The Town of Woodstock will be celebrating Memorial Day as it has so many years in the past, with a parade full of townspeople and organizations who gather together to commemorate the sacrifices Woodstockers made when they were sent off to war (Noon, Monday, May 30, starting at the Woodstock Playhouse and marching up Mill Hill Road to Rock City Road, to the Woodstock Cemetery, for a memorial). Before parade participants and onlookers disperse, everyone will pay homage at the Woodstock Cemetery to all veterans who have selflessly given their lives defending our country.
The Tombstone (some call them monuments) Restoration Project was undertaken in recent years by the Town of Woodstock and Woodstock Cemetery Committee, which contracted with restoration expert Joe Ferrannini of Grave Stone Matters. Joe toiled tirelessly, restoring one monument after another, no matter the weather, from dawn till dusk. Dozens of monuments marking the remains of veterans, many of whom were killed in action, have been beautifully restored.
The Restoration Project, to my mind, is critically important to keeping our town’s history, understanding who the deceased were, who their family was and how they died, if possible. The tombstones of 21 of Woodstock’s war dead are now clearly marked, thanks to Joe’s work.
To this date, the vast preponderance of the veteran tombstones restored belong to those who served in the Civil War. This should come as no surprise, given that the population of the Union during the Civil War was approximately 20 million and by midway through the war, the size of Union forces surpassed a half million.
Information on some of the soldiers is incomplete. For example, we presently have no record to indicate whether most of them died in combat with the exception of Jacob Shultis, Conrad Ricks, and Jacob Clapper, who died defending a Union staging area at City Point, Virginia.
Thanks to the work of the Cemetery Committee, volunteers and Ferrannini, the monuments for the following veterans’ monuments are now clearly visible:
Christian Barnhart — Civil War
Frederick Clapper — Civil War
William Disch — Civil War
John George Happy — Revolutionary War
William Lewis — Civil War
Nathan T. McDaniel — Civil War
Solomon Peters — Civil War
Phillip Plimley — Civil War
Conrad Ricks — Civil War
Eugene Shultis — Second World War
Jacob Shultis — Civil War
John Smith — Civil War
Cornelius Steenburg — Civil War
W. L. Steiner — First World War
Beley Taylor — Civil War
Jeremiah Wentworth — Civil War
Rufus Runway Wilbur — Civil War
John Winters — Civil War
Curtis Wolven — Civil War
John Wolven — Civil War
John Yerry — Civil War
The restoration project was in part financed by a $206,000 state grant, funds allotted through the Abandoned Cemetery fund. Altogether 208 stones, including those belonging to the graves of non-veterans have been restored so far.
The Cemetery Committee is always looking for additional donations to continue our gravestone restoration project, with the hope that we will continue to “rediscover” the graves of more war veterans.
Interested donors can send their tax-deductible contributions to Town of Woodstock (please write “Cemetery” on the note line of your check.
In the meantime, as we enjoy the company of friends and family around the barbecue grill this Memorial Day weekend, let’s pause for a moment and remember those who gave their lives for our country.
Memorial Day Parade returns in Woodstock
Woodstock’s Memorial Day parade returns Monday, May 30 after the COVID-19 pandemic forced a two-year hiatus. The parade starts at noon and will proceed up Mill Hill Road to Rock City Road, where it will stop for a brief ceremony at Woodstock Cemetery.
After the ceremony, the parade will re-form and proceed onto Rock City Road and back onto Tinker Street, ending on Neher Street.
Units will assemble in the Woodstock Playhouse parking area beginning at 11 a.m.
Participation in the parade must be cleared by parade coordinator Kevin Verpent of American Legion Post 1026. Verpent can be contacted at 845-532-2775.