Jerusalem group seeks respect for history

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express
This photo shows some of the damage to stones in the Beddoe-Rose Cemetery.

Located on a wooded promontory point bordered by a steep ravine and stream on the South and a gentler slope on the North, the Beddoe-Rose Cemetery has seen better days.

The initial grave site was that of Catharine Beddoe, who died in 1815. However, the small plot of land now containing 14 graves, and located in the present day Keuka State Park has witnessed thoughtless acts of vandalism.

Presently, there are no head stones that have been untouched - some have been tipped over, others broken and still others rolled down the adjoining slopes.  

The most recent damage to this significant historical site is the picking away of the modest mortared stone wall which surrounds the cemetery. Restoration and preservation of this local asset is certainly overdue.

The condition of the cemetery came to light to about 20 people at a recent meeting of the Jerusalem History Club held at the Branchport Library.

Local resident and club member Don Wright shared information he had gathered while researching several local cemeteries and restoration guidelines for historic cemeteries in general. The group saw for themselves the condition of the Beddoe-Rose Cemetery when Don presented a video tour of the cemetery. Don read to the group from  A Graveyard Preservation Primer, by Lynette Strangestad: “(Grave) Stones are archeological artifacts.  Unlike most artifacts, they’re in the same location as originally placed.”

The group expressed concern with the present condition of the cemetery and discussed steps that could be taken to prevent further damage and possible restoration of the cemetery to its former condition.

While there are several roadblocks that may inhibit action being taken immediately, ranging from jurisdictional concerns, insurance questions and funding issues, the consensus of the group was that this is a project well worth the effort.

Everyone reading this article is asked to be part of the group’s effort to preserve this cemetery by having a discussion with family and friends about the respect due to existing cemeteries.  This cemetery may appear to be abandoned and neglected with no one caring, but these are the facts:

This is the resting place for 14 of Jerusalem’s pioneer families.  

John Beddoe came from Wales about 1798 and built a house near the shore just below the cemetery. His stone is the one at the bottom of the hill. Members of the Rose and related Sill families, who built the nearby mansions of Esperanza and Hampstead and extensive surrounding property, are also buried in this plot.  

In connection with this project, the group is inviting Marshall Gurnee, who has restored the Harrington Cemetery on Skyline Drive to its meeting on May 25 at 7 p.m.

On June 22 at 1 p.m. the group is planning, “An Afternoon with Jane.”  Jane Davis will speak about her book  The Beddoe Tract, which tells about the family who occupy the Beddoe - Rose Cemetery.  

The group meets at the Branchport Library Anyone who is interested in preserving Jerusalem history is welcome.