Touring the Tombstones | A Walk Through the Graves of Clinton County Natives

The Adirondack Coast is known for its historical treasures that highlight northern New York’s place in history with museums, monuments and forts. These various exhibits teach locals and tourists about the alluring or pivotal moments that made the Adirondack Coast what it is today, but what about the cemeteries?

(DoNorth/Kayla Breen)

The Adirondack Coast is known for its historical treasures that highlight northern New York’s place in history with museums, monuments and forts. These various exhibits teach locals and tourists about the alluring or pivotal moments that made the Adirondack Coast what it is today, but what about the cemeteries?  Clinton County alone is home to more than 150 cemeteries that are the final resting places to important figures that were critical to Clinton County’s history.  “Tombstone tourism,” the new term coined for people who like to explore cemeteries, has taken off across the country. Tourists can appreciate impressive architecture, exquisite statues and mausoleums, and can even learn about historical figures and local genealogy. All of the cemeteries in Clinton County are free to visit and many offer stunning views of the Adirondack mountains and coast.


Riverside Cemetery

Established in 1910, Riverside Cemetery is located off Steltzer Road and is a historic staple in Plattsburgh. Some of the oldest graves go back to the early 1800s. Tourists can travel through time as they walk among the tombstones. Travelers familiar with Plattsburgh will recognize famous surnames like Palmer, Sailly, Stetson and Platt. Tourists short on time can get a crash course of Plattsburgh history by visiting infamous dead residents.

Zephaniah Platt was born on May 27, 1735, in Huntington, Long Island. He was a U.S. Continental Congressman, New York State Senator and the founder of Plattsburgh. According to the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, Platt founded the town of Plattsburgh in 1784 while serving as the county judge of Dutchess County. Platt eventually moved to Plattsburgh in 1798 where he continued to practice law until his death on Sept. 12, 1807, at the age of 72. He is buried with his first wife, second wife and children. The Platt plots are easy to spot from the gravel cemetery road and require minimal walking.

Riverside Cemetery is the final resting place of British Cpt. George Downie of the Confiance, the main ship of an assembled British fleet during the Battle of Plattsburgh. Downie met his untimely death when he was struck by a U.S flagship cannonball. Downie’s raised grave rests in the northeastern side of the cemetery, close to the fence.

A memorial honoring the Tredwell family stands to the side of the gravel road that meanders through Riverside Cemetery. Thomas Tredwell, a prominent Long Islander whose family intermarried with the Platt family, practiced law in Plattsburgh in the 1770s. Tredwell eventually became a member of the New York State Assembly from 1777 to 1783 and served in the New York State Senate from 1786 to 1789. In 1791, Tredwell was elected to fill a vacancy at the House of Representatives and served until 1795. Tredwell, an anti-federalist, also played a critical role in the legal creation of the Bill of Rights. Tredwell returned to Plattsburgh and served as Clinton County Surrogate Judge until his death on Dec. 30, 1831. His family and his slave Phyllis requested to be laid at the foot of Thomas Tredwell’s grave on the private family burial ground off of Route 9 in Beekmantown.  The Tredwell Graveyard is open to the public.

Riverside Cemetery is located at 30 Steltzer Rd., Plattsburgh, NY 12901.


Riverview Cemetery

Riverview Cemetery, located off of Route 9 North in Chazy, is a small but quaint burial ground that sits on a small hill overlooking the Little Chazy River. Riverview gets its fame due to it being the final resting place of local philanthropists William H. and Alice T. Miner.

According to The Alice T. Miner Museum website, the cemetery was incorporated 1920, but the land had been used as a cemetery since early 1811. In 1916, William bought the cemetery and some surrounding land and began to build the infamous stone chapel and mausoleum that still stands on the cemetery grounds.

Frederick Townsend, the architect who designed the chapel and mausoleum, is the also the same designer who designed The Alice T. Miner Museum, Chazy Central Rural School, Champlain Valley Physicians’ Hospital and some of the buildings on Heart’s Delight Farm.

The mausoleum features the initials “T M,” which stands for the Trainer and Miner families and is the final resting place of William and Alice.


Independence Cemetery

Independence Cemetery sits at the base of a small hill in the town of Saranac located at 33-35 McCutcheon Ln. A long patch of grass and a gravel road separates Independence Cemetery into an old and new section.  Independence Cemetery is an easy walk through packed with history.

In the old section of the cemetery sits a monument honoring 416 Civil War veterans. The townspeople of Saranac sent over three and half times its draft quota to fight for the Union Army during the Civil War. At the time the population of Saranac was 3,600. This makes Independence Cemetery unique because this monument is the first Civil War monument of its kind in Clinton County.

The monument features a Civil War soldier standing tall on a granite base above the other gravestones, honoring the 416 Saranac soldiers. On each side of the monument, at its base, is a plaque that lists major battles and the names of fallen soldiers.


Protestant Cemetery

After visiting Independence Cemetery, head six miles west on Route 9 to the town of Redford, where the Protestant Cemetery rests on a hill in the middle of town. Located at the intersection of Clinton and Spruce Street, the Protestant Cemetery offers spectacular views of the mountains. The Adirondack Park is only minutes away.

The cemetery is the final resting spot of local melt master Martin Tankard. Tankard worked at the Redford Glass Company, well-known for its Redford Crown Glass.

In 1830, Gershom Cook and Charles Corning searched for a new factory location. They decided on Redford for its sandstone, which was a desirable quality for glass making. Backed by the Champlain Glass Co. in Vermont, Cook, Corning and John S. Foster began building the factory to produce what would eventually be known as Redford Glass.

Foster was the only person who knew the secret recipe that gave Redford Glass its distinct aquamarine and sea-green color. Foster refused to disclose the glass formula and was eventually discharged from the company.

Tankard was the only employee with the formula. But, after a factory “no smoking” rule was put in place, Tankard quit. Employees tried, unsuccessfully, to recreate the formula but after several ruined batches, they decided to reinstate Tankard.

Tankard died on Feb. 2, 1877 at the age of 77 and is buried with his wife Elizabeth.

Issue 10: Winter/Spring 2018

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