Skaneateles The Skaneateles Town Board and the Shepard Settlement Neighborhood Association teamed up to celebrate Labor Day by dedicating Shepard Settlement Cemetery as a newly-minted National Historic Cemetery.
Shepard Settlement, a hamlet within the town of Skaneateles, was established in 1794 by John Shepard, a settler from Massachusetts. His grandson, Irwin Shepard, won a Congressional Medal of Honor for his bravery as a Union soldier in the Civil War, and is buried in the cemetery.
The historic cemetery, on the north/west side of Stump and Foster roads, was established in the early 1800s and is the final resting place of the Shepard family, local residents and many Civil War soldiers.
“We are here to celebrate a national holiday and recognize the key public space in the Shepard Settlement area,” said Ken Scott, a member of the Shepard Neighborhood Association, at the Sept. 3 dedication ceremony during which the metal plaque stating the cemetery’s historical significance was officially installed. “This is a terrific opportunity to put us on the national map. It’s a public holiday and a Skaneateles celebration.”
The Labor Day ceremony was the culmination of a nearly two-year effort to gain historical recognition for the cemetery.
In early 2011, members of the Shepard Settlement Neighborhood Association asked the town board to approve the plaque and apply for the historic designation from the state. It was 18 months before an agreement from both the state and federal governments was received.
The total cost for the plaque was $1,200, paid for by both the SSNA and the town board, said John Rehme, SSNA member.
However, the town board was not the only major contributor to the special dedication.
According to Skaneateles Town Historian Beth Batlle, Rural Home Cemetery Association of Shepard Settlement maintained the cemetery until the Town of Skaneateles took over in 1973. An additional acre of land was donated to the cemetery by local residents William and Barbara Schneider in 1992.