Cemetery Signage

For ten years, we have explored cemeteries all over New York state. It always saddens us to find an old cemetery without a sign leaving us to wonder what name it had.

We decided to do something about it, and hired a few local people to make signs for some of our favorite unmarked cemeteries. One winter we also hand-painted a couple ourselves and found it to be a challenge. A few years prior to that, we had become members of an organization called the Central New York State Cemetery Network (CNYSCN) which is part of the New York State Archaeological Association. It is a group of like-minded people interested in gravestone and cemetery preservation and studying old gravestones carvers of New York.

At a CNYSCN meetings that we had the pleasure and honor to meet Bill Pomeroy, the founder of the William G. Pomeroy Foundation. His foundation is responsible for many of the blue and yellow historic markers seen along New York state roads, such as the one for Wakeman Cemetery we wrote about awhile back. “Wakeman Cemetery restoration recognized” and “Wakeman Cemetery”. We discovered he not only had a passion for history but seemed to have a particular interest in cemeteries. We became friends and went on a couple of cemetery tours together and corresponded about some cemetery projects and issues. He learned about our involvement with cemeteries and our cemetery sign pursuits. He is a great guy.

A year ago we got an email from Bill letting us know that the Pomeroy Foundation was offering a signage program for unmarked cemeteries. We were thrilled to hear that news. He put us in touch with his daughter Deryn which led to the development of a cemetery marker pilot program. Although the Pomeroy Foundation unmarked cemetery sign program is new and the details are still being worked out, we installed the first of the signs with a dedication and unveiling at Harmony Cemetery near Morris Nov. 12.

The signs have a chocolate-brown background and cream colored lettering. They include the name of the cemetery, its earliest burial and the county in which the cemetery is located. A “Tree of Life” is included at the top of the sign to represent worldwide interconnectedness of cultures and religions.

Recently we attended the dedication and unveiling of another new sign at Evergreen Cemetery at White Store in Chenango County. This sign, funded by a grant from the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, has a blue background and yellow lettering with a splash of red at the top for the contour of New York state which is overlayed with a Minuteman soldier. They include the name of the cemetery, the date of its earliest burial, the number of Revolutionary War patriots buried there and the date range of the burials. If there are just a few buried there they may be listed on the sign by name.

These signs are intended to recognize our ancestors who fought in or were involved with our struggle for independence during the Revolutionary War. At least 17 patriot burials are documented in Evergreen Cemetery. We started with 20 burials to research but determined only 17 met Pomeroy Foundation’s requirements. The signs are a welcome addition to any cemetery.

The Wakeman Cemetery marker, in Walton in Delaware County, is another example of a Pomeroy Foundation-funded sign. The Wakeman Cemetery marker gives some history of the cemetery. It has a blue background and yellow lettering but with an outline of New York state in the crest also filled in with yellow. Many such signs are seen along roads throughout the state.

If you know of a cemetery and would like to have a special sign for it, the William G. Pomeroy Foundation has one that should fit your needs. The foundation offers a sign with the just the name and earliest burial, or the Revolutionary War patriots buried there can be its focus; or, you can go with a sign that focuses on the history of the cemetery. All are wonderful and would complement any historic cemetery. If your application – which must be sponsored by a non-profit 501(c)(3) – is approved, the special signs will not cost a dime. Check the website at: wgpfoundation.org.

November 30, 2022