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Soldiers Memorial Brockport
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member monkeykat
N 43° 12.484 W 077° 55.119
18T E 262903 N 4788057
Quick Description: This monument to war veterans is a fifty-two foot sandstone tower known as the "Soldier's Monument." It stands in the center of an abandoned Rural Cemetery, in Brockport NY.
Location: New York, United States
Date Posted: 10/18/2006 9:08:09 PM
Waymark Code: WMVP0
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member frivlas
Views: 100

Long Description:

Excerpts from the Town of Sweden Sesqui-centennial Booklet - 1964

One of the most unusual and certainly the most neglected monuments to our war veterans is the fifty-two foot sandstone tower known as the "Soldier's Monument." It stands in the center of an abandoned Rural Cemetery, just east of the new Owens Road in the Town of Sweden.

In 1882, the Brockport Rural Cemetery association was organized and incorporated as a burial ground primarily for veterans of the Civil War, who were beginning to "fade away" in increasing numbers. It was envisioned that this site might become something of a local Arlington with its more than twenty-three acres on a high knoll overlooking the village. A campaign was spear-headed by Horatio M. Beach, diplomat and publisher of the Republic, who conceived of the idea of an appropriate monument.

A special association was formed with representatives of the Cady Post, G.A.R., and work progressed under the supervision of Edgar A. Maynard. The stone was brought from Hulberton and the contract for drawing it was let to W. L. Conklin. Mason work was done by William Stevens and the interior iron work by the D.A. Morgan & Company. The dedication on September 1, 1893, was one of the grandest affairs ever staged in Brockport with several bands, entertainment of guests, orations and exhibition drills. In response to his introduction to the assembled audience, Mr. Beach reported that the monument association "has been incorporated under the laws of the State, and by the gift of the cemetery association on whose grounds it (the monument) stands has now a title to the plot encircled by the iron railing, and is made custodian of the land immediately south of it to the two avenues, for the free interment of all loyal soldiers who have died or may die in Brockport or the towns of the vicinity." A plaque was fastened on the wall just inside the door with the names of the association members.

When it was first erected the monument was a major attraction. The New York Central featured it in their travel guide over the Niagara Falls Road, entitled "Health and Pleasure on America's Greatest Railroad" - 1895. Thousands climbed the circular stairway for views of the countryside. The picture on this page (not available - the picture is from 1995) has been reproduced from the railroad bulletin and shows the monument with flag unfurled and surrounded by the iron fence.

Mr. Beach's death occurred on Sept. 21, 1898, and all incentive to complete the project went with him. Lightening set fire to the observation platform, the elements rusted away the iron spiral stairway, the plaque disappeared, the mortar around the battlements began to crumble. The stonework is so well built, however, that it may be another century before the old tower vanishes, sparing vandals or human wreckers.

A grass fire swept through the cemetery and destroyed both the chapel and the caretaker's cottage, before firemen from the village could save them. The cemetery vault also was destroyed.

Many lots were sold and there were numerous interments before the association became dormant and the grounds neglected. Thereafter, families sold their deeds and arranged the removal of bodies to other cemeteries, including Lake View which had just been developed. The remains of only three civil war veterans are believed to be on the premisies: Daniel Castleman, John Ogden and Michael England, although there may be others.

In 1954 there were complaints about the hazards of the crumbling tower, and a a hearing was conducted by the Town Board. They asked that some patriotic group come forward with a plan of restoration, but there was little response.

In 1960 the issue again became paramount when the Owens-Illinois plant was erected, and desired a five-acre parcel of the old cemetery land. To meet legal requirements, the old Rural Cemetery Association was reactivated and the desired land conveyed with the assurance that this section did not have and never did have any graves upon it.

The tower was designed by Brooklyn architect Clarence Birdsall, who designed several monuments at Gettysburg. Sandstone for the tower was delivered by barge down the nearby Erie Canal. The window bars, doors and window hardware and interior circular stairway were made of iron provided by the Morgan foundry of Brockport.

The Soldiers' Memorial Tower Committee was formed to restore and preserve the tower, and to develop the surrounding 17 acres for community use. The tower has been listed in the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places, and acknowledged by the Town of Sweden as a historic site. In 1994, a celebration was held to mark the 100th anniversary, and to rededicate the tower to ALL veterans.

Type of Memorial: Non-Specific Memorial

In Honor Of: Soldiers Memorial Tower, A.D. 1894

Date of dedication: September 1, 1893

Who Put it Here?: Horatio M. Beach

Description of Memorial:
The tower is located about 1000 feet west of Owens Road in the Town of Sweeden just west of Brockport, NY. It can be found in an abandoned rural cemetery which is now a big grassy field with various trees. No parking, just pull off the side of the road after the railroad tracks.

Wars mentioned (Multi-war only): Not listed

Marker Text: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
Visited Logs must contain, at least, a picture of the monument and your GPSr. Preferably YOU at the monument with your GPSr, but we understand that some people are camera-shy.
It is suggested you please include something about your visit here, as well.
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