Thursday, September 20, 2012

My Afternoon Hunting for Photos at Hillington Cemetery

A castle built by Philip Chase for his daughter Beverly about 1936.  It is by her gravestone at Hillington Cemetery in Morris, NY. 

Yesterday, armed with my surname list and the request list from Find A Grave for Hillington Cemetery in Morris, I went looking for familiar names.   Hillington is a large well laid out, well cared for cemetery with over 5000 residents.

I was looking for a cool, cloudy day, but not rainy so the tombstones wouldn't be wet.  I found a day close to that with sun coming and going.  Heat and I aren't friends, so that was my reason for a cool day.  Cloudy, because that makes for better photos when the sun isn't shining on the stones, or trying to photograph a side with the sun shining directly at you instead of from behind.  That happened a couple times.

First, I circled the lower level closest to Morris and found lots of names I recalled while typing up posts for this blog.  There are two hilltop parts at Hillington.  The older hilltop part is closest to town.  Shortly after I drove up there, a caretaker approached me asking what names I was looking for.  I laughingly told him he might be sorry he had asked as I hauled out my list.  He started telling me just where this and that one were.  Then he said if I would follow him, he would take me to them.  They all were on the newer hill.

I was amazed that he could remember more names on my list than I could just after glancing at it. Many requests were from Kathryn Hill who has been creating alot of Find A Grave Memorials at Hillington and other cemeteries in the Butternut Valley.  She also puts obituaries on and links families which is the nicest way of creating memorials.  I was astonished to discover that she lives in Illinois.  One of the names on my request list was for Mildred Chase.  That name started picking at my memory bank while I followed the truck.  Ha!  Bet she was the school secretary at New Berlin Central School for years.  I remember her very genial personality.

There was the gravesite of her husband, Philip and Mildred, as well as their daughter born in 1933 next to them.  In between the stones is a ?concrete castle that her father built for her when she was 3 years old when she was ill and bored.  The family had asked if they could put it on the gravesite and had been granted permission.  That is the little castle at the top of this page.

I'm more familiar with the new hill part since my paternal grandparents, an aunt and uncle, and two cousins are buried there and I often circle there in passing by the cemetery. 

In visiting further with the caretaker, I found out that he is 72 and weed whacks the graves.  That is quite a strenuous job for his age.  He has worked there 30 years after retiring from the Coast Guard.  He enjoys helping people and especially helping them to accept the mystery and heartbreak of death.  It also turned out that he used to spend time with an uncle in New Berlin and both his uncle and my father worked at I. L. Richer in New Berlin.  It is really a small world.

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