Baker sophomore John Gerard, 15, shovels cement into the foundation for a memorial stone that will be erected at Hardscrabble Cemetery, as Brandon Hart, right, secures a board directing the cement.
Baldwinsville Brandon Hart has spearheaded a project at the once-forgotten Hardscrabble Cemetery.
The Eagle Scout candidate has raised money to purchase a memorial stone that will be erected and other necessary supplies through bottle fundraisers and organizing volunteers to assist with the many facets of the project, which included collecting vandalized headstones from a nearby wooded area.
“It’s all coming together a lot better than I expected,” Hart said as he and nearly two dozen volunteers worked through the rain this past Saturday.
According to Hart, the project is fulfilling not only because it helps him to earn his Eagle Scout status, a goal he has had since a young cub scout, but it also feels good to help the deceased who had long been forgotten.
“Thank you to everyone who has helped make this a reality,” Hart said.
Active from 1805 to 1862, the cemetery is the final resting place for 39 pioneers of the Baldwinsville area including War of 1812 veteran Josiah Parish. In the 1940s, the tombstones were removed and the land was then used as a cornfield until Lesley Voorhees brought the matter to the attention of the Van Buren Town board. In 2003, Jane McIntyre and Helen Page picked up where Voorhees had left off. The two women were onsite Saturday helping Hart and his crew.
“This is what I wanted to see,” McIntyre said of all the legwork she had put into restoring the cemetery.
“This is really a landmark,” Page added, noting that this was the first cemetery in Baldwinsville although it is popular belief that Riverview Cemetery is the first.
To learn more about the cemetery, check out a copy of “Through the Eyes and Heart of a Mother and Daughter, vol. 1” at the Baldwinsville Public Library, which documents the history of Hardscrabble Cemetery.
Volunteers were collecting stones like this one from a wooded area nearby. It is believed they were taken from the cemetery last century and tossed into the woods to make room for a cornfield.