Purdytown Cemetery was re-dedicated Saturday morning, Oct. 12. This graveyard off Lake Shore Drive in Paupack Township, Wayne County, is especially historic in two ways. Two of the graves belong to Revolutionary War veterans who were early settlers here, and the whole graveyard was moved in the 1920's to escape the waters of Wallenpaupack when the power company was building the lake.
Containing 53 graves- at least 28 that of children or infants- the rough stones in their neat rows were left to the elements for decades. A pine forest overtook the cemetery in the ensuing 85 years.
PPL presented the deed for the cemetery to Wallenpaupack Historical Society (WHS) in 2010. It has taken three years for the Society volunteers to restore the resting place for these pioneer families, whose original interments date at least from 1810 through 1843.
The WHS held a ceremony Saturday, with the aid of the Wayne Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). Rev. Douglas Rhine, Blooming Grove Baptist Church, offered remarks and a prayer. Girl Scouts from Troop 299 and Junior Troop 50730 served as Color Guard, carrying flags.
Andy Anderson, one of the project volunteers, performed an original song, a ballad to the Purdytown Cemetery.
A large sign was unveiled.
A committee was organized, which at first included only Bob Ammon who was chairman, and Richard Briden. Many people contributed money, talent, land and "lots of advice," said Briden in opening remarks.
The first job was to have the large pine trees removed. Ammon and Briden ground stumps, reset stones, set gravel and placed ground cover barriers. Wood chips were laid down. Trees left near the road were pruned.
Lastly, a stone wall was to be built around the 70 by 76 foot site. Five more volunteers came aboard. Together, they became known as the "Stonewall Stackers." Starting this past spring, they met once a week to lay stones. They included Richard Briden, Andy Anderson, Brian Behonick, Tom Bouchery, Bob Ammon, Bob Essex and Earl Mege.
Neighbors across the road owned a "C"- shaped parcel around the graveyard; Mr. and Mrs. George Canova graciously donated this piece to the WHS.
The cemetery was originally established on private land what is now under the lake, just off the beach of the Sandy Shore development, under a mile from where the Purdytown Cemetery was moved. Jon Tandy discussed the history of the cemetery.
Richard Teeter, an undertaker from Hawley, was in the audience; his great uncle George Teeter oversaw the relocation of these graves in 1924.
Bob Ammon offered reflections on what life was like in the pioneer days in what is now the Wallenpaupack valley, with hardships of survival carving a settlement out of the wilderness coupled with fresh memories of attacks from the Indians as well as the strife of the Revolutionary War.
Page 2 of 2 - Although squatters, these early pioneers helped build the nation in their own way. Taming the land for farming, eventually enough food would be raised and sold , enabling others not to have spend all their time looking for food to stay alive. Towns could grow and prosper into cities.
"They were brave people but probably didn't know it,' Ammon said. He added that if they were transported to the 21st Century they would surely be terrified, but no more than if we went back to their time.
Buried here are Silas Purdy, 1744-1814 and William Purdy, 1749-1824, both who served in the Revolution on the side of American Independence.
DAR Past Regent Barbara Gropper brought greetings; Kaerlyn Shedlowski, for the DAR, offered what has been learned about the Silas and William Purdy. Silas came from Ulster County, NY; William was from Fairfield, CT. How they may have been related is not known, but both served in the Fourth Regiment; Silas lived in Marlboro, NY; William in New Marlboro. Both came to the Wallenpaupack Valley.
Silas operated a mill here; William was an intenerent Baptist preacher and elder.
They are both buried here, with their wives. Both had 11 children.
Shedlowski asked the crowd to ponder about these two men, who did their part in a very large cause to make this country what it is today.
Pastor Rhine likened the re-dedication of this cemetery to the story in the Gospel of John about Lazarus. These bodies were buried twice; so was that of Lazarus. The first time around, Jesus Christ raised him from the grave. Like Lazarus, the minister said, at least some of those buried at Purdytown had the "glorious hope" in the ultimate resurrection in eternal life. "The grave is not the end," Pastor Rhine said.
Accompanied by a Revolutionary War re-enactor, the DAR representatives placed markers with flags on the graves of these two patriots, Silas Purdy and William Purdy. They, with their families and others buried nearby, were brought to the light of remembrance this day, through the dedication of the WHS and their helpers seeking to preserve the local heritage.