Shedding light on a Civil War cemetery

Kyle Melick stands next to the gravesite of a Civil War veteran at the Glasco Community Ground cemetery (photo by Robert Ford)

History buffs love to uncover local treasures hidden in plain sight. For Kyle Melick, a 17-year-old senior at Saugerties High School, and a member of Boy Scout Troop 135 in Glasco, that little bit of fate or magic brought him together with Bob Chappelle of the American Legion Lamouree-Hackett Post 72.

Melick is going for his Eagle Scout Award. Chappelle, along with town of Saugerties historian Audrey Klinkenberg, is compiling a database of all Saugerties Civil War veterans.

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For his Eagle Scout project, Melick turned to the Glasco Community Ground cemetery, located just behind the Ricardi Elementary School. It was overgrown, and as Melick said, “badly neglected.” The earliest grave in the cemetery, home to 118 bodies, dates from 1828, with the last burial there in 1911. Most people don’t even know the cemetery is there. Being a history buff, Melick decided to take on the task of cleaning the cemetery up and erecting a sign for it.

One of the several interesting facts he learned was that the cemetery has no Italians. Most of the plots belong to old Dutch families, like the Whitakers and Schoonmakers, he said. Which is strange, given the fact that Glasco was heavily settled by Italians in the early 1800s, who immigrated to Saugerties to work in its many factories, including those that produced bricks.

And while there were no Italian names found on any of the graves, or listed on a tallying done in 1930 of burials there, Melick found a number of graves that showed the bodies buried there were Civil War veterans: Joseph Moe, Company G of New York’s 120th; George W. Mosher, Company I of the 80th; Edward Titter, Company F of the 156th; and Ezekiel H. Winters, Company G of the 120th.

Over the course of the year, Melick swapped info with Chappelle and Klinkenberg, their findings enriching both projects. Chappelle said that more than 1,000 young men from Saugerties served in the Union Army. The database aims to provide details about their lives.

And while Melick was learning about the role Saugerties played in the Civil War, he and his fellow scouts were cleaning out the burial ground. Melick had to juggle work in the graveyard with class work, where he’s an honors student.

“I’m very proud of Kyle,” said his mom, Liz, scoutmaster for Troop 135. “I’ve seen him grow and become a leader.”

Melick enlisted the assistance of Smith Hardware and Sue’s Restaurant for donations, and now he is working with a local woodworker to construct the sign that will go in front of the cemetery.

He ‘s vowed to keep up with the maintenance of the cemetery and to mark Memorial Day and Veterans Day each year by placing flags on the graves of those four Civil War veterans.

Those four, along with all the other veterans who have called and still call Saugerties home, will be honored this Sunday, Veterans Day, Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. at the American Legion Hall on John Street.

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