Shortly after 10 a.m. Saturday, November 5, a U.S. flag, which until recently flew over a hospital in Iraq, will be hoisted on a new flagpole to fly over the graves of American veterans of the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War buried at the Historic Monsey Cemetery. The cemetery, located at the corner of Maple Avenue and Saddle River Road, has been a Monsey landmark since the early 1800s. The flag and the flagpole, as well as many other improvements, are due to the efforts of Eagle Scout candidate Brian Negrin to restore and beautify the cemetery. Several community groups—Boy Scout Troop 78 of Nanuet, the Monsey/Ramapo Lions, American Legion Post 1682, and New Hope Christian Church—are joining together to witness the raising of the flag, to honor the memory of those buried there, and to recognize Mr. Negrin for his work and community spirit. The event is free, open to the public, and is expected to last under one hour.
The cemetery belongs to New Hope Christian Church of 57 Main Street, Monsey, and many of those buried there are among its earliest members and leaders. The True Reformed Dutch Church of West New Hempstead, as it was named for more than a century, was established in 1824 when 68 people seceded from the Brick Church of New Hempstead and established themselves as a new congregation in Monsey. The congregation’s original meeting house was on property adjacent to the cemetery, until they moved in 1869 to their current building on Main Street. After several decades of using the name Monsey Christian Reformed Church beginning in the 1950s, the congregation changed its name to New Hope Christian Church in 2000 and continues in the tradition of the Protestant Reformation today as part of the Presbyterian Church in America.
“Our church has a very long and important history in Monsey,” remarked Phillip Dennis, the church’s minister, “and it thrills me to be part of a continuing Christian witness in this place. Our cemetery is part of that witness. Buried there are people who died in the confident expectation of a future resurrection and eternal life thanks to the Lord Jesus Christ. That expectation is central to the Christian gospel, which remains certain no matter how much the landscape, the community, or the circumstances of our individual lives may change. We are so grateful to Brian for his initiative and hard work here,” Dennis continued. “We’re grateful to his whole family for the investment they’ve made in preserving this part of our church’s history, which is really our community’s history. The Monsey Lions have also done us a real service through the years by faithfully maintaining much of the cemetery property, and we want to thank them from the bottom of our heart too.”
According to data from the Genealogical Society of Rockland County, the earliest burial at the cemetery was Peter R. VanHouten in 1808. The latest was Minnie Young in 1955. Among those buried at the cemetery are two veterans of the Revolutionary War, six of the War of 1812, and two of the Civil War. General Peter S. VanOrden (d. 1840) served during both the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. Saturday’s ceremony will include a flag raising, short remarks about the history of the cemetery and people buried there, and the presentation of a plaque to Mr. Negrin, in appreciation of his work, by representatives of New Hope Christian Church. Complimentary hot drinks and light refreshment will be provided immediately afterward at the cemetery by members of the church.