|19 Old Post Road|
New York USA
Postal Code: 10520
Phone: (914) 271-3468
|Cemetery notes and/or description:|
The Bethel Cemetery is located on a hill adjacent to the old Albany and New York Post Road, and overlooking the Hudson River,
The cemetery is in two sections and contains about 5,000 graves; the date of the earliest burial is 1801. It includes the grave of noted playwright and author Lorraine Hansberry (1930–1965).
In the center of the cemetery stands the Bethel Chapel
Built a few years after the end of the Revolutionary War,(about 1780) it is the earliest Methodist meetinghouse in Westchester County
It was at Bethel Church, according to the Bolton's history of Westchester, one Sunday evening when Colonel Van Cortlandt was attending services, that he chanced and to see a well dressed Indian leaning on a window sill, listening to the sermon. On learning it was Brant, the Mohawk Indian chief, who was stopping at the tavern nearby, Colonel Van Cortlandt invited him to dine with the family at the Manor House nearby. The elite wars became the topic of conversation.
The Colonel had once chased Brant and had been conscious that Indian sharpshooters had attempted to kill him while he was leaning against a tree. When the Colonel spoke of this incident, Brant replied: "I ordered one of my best marksman to pick you off, but you seem bulletproof. "
Within the cemetery sleep many men who have given their lives for their country.
Early Grave markers
The earliest graves at Bethel were marked with local fieldstones or with wood markers.
Grave markers that followed were made from slate, sandstone, marble, granite, limestone, schist, soapstone, and any other stone that was available.
Until transportation by rail became an option, most communities used whatever stone was brought by wagon from the nearest quarry, although villages like Croton, on the banks of the navigable Hudson River, were able to get stone from farther away.
Sandstone was used as ballast on many of the ships that plyed the Hudson, and supplied the stone carvers.
Red Sandstone Markers
There are examples of the oldest red sandstone markers in Bethel Cemetery. The rounded shape symbolized the "doorway to heaven" and the "hood of death." The stones are marvelous testimony to the creative skills of the talented artisans who carved them. Most of the men who cut gravestones were uninstructed craftsmen whose work was largely independent of formal principles of design. They worked alone in small villages, usually having another more profitable occupation such as blacksmithing, farming or fishing, receiving little or no attention for the unique work they did.
Many stones were created by an apprentices of John Zuricher, the well-known master stonecutter. Zuricher lived and worked in New York City until the Revolution. About 1776 during the British occupation of the City, he moved to Haverstraw in Rockland County. There is no further evidence of him after 1778
The cemetery is managed by the Trustees of the Asbury United Methodist Church, is still activly in use and listed on the National Register of Historic Places
Gene Baumwoll CSW (#46879782)
History and information partially provided by:
The Asbury Methodist Church, and "The Graven Images of Bethel Cemetery", a talk at the Croton Library by Howard Meyers and Historian Carl Oechsner