PLATTSBURGH — Fundraising efforts to restore a historic gravestone in Plattsburgh’s Riverside Cemetery have been renewed to help reach a $5,000 goal.
The Halsey Gravestone Repair Fund Drive, which was able to collect more than $1,300 earlier this year, was put on hold when organizers believed they would receive $2,500 in matching funds from the National Daughters of the American Revolution.
However, the Halsey project was not one of 28 grants awarded by the DAR’s National Committee based in Washington, D.C.
“We still need a little more help,” said retired City of Plattsburgh Historian Jim Bailey, who is spearheading the efforts to restore the failing gravestone.
“Our contract (for restoration) is with Plattsburgh Memorials, and we can get started (on the project) with half the bid, but we’ll need to secure the rest before completion.”
The Rev. Frederick Halsey, who died in 1838, came to Plattsburgh from Long Island in 1795 and created the first Presbyterian church in Clinton County.
He served as chaplain during the War of 1812 and lived on Tom Miller Road, 300 feet west of Halsey’s Corners, the site of an American skirmish with the British on Sept. 6, 1814.
Halsey’s gravestone is one of only a few markers in Riverside’s historic section that lies flat above a raised rectangle of cut stone. The cut stone has severely deteriorated, causing some concern that the gravestone itself will fall and be damaged.
“It’s a mess,” Bailey said of the gravestone’s current condition.
Another flat, raised gravestone lies several dozen feet from the Halsey stone, marking the final resting place of Capt. George Downie, the British naval commander during the Battle of Plattsburgh.
Downie’s marker remains in excellent condition, however.
Bailey said he believes the foundation used to install Halsey’s grave may not have been sufficient to hold the enormous marker. Part of the restoration project will include placing a strong foundation beneath the raised marker, he said.
Halsey’s grave is also close to the family plot of James Bailey, a successful businessman in Plattsburgh during the 1800s who owned property where Riverside Cemetery now exists.
James Bailey married Halsey’s daughter, Caroline, and Jim Bailey believes Caroline’s father may have been responsible for providing Halsey with such an elaborate gravestone.
Jim Bailey said he does not know if James Bailey is a relative, but he did note that both James and his ancestors came to northern New York from Vermont.
Another marker within a stone’s throw of Halsey’s grave is that of Tom Miller, who lived near Halsey and was also his commanding officer during the War of 1812.
“They were neighbors in life, and now here they are not that far from one another,” Bailey noted.
Bailey said he hopes the project can be completed by the September commemoration of the Battle of Plattsburgh.
An annual memorial service is always held at Riverside Cemetery, just a short distance from the Halsey gravesite.
Email Jeff Meyers:firstname.lastname@example.org
HOW TO HELP
Anyone interested in supporting the Rev. Halsey Grave Restoration fund can make checks out to The Battle of Plattsburgh Association, marked "for Halsey grave restoration," and mail or carry them to the War of 1812 Museum, 31 Washington Road, Plattsburgh, N.Y. 12903.
The Battle of Plattsburgh Association is a registered 501-C-3 not-for-profit organization. Receipts for all donations will be issued.