.

A Large plot contains the graves of the Smith family. Four large 20 foot high memorial columns dominate the center of this plot. A center driveway, flanked by concrete sidewalks, circles the large monument on the North end of the cemetery. This monument was erected by Ruth Newey Smith in 1909, in memory of her mother, father and three sisters. This monument is 22 feet tall and weighs approximately five tons. Four life size statues on the capstone represent Faith, Hope, Charity and Liberty. This monument contains a genealogical history of the Smith Family from 1641 to 1909 in three thousand words consisting of eighteen thousand letters. Each one being an inch square. In 1909 the cost of this monument was $5,000.00. Another small statue stands on the front part of the cemetery near Main Street.

Notable among the three hundred headstones in this cemetery are the stones of five drowned sailors of the schooner "Nahum Chapin", which was stranded off Quogue on January 21, 1897, and eight headstones of the sailors of the schooner "Louis V. Place" which was stranded off Lone Hill on February 8, 1895. Only four of the "Louis V. Place" sailors are buried here, although all eight received a headstone. Augusta Weeks, one of the four Smith sisters, donated the burial plots and covered the expenses for the sailors' burials.

Elizabeth Oakes Smith, a nationally well know lecturer, reformer and poetess in the 1800's, lies buried on the East side of the cemetery alongside her husband Sebah Smith, who was well known in literary circles and published his writings under the name of "Major Jack Downing". They are buried on the site of their former home in Patchogue, "The Willows", which is now part of the cemetery.

 
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Cemetery Restoration Committee of Patchogue
Restoring the Pastů For the Future!TM

Email: info@Patchogue.com
Mailing Address:
Greater Patchogue Foundation, Attn: Cemetery Restoration Committee, 15 North Ocean Avenue, Patchogue, NY 11772
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Copyright 2006 - Present, Cemetery Restoration Committee All rights reserved