Old Town Cemetery
Newburgh, New York 12550

Welcome to the Old Town Cemetery
Newburgh, New York

In 1709 Palatine German refugees (twelve families and two bachelors) settled near Quassaick Creek.  This land became known as The German Patent.  On December 18,  1719, Queen Anne of England granted a charter to the land which included 50 acres for every man, woman and child of the 53 settlers.  The grant included a 500 acre section known as the "Glebe."  This land was intended to provide support for a clergyman and schoolmaster for the new community.  Also known as The Parish of Newburgh, The Glebe extended from the Hudson River one mile to the west, to Limestone Hill.  (This western boundary was established in 1804.) Today's North and South Streets formed the northern and southern boundaries.

After the American Revolution, efforts were made to change the legal status of The Glebe, but in 1803, the state government passed a law which served as the basis for administration of the Glebe. This includes appointment of five commissioners responsible for the Old Town Cemetery, which are to include the mayor of the city, the superintendent of schools, the pastor of Calvary Presbyterian Church and two others.  The commissioners are the City of Newburgh Mayor, Superintendent of Schools for the Newburgh Schools, and the Pastor of Calvary Presbyterian Church.

The cemetery contains roughly 1,300 stones, headstones and footstones, with at least 1,700 persons buried; there may be as many as 2,500, as there were numerous gravesites without headstones. Many of the burial records have been misplaced or destroyed over the years, though original plot maps are still in the possession of the Board of Education,.  Many copies of the 1898 Inscriptions inventory and annotations prepared by the Historical Society of Newburgh Bay and the Highlands still exist. The earliest headstone that can still be deciphered is 1759, although even in 1898 there were stones already so old that the writing had been obliterated. 

Among the rich variety of monuments is the 1853 Robinson Mausoleum, thought by some to be designed by Andrew Jackson Davis. Unique in the world, it is a pyramid set atop a mastaba in the Egyptian Revival style. Captain Henry ‘Bully’ Robinson was a seafarer who traveled the world, returning to Newburgh with what may be the first goldfish brought to America. Upon retirement, he founded a rowing club that is parent to the existing Newburgh Rowing Club, and organized renowned regattas.

During 1999, with the urging of the Commission, the City of Newburgh contracted to have the Robinson Mausoleum fully restored and the monuments of two Congressmen, Fisk and McKissock, repaired and cleaned. A brochure mapping and highlighting the significant persons and gravestones was printed.  The map included in the brochure is available as an interactive map on this website. (Click here).  Under the guidance of the City’s Engineering Department, an extensive mapping and database G.I.S. project was also begun. In 2002, a booklet celebrating the American Revolutionary-era men buried in the cemetery was published. (Click here)

In an ongoing effort to restore and maintain the Old Town Cemetery, The Friends of Newburgh’s Old Town Cemetery was formed at a meeting of the Newburgh Preservation Association on October 28, 1999. Two Co-Chairs were appointed: Jim Wanamaker, who has been actively inventorying graves and clearing away decades of overgrowth, and Gerardo Sanchez, a restoration visionary. Working in partnership with the Commissioners of Old Town Cemetery, as appointed by the City Council, the Friends’ goal is to restore Old Town Cemetery to its original dignified beauty and maintain it as an urban historical strolling park.  Their objectives for the next few years include:

~ historical & biographical walking tours
~ making the completed interactive G.I.S. mapping and database project available on the Internet
    (Click here for the  interactive map created from the brochure printed in 2000)
~ publishing of an elegant ‘coffee table’ book incorporating photography, artwork, and history 
~ re-publishing of the 1898 Inscriptions fully updated with extensive biographical information
~ the hiring of a grounds keeper
~ building an equipment shed 

If you would like to help continue the efforts to the Friends of Newburgh's Old Town Cemetery, click here for their Membership Application.


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Last modified: September 05, 2017