“Great Graves” Topic of Guilford Historical Society Social

Join the GHS for a great presentation by author Chuck D’Imperio on the “Great Graves of Upstate New York”. It all takes place on Saturday, February 14th at the Guilford United Methodist Church at 12:00 – 3:00. There will be socializing and luncheon from 12:00 to 1:00 with the presentation beginning at 1:00. The program highlights Chuck’s research for his book and his presentation of the subject is sometimes funny although the topic seems grim. As we know, many people, as we have done, actually enjoy strolling through a cemetery. There are few spots as peaceful and well kept, and they can lend the visitor a sense of the past and thoughts of eternity. They can also teach about history and biography. It’s amazing who you can meet there (in a manner of speaking).

Chuck D’Imperio has visited cemeteries large and small across upstate New York. His quest (he refers to it as a hobby) began after the interment of his 99-year old grandfather at Woodlawn Cemetery in Elmira, just down the path from Mark Twain. Soon Chuck was plodding through small country graveyards and leafy, expansive memorial gardens across upstate New York to find the notable as well as those noteworthy but forgotten. His book “Great Graves of Upstate New York” tells about seventy legendary individuals, from actresses Lucille Ball (buried in her hometown of Jamestown) and Helen Hayes (in her adopted community of Nyack) to industrialists George F. Johnson (Endicott) and Andrew Carnagie (Sleepy Hollow), writer Rod Sterling (Interlaken), aviator Glenn Curtiss (Hammondsport) and abolitionist Harriet Tubman (Auburn).

Some of the persons profiled by D’Imperio had obvious ties to New York, like author James Fenimore Cooper (Cooperstown) and Governor Samuel Tilden (New Lebanon). But there are also many whose New York connection is not often appreciated. The Wells Forgo stagecoaches opened America’s western frontier and the company is still headquartered in San Francisco, but William Fargo (Buffalo) and Henry Wells (Aurora, close to the campus of Wells College, which he founded) started their business with a delivery route between Albany and Buffalo.

“Big Chuck” D’Imperio (who is alive and well and living in Oneonta) is a broadcaster and writer. He and his wife Trish also operate Cooperstown Walks providing guided tours of that historic village.

The author spent a decade touring upstate cemeteries to write “Great Graves of Upstate New York.”. So join us February 14th at 12:00 noon to 3:00 at the Guilford Methodist Church for a free luncheon, socializing, raffles-valentine cake and more, displays and GHS sale items.

Report on the Wreath Project

At last nights meeting Tina showed photos of the wreath laying. Betsey Murray was chair person of the project,Tina Cemetery Committee chair, Scott president of the society, and Dave Hubbard, Veteran project chair. Thanks to them for enduring the cold to place the wreaths that Betsey collected. A great project with a lot of meaning. The following is a report from Scott and Tina.
Scott’s Report:
As you all know, our latest project was inspired by the national Wreaths across America program. The program’s goal was to place a wreath on as many veterans’ graves as possible on Saturday, December 13, 2008 at 12:00 pm. Since this was pretty much an impossible goal, GHS decided to place the wreaths on the gates of the major cemeteries within both Guilford and Mount Upton.
GHS was first introduced to the project at our November, 2008 meeting when Doris Camp, President of the VFW Post 1371 Ladies Auxiliary, gave a brief presentation. Immediately after the presentation, Betsy Murray volunteered to start collecting donations. Tom Gray prepared a letter to take to local businesses asking for donations, and the group did obtain two wreaths from Pires Flower Basket in Norwich. Wilma wrote an article to put in the local papers to increase project awareness. The group set a date of December 10 as the cutoff point for donations, although there were more after that. It was stressed in the article that anybody who wanted to participate was welcome to do so, and if they desired to place a wreath on a grave of a loved one, that too was encouraged.
As November moved along, Tina, who is head of the GHS Cemetery Committee, indicated that she would like to participate in the laying of the wreaths at the cemeteries. She actually set our itinerary because she’s familiar with all the local cemeteries.
As head of the GHS Veterans Committee, David Hubbard also became involved in the project. He became aware of a wreaths sale at Lowe’s, where he works, and made us aware of it. Through him, we purchased five wreaths total for the project.
By December 10, the project had seventeen wreaths to place at local cemeteries. Two of the wreaths were made by Ruth Tompkins, and five came from Lowe’s. The main source for wreaths however, came from a trio of friends, Joanne Gray, Michelle Gray, and Helen Ritchey. Their contribution to the project was a total of eight wreaths, all homemade!
A few days before Wreath Day, as I called it, Betsy brought up a very important point. She thought that it would be a good idea to identify the wreaths as having come from GHS. As a result, Mary Ellen Parsons, Shirley and David Hubbard created an identification tag to attach to the wreaths. David created the cards and printed them out, while Mom, Shirley and Betsy put them on the wreaths. Betsy’s idea was to put the tags in little sandwich bags and then seal them, thereby keeping them dry. Once they figured out how to put them all together, the three ladies went to work just like an assembly line!
By the arrival of Saturday, December 13, 2008, the Wreaths Committee met at 9:30 AM to begin our journey. Tina’s excellent summary describes our trek out into the cold and snow to go to the main cemeteries around Guilford and Mount Upton. Fortunately, Tina and David both took their cameras, thereby enabling us to take pictures at each spot where a wreath was placed. It was truly an exciting and humbling experience to honor our local veterans. David had to leave us shortly after noon because he had to go to work, so Tina, Betsy and I carried on with the project, but we didn’t finish it completely. After our fun, we returned back home, and all thawed out with hot chocolate and cookies. It was a perfect end to a picture perfect day.
Tina’s report:
On December 13, 2008 the Guilford Historical Society celebrated their first Cemetery Wreath Project. Modeled after the Wreaths Across America concept we
decided to honor our deceased veterans as well as our historical cemeteries this holiday season. In 12 degree weather on an icy Saturday morning, GHS president Scott Parsons, veteran David Hubbard, cemetery chair Tina Pabst, and GHS member and project head Betsy Murray set out on their mission. Armed with 19 wreaths, they spent 4 1/2 hours and traveled 45 miles to accomplish their goals. Wreaths were placed in the Guilford and Mt. Upton parks, as well as Sunset Hill, Gospel Hill, Yaleville, Yale, Cooper, Ives Settlement, East Guilford, Maplewood, Lady Upton, North Guilford, Godfrey, Guilford Center,and Dorman cemeteries. It was both a lot of fun and a time for reflection. The cemeteries were beautiful with the sparkly snow and ice encrusted tree branches. In a small way we acknowledged the huge sacrifices of our ancestors, pioneers, and current veterans.
Thanks to all who donated wreaths and their time. It was much appreciated.

Be sure to view the following video and click on the sound to turn on and you can view it full screen. Many thanks to Tina for the photos. This may be the first year for the project and hopefully will continue as a yearly event.