Abiding in Cochecton
East Cochecton Cemetery
Heading toward Route 97 on the Old Newburgh-Cochecton Turnpike, its white wooden sign is plainly visible from the road. This well manicured, gently sloping cemetery contains 19th and 20th century graves. Headstones here show 19th century life spans measured in days (and sometimes hours); one headstone described its occupant’s life span as 25 years, seven months, and four days. (Was real time more appreciated before the advent of mass media?) Another headstone from the 19th century proclaimed a life span of 58 years, despite birth and death dates that clearly indicated a 55-year existence, proof positive that the mathematically challenged are not unique to our time.
Located on the north side of unpaved Stony Road, between Old County Road and Route 116, this cemetery is almost invisible from the road. Only a small, weathered brown wooden sign and a stone wall delineate it from the surrounding forest. It is un-manicured and beautiful in its wildness, and fiddlehead ferns grow everywhere here. Of the four cemeteries, this is one of the oldest, containing graves from the early 19th and 20th centuries. Begun as a community cemetery, it shelters those associated with the Nearing family by both birth and marriage and an unknown number of unrelated others as well. It is now a “closed” cemetery, no longer accepting new residents. But as Ron Nearing, the current caretaker of the cemetery, points out, “Maintenance, preservation and restoration are an ongoing responsibility, something that we owe our ancestors.” It’s a daunting job. One of the most durable materials on earth, stone is nevertheless subject to the destructive forces of nature and human neglect. Noting that many of the older sandstone and fieldstone markers have fallen, shifted, cracked, weathered and split, Nearing says that all stones found within the cemetery walls are considered sacred and treated as such.
Tyler Town Cemetery