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Column for 4.4.12
Not that I look forward to being in one of them permanently, but cemeteries are wonderful places. They are peaceful and filled with history. Usually cemeteries are located in nice parts of town and offer great views.
Take, for example, the Boonville Cemetery. More than a few times I’ve walked through there and up its hill, noting the markers of the people buried there. Walking to the top is good exercise, too.
The most famous cemetery in Oneida County is Forest Hill Cemetery, off Oneida Street in Utica. Like the Boonville Cemetery, Forest Hill Cemetery is on a hill offering great views and is filled with history.
The reasons cemeteries in general and Forest Hill in particular are on my mind is because of a new book. It was co-authored by Lou Parrotta, who has written many sports columns for the Boonville Herald. He is a teacher, historian and president of the Oneida County Historical Society.
The name of the book is “Forest Hill Cemetery, The Stories Behind the Epitaphs.”
The book’s co-author is Scott Fiesthumel, who, by the way, has written several books about baseball.
The thing that makes Forest Hill Cemetery unique is the prominent people laid to rest there. I intentionally did not write “buried” because Forest Hill has many mausoleums, including the one containing the remains of James Schoolcraft Sherman, the vice president of the United States during the William H.Taft administration.
Sherman, known as Sunny Jim because of his upbeat personality, was elected Utica’s mayor at the young age of 29 and went on to serve 10 terms as a U.S. Congressman. Sherman was born in 1855 and died in 1912. Some 25,000 people attended his funeral.
Here are a couple of other prominent people laid to rest at Forest Hill Cemetery:
* Roscoe Conkling (1829-1888) was an attorney, Utica mayor, Congressman, and U.S. Senator. One writer had this to say about Conkling: “He was by 1873 the most powerful administration voice (when U.S. Grant was president) on Capitol Hill and the undisputed leader of New York State.” Three times Conkling turned down nominations to the U.S. Supreme Court.
* Ward Hunt (1810-1905) didn’t turn down President Grant’s nomination to the Supreme Court. He joined the other justices on the highest court in the country in 1872. Prior to that he had served as Utica’s mayor, a state assemblyman, and the New York State Court of Appeals.
* Theodore Faxton (1792-1881) made his money, and a lot of it, in the transportation industry. Faxton operated packet boats on the Erie Canal, was a founder of the Utica & Black River Railroads, operated a stagecoach company, and owned steamers on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. Faxton was Utica’s mayor and Oneida County’s Sheriff. And if you ever wondered how Faxton Hospital got its name, now you know. He provided the money for building the hospital.
* Horatio Seymour (1818-1886) was elected governor of New York in 1852 and served two terms. And he ran for president of the United States as a Democrat against the Republican U.S. Grant. Although Seymour got beaten handily in the Electoral College vote, it was close in the popular vote, Grant got 3,015,071 votes to Seymour’s 2,709,213.
The 73-page, $11.95 book is for sale at the Oneida County Historical Society, among other places.