Sparkill Cemetery Coulda Been A Contender

Dated: 03/16/2014

Views: 2726

  One of my favorite roads in Rockland County is Kings Highway, which in part runs between Orangeburg, Sparkill and Tappan.  Originally known as the King's Highway, it lost the "the" and the apostrophe somewhere in the dim past.  It has kept, however, the original colonial route, which means that it twists and turns with the lie of the land, and is therefore very nice for a drive in my old sports car, or my wife's Mini, when she lets me use it. In the Sparkill section you will find the Rockland Cemetery, which has an interesting background.  It was begun in 1847 by Elieazer Lord, who was the president of the Erie Railroad.  At that time, Piermont, formerly known as Tappan Landing or Tappan Slote, was the terminus of the railroad, and Lord had big plans for Piermont, a name that he made up himself.  As part of his vision, he established the cemetery with an eye for it to be the final resting place for prominent Americans- basically a national cemetery.  So why is it so little known?  Because during the Civil War, the Federal forces almost immediately crossed the Potomac River into Arlington, Virginia, and took control of the plantation belonging to Robert E. Lee.  Essentially in revenge for what they saw as his betrayal of the U.S. Army, the Union army began burying its many dead soldiers on his property, which in turn became the Arlington National Cemetery.  Rockland Cemetery became a quiet backwater.  The only notable American buried there is John C. Fremont, who died in New York city in 1890.  His rather grand obelisk sits at the top of the cemetery, with a magnificent view of the Hudson below.  It's worth a drive, if you're in the neighborhood.
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Thano Schoppel

I have been a resident of Tappan for forty years, and still live in the 1860 Italianate Victorian house my wife Jean and I bought all those years ago. I have always been active in the community, inclu....

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