I found this newspaper article with my mothers scrapbooks things. She never was able to get it pasted in her scrapbook so I decided to add it here. It has nothing to do with my personal genealogy but is a very important part of Jefferson Co., New York history. It was written in 3 parts by Joanne Johnson and published in the Sunday Weekly section of the Watertown Daily Times. The dates were Jan. 12,1997; Jan. 19,1997 & Jan 26,1997.In the 1950's when I lived near the area it was then known as Pine Camp. We were free to enter the area and I remember the beautiful Lilac's that grew there and the wild berries. My mother used to say that they were left behind when the people who once had homes there had to move out. We had to be very careful because my mother said there were still land mines or live bombs on the ground so we were not allowed to wonder freely. Today it is a major military camp where most of our troops are deplored to overseas countries.
Watertown Daily Times: Sunday Weekly
Special to the Times
By Joanne Johnson
She is an assistant professor of English at Jefferson Community College, where she teaches courses in composition and creative writing. She also is the editor of the college's literary journal, the Black River Review.
She originated and continues to organize the Campus Writers Read program, a series of readings of original works by faculty, students and guest authors.
Army jeeps, splotched green and brown, bounce along the rutted gravel roads that pass by them. Huey and Cobra choppers fly over them. Deep in the Impact Area, mortar shells whistle over them, and howitzers pound the ground. Soldiers on maneuvers, M16s heavy on their shoulders, slog through the mud and brush only to stop suddenly in front of one.
These are the village cemeteries of Fort Drum, familiar enough to those who work and live on the military reservation, but off-limits to civilians 362 days a year. Only on Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day are the mortars and howitzers silenced and the orange road gates lifted from noon to 5 p.m.
During these five hours, Fords and Chevys, pickup trucks and minivans, instead of the usual military vehicles, roam the roads as people visit the graves of family and friends. Most visitors are local but some come from as far away as Florida,or Arizona, searching for a dimly remembered Relative or a missing leaf from their genealogical tree. On Memorial Day, . men and women from the Veterans of Foreign Wars arrive with miniature American flags to honor the gravestones of the dead.
But where did they come from, these forlorn markers of a vanished past? Sheepfold, Slocum-Child, Cooper, St. Mary's, Gates, Woods Mills, Derby-Hubbard. Alexandria Road, Pierce,St. Patrick’s; although now all within the military reservation, these cemeteries existed long before Fort Drum, before Camp Drum, before even Pine Camp. Their stories go back to the little villages of LeRaysville, Sterlingvi1le, North WIlna, Woods Mills and Lewisburg, all of which disappeared forever with the 1941 expansion of the post.
Although the aristocrat James D. LeRay de Chaumont, whose family had befriended Benjamin Franklin in Paris, owned much of the land in and around Jefferson County, it was Benjamin Brown, a brother of Gen. Jacob Brown of Brownville, who built the first sawmill and dam on pleasant Creek in 1801, near the present Remington Pond, on land he purchased from LeRay. That community was called Brown's Mill.
It wasn’t until LeRay’s “ grand manor house" was finished, said historian Hamilton Child, that the village became LeRaysville. Later, a largermore imposing house, with a stone façade, was completed. With it’s gardens, parks and artificial lake, it was decribed as “The most splendid establishment west of the Hudson,” according to Harry Landon in his “History of the North County” – a “miniature Versailles,” where LeRay held court and once entertained President James Monroe and Napoleon’s brother, Joseph Bonaparte.
In the Hamlet, LeRay opened a land office and a store. Because it was located on the crossroads of routes connecting the villages of Evans Mills to Great Bend and Black River to Philadelphia and Antwerp, LeRaysville became a tiny transportation hub.
A tavern opened in 1810, then a post office in 1818. By 1821 the village had a grist mill, 20 houses and a school. By 1860 it peaked with a population of 120 and about a dozen stores and businesses; then it slowly declined, according to the 1981 "4 River Valleys Historical Society Journal."
Three cemeteries are located in and around what used to be LeRaysville, now the heart of the Fort Drum cantonment (administrative and barracks area). The most accessible, which can be visited at any time, is right off Route 26, going toward Great Bend. Everts and Holcomb's 1878 "History of Jefferson County" identified it as the Pine,Plains. Long called the Sheepfold Cemetery, although the origin of the name is lost in time, it may have begun as a private burial place for the LeRay family, but no LeRay’s have ever been buried there.
However, the Payens, who bought the estate, including the cemetery land, after LeRay died, are buried here. The large family monument in the front row is topped by a stone urn and includes Jules Rene Payen, a native of France and Knight of the Legion of Honor, his wife Annette, daughter Julia and her husband, William Phelps.
More interesting is the broken,crumbling headstone far in the back, almost in the woods. It is a plain marble slab, once 5 feet high, erected by LeRay’s three children Vincent, Alexander and Therese, for their nurse Rachel, who died in 1834, reports Ernest Cook, who wrote many articles on local history for the Times.
It reads, “ Rachel, a good.and faithfull nurse." Although, the children called her "Aunt Rachel," she was an African American and served in the LeRay household along with other "colored coservitors," according to Everts and Holcomb.
Surprisingly, New York state did a brisk business in slaves in Early Colonial times. The 1810 Federal Census records 22 slaves in Jefferson County; in the 1814 census, there were 30 slaves, four listed in the town of LeRay. Three belonged to LeRay himself, according to a 1995 article written by Jefferson County Historian Laura Scharer, which she based on original Federal Census records.
Although Rachel, who died free, according to historian Scharer, may have had the only marked stone, it is Possible that other slaves could have been buried in unmarked graves just outside the main part of the old cemetery.
In addition to the French in LeRay, there was also a strong Quaker influence. Hidden from view, at the top of a hill along Fourth Street, lies the cemetery Fort Drum lists as Slocum-Child.
Nowadays, the visitor drives in from the rear, along a dirt road. But originally, the approach was from a road going south out of LeRaysville, then up a narrow land that led to the crest of the hill where a low stone wall marked the beginning of the cemetery. Because of the early Quakers who settled here, this became known as Quaker Hill.
The first Friends Meeting House was a log cabin near Pleasant Creek. When it burned down, a stone one was built in 1816 near the intersection of Route 26 and Bedlam Road, or Wards Corners. The Old Stone Church, as it was called, became a local landmark.
Once inside, men sat on the high wooden benches on the right, blackbonneted women on the left. No words were spoken, until someone was moved by the spirit, according to a 1935 letter to the Times by Minnie Ward Kellogg, who grew up nearby.
She recalled that "in the woods behind the meeting house, many of the old Quakers were buried." But no trace of that graveyard has been found, perhaps because, as she continued, "The graves were later removed to the LeRaysville cemetery." By this she meant the Slocum-Child graveyard.
This second cemetery was one of the results of a dispute among the Quakers over whether or not to use music and pastors in the service. The conservatives left and built another church, a simple, wooden one, in the village. They bought land from Stephen Roberts on Quaker Hill, according to Everts and Holcomb, and established the graveyard that was known locally as the old Quaker cemetery.
These early settlers, though, in keeping with the Quaker custom of avoiding signs of worldly wealth, had no headstones. But Thomas Hart, a grandson of the founding Quaker Joseph Child, from Philadelphia, Pa., told Ernest Cook that "I have seen my grandfather .. painstakingly go after the people had departed to mark the grave with some field stone he had picked up on the way to the cemetery."
Sometime afterwards, Child would tell a few individuals in the congregation about the shape or kind of stone he put on the grave, so that family members would have the comfort of knowing where their loved ones were buried.
In 1931 the LeRay superintendent of highways ordered the restoration of this cemetery, and Ernest Cook visited with Hart. Cook noted that after the fieldstones, the first row of graves belonged to the Child family: Samuel, who died in 1862; and then Moses, Nancy, son Amos, age 11; and daughter Lydia.
As Cook walked through the cemetery, he recorded the names of two Civil War veterans, Caleb Slocum and James H. Palmer. Also buried here is Samuel G. Slocum, the man for whom Slocumville, a tiny village north of LeRaysville known for its powder factory and woolen mill, was named.
There are families of Gardners, Robertses and Burdicks. The gravestone of one young Burdick, Mercy Jane, who died at 18, reads “God made thee as a bud too fair; To bloom on this cold earth; And chose for thee a brighter place; Among flowers of heavenly birth."
Today, the stone wall is crumbling and overgrown with weeds. There are few fieldstones. But Samuel's grave is just as Cook described it, along with his family. The Civil War veterans are easily found, and Mercy Jane's stone, her inscription almost unreadable, still stands beside those of her mother and father.
The final cemetery on the Fort Drum cantonment is the Cooper Cemetery, a family cemetery tucked away behind the post's new health clinic.
It was discovered, unexpectedly, during a 1986 survey for road construction. Research, funded by the United States Army and conducted by the cultural resource group of Louis Berger and Associates, revealed that this graveyard was on the farm of William Cooper, or Guillaume Coupart. He was also known as the "French" Cooper, a man who left his homeland to avoid conscription in the Napoleonic Wars.
The original farmstead was about a quarter of a mile northeast of the Bedlam and Conway roads intersection, but now the approach is from the rear by way of a dead-end dirt lane, off Mt. Belvedere Boulevard.
On the ridge of a low hill, surrounded by maples and enclosed by a low limestone retaining wall, are the five graves: william, who died in 1851, is buried next to his wife, Margaret; their son William Jr., who died in 1871; his wife Elvira, and their daughter Margaret, who died at 21.
Behind the gravestones, at a distance of 5 or 6 feet, stand the footstones, a common sight in old cemeteries. These are small stones, with the person's initials, that mark the end of the grave so that the burial site will not be disturbed when others are added.
Sunday, January 19,1997
St. Mary's, stretching from the road back to the creek, is called the Catholic cemetery byfolks who lived in the area.
Originally the church, too, stood here, built in 1838 on land donated by James Sterling. But in the winter of 1885, it was moved across the frozen ice of the creek and into the village; In this cemetery, the family names of Savage and Varley dominate, and Savage-Varley is the name by which it is known to those on Fort Drum.
A mile farther south, on Plank Road, is the Protestant cemetery. It is referred to as the Town Burying Ground in Everts and Holcomb's 1878 "History of Jefferson County" and is listed as the Gates Cemetery by Fort Drum because it was thought to come from farmland owned by the Gates family.
However, according to Everts and Holcomb, one acre was originally purchased from Adam Comstock in 1850. Rectangular, it is larger than St. Mary's and served a variety of denominations. Around some of the larger tombstones are wrought-iron railings and thick iron posts; standing alone at intervals like solitary sentinels. Names like Hatch and Backus, Myers and Caster, Ritter and Essington, the family that built an iron forge and sawmill in the village, appear on the stones, most which date back to the last three decades of the 18OOs.
James Sterling, the founder of the village, is buried here. He built the first blast furnace in 1835 to work the ore from the mines at Antwerp, forming the Sterling Iron Co. He was famous for his "cold blat charcoal pig iron," which was known as Sterling Iron, according to the Watertown Daily Times. Sterling also gave his name to two other, shorter lived villages in the area, Sterling burg and Sterling bush.
Sterling weighed 396 pounds, and folklore has it that he put a 4-pound iron weight in his pocket to make it an even 400, said Mrs. Raymond Petersen, who was born in Sterlingville. He was so large that Watertown's Hotel Woodruff had a chair made especially for him, according to the Times.
In 1981, the 4 River Valleys Histoncal Society Journal reported that in 1865 this furnace, under Sterling's sons, produced 1,000 tons of iron for use in the Civil War, and consumed 160,000 bushels of charcoal to do so.
By the late 1860s, there were more than two dozen businesses in the village, including four mills a hotel two doctors, a carriage maker and a music teacher. But by the 1890s, industry was declining, and the village became more of a farming community.
From Sterlingville, one heads east toward the Indian River and what used to be the little village of Woods Mills. A trail, not much wider than a car, winds down to where the water rushes under a wooden bridge.
Woods Mills is inside the Main Impact Area, and a sign warns drivers that there are unexploded shells, or duds, in the ground. Although not likely, anyone of these could be set off by geologic or climatic changes, perhaps even by the weight of a vehicle inching along the road. Across the bridge, along the bank, are the ruins of a long-abandoned . grist mill; about a half a mile up the road to the left is the cemetery.
Here, another sign reads "Families who have had headstones damaged by shelling should call the Post Commander." Most of the badly damaged stones came from an incident back in 1988 when mortar shells fell short of their target, said Cait Schadock, the National Environmental Protection Act coordinator at Fort Drum.
A Times article dates the cemetery back to 1820 and describes it as having about 50 graves. Among the families buried here are Randall, Hewitt, Canfield, Kelley, King, Swind, Mack, Hull and Tooly, as well as two soldiers from __ the War of 1812.Many graves, however, have no markers.
First called Woods or Woods Settlement, the village on the Indian River grew up around the saw- and gristmills that Jonathan Wood built when he and his wife Betsey came from the Oneida Section in 1833. William Wood, a preacher at Natural Bridge, introduced Methodism to the area, and the first church built was a Methodist Episcopalian one in 1849, at a cost of $500, according to Ernest Cook in the Times.
With its farms and a school, a blacksmith, and the Carter and Randall Butter Tub Factory, which produced more than 10,000 tubs of butter a year, according to historian Child, Woods Mills was a typical rural village.
In a 1935 letter to the Times, Ester White, a descendant of Jonathan Wood, and whose father owned a dairy farm, recalled a daily life revolving around school and church, ice cream socials, the spring sugaring season and winters of hauling ice from the river on horse-drawn sleighs.
Also in Wilna is the cemetery on the old Lake School-Gormley Road. Before Pine Camp expanded, these roads were major transportation routes for people going to church, conducting business and visiting family and friends; now they are designated as historic, and only military vehicles drive on them. The name of this cemetery is Derby-Hubbard, and like Sheepfold, Woods Mills and Pierce, it is on privately owned land. This means that the property still belongs to the towns.
Fort Drum mows these cemeteries, as well as those owned by the government, even though there is no written agreement with the towns to do so, Miss Schadock said.
In this cemetery, one veteran from the Revolutionary War is buried, four from the War of 1812 and one from the Civil War. His name was William Covey, a private from the 20th Regiment of the New York Cavalry who died in 1922. Other names on monuments include Biggs, Flint, Marrieta, Ford, Ambrose and Pennington, as well as the Hubbards and Derbys. Many of the people buried here were born in the mid-1800s and died in the early 1900s.
Visitors searching for these cemeteries often struggle With outdated military maps, compiled from information dating back to the 1940s. On one, the small print reads "Map Not Field Checked." This may mean many meters' difference between where the graveyard is supposed to be and Where it actually is. Even on newer maps finding roads and sites is difficult, and there are few signs in this wilderness of scrub oak and pine.
One of the most difficult to locate cemeteries is on Alexandria Road, in the heart of the old Pine Camp Reservation. Sections of the road are often under water from branches of the Black Creek, which crisscross it.An alternative approach, requires the visitor to leave his or her car, cross a wooden bridge that is closed to traffic and hike 3/4 of a mile along a gravel road where, in summer, black~yed Susans and red spiked hawkweed bloom. Guns boom nearby, startlmg the butterflies.
The graveyard comes as a surprise, a small parcel of land nestled against a sand dune. The scattered stones belong to Goodrich, Myers, Read, Maynard, Hinds and Cooper. In the Jefferson County Genealogical Room of Flower Memorial Library, this is listed as the Cooper Cemetery, Pine plains, Wilna. But those on Fort Drum refer to it simply as the Alexandria Road Cemetery.
What looks like a willow tree is engraved on many of the monuments. The one for William E. Cooper bears the inscription "My soul is filled with love," and "Meet me in Heaven." He was 13.
Except for the Myerses, husband and wife, no one in this cemetery seems to be related. Were they interrelated? Neighbors? Is this simply the surviving part of a much larger cemetery? There are no crossroads nearby, nothing but woods and dunes. Where did these people live? The closest settlement on the old maps is Reedville. What happened here that no one was interred after 1866? These ,people, remembered only by crumbling, fallen headstones, seem to have no recoverable history.
As easy to find as the Alexandria Road one is difficult is the Pierce Cemetery, right off the U.S. Military Highway, north of Fargo.
The last of the WI1na group, _ this well-maintained, still active cemetery is administered by the Pierce Cemetery Association. Unwilling to lose touch with its living, the association reaches out yearly with a newsletter and request for dues, said Stanley Pierce, one of the two Pierces whose names appear on the entry-gate plaque.
Originally from Vermont, the Pierce family came to New York as part of the general movement of people westward. They became farmers, and one of the early settlers gave the land, thought to be part of an Indian burial ground, for the cemetery. Besides the Pierces, there are Crowners, Fishers, Averys (one of whom was a Civil War veteran), Graveses, Ashcrafts, Grahams, and Gibbs.
Joanne Johnson is an assistant professor of English at Jefferson Community College, where she teaches courses in composition, and creative writing. She also is the editor of the college's literary journal, the Black River Review.
Sunday January 26,1997
By Joanne Johnson
Special to the Times
Scattered throughout Fort Drum are many old cemeterries, forlorn markers of a vanished past. Although now all within the military reservation, these cemeteries existed long before Fort Drum, before Camp Drum, before even Pine Camp. Their stories go back to the little villages of LeRaysville, Sterlingville, North Wilna, Woods Mills and Lewisburg, all of which disappeared forever with the 1941 expansion of the post.
In the Town of Diana About a half a mile south of Lewisburg, on a narrow gravel road that cuts through dense pine, lies the cemetery called Doyle-Mulvaney by those who work on Fort Drum.
But this used to be the parish cemetery of St. Patrick’s Church, which was built in 1888 in Lewisburg, according to the 4 River Valleys Historical Society Journal article in 1982 written by Marie F. Bean. The land for the cemetery was donated by Thomas and Lucy Nolan, who came from County Meath in Ireland. Parishioners from St. Henry's in Natural Bridge also used this burial ground, according to Glen Hawkin's "History of Natural Bridge." A few stones are carved with dates as early as 1818, but most are from the mid- to late 1800s.
Lewisburg, like the villages of LeRaysville, Sterlingville and Woods Mills, began with a sawmill in 1825. Later, when two Frenchmen built an iron furnace here, the village was called Louisburg (original spelling), after Louis Fannel, a French capitalist. In 1852 the entire iron works and community were bought by "Big Jim" Sterling for $10,000, and the name of the village was changed to Sterlingbush.'
"Big Jim" had big ideas to drain swamps and build roads, so he hired Irish laborers, many of whom had fled their homeland because of the potato famine. For this reason, the names in the St. Patrick's Cemetery are predominately Irish: O'Rourke, Taggart, Jarvis, Cain, Weeks, McDonald, Dundon, McTaggart. When the village was sold to the Jefferson Iron Co. in 1869, the name returned, with slightly altered spelling, to Lewisburg.
One cemetery that was recently "rediscovered" is off Fuller Road, which begins a couple of miles east of Antwerp at the Rockwell Creek Road, and runs northeast, skirting the perimeter of the reservation's Main Impact Area. A post Forester first recorded its coordinates in 1969. Seven years then elapsed before the real-property clerk wrote in a 1976 memo that he and the forester "actually triped over a headstone in the severe brush while looking for the cemetery."
At that time, they counted 11 headstones; but heard from area people that there may have been up to 35 burials in all there. This was possible, they thought, because of the "very noticable depressions in the center of the cemetery." However, the cemetery record at the Flower Memorial Library lists only 12 burials: two with the family name of Bacon, six with Fuller, three with Patton and one with Pomeroy. These date from 1846 to 1870.
Mistakenly identified as Freeman by Fort Drum, its historic name is the Bacon Farm Cemetery. In the early days the graveyard could probably be seen from Fuller Road, across the meadow to the west. But for almost two decades now, woods and thick brush have hidden it from view.
Only a few older, local people with friends or relatives buried there continued to find the graves. No one from Fort Drum had located the cemetery until this past fall, when an area behind one of the ranges was being cleared of unexploded shells. For Adam King, who had recently anived at the post to become its cultural resources program manager, this was a lucky opportunity to photograph the site and gather information on the gravestones for the first time in 20 years.
Another cemetery, though, remains elusive. Everts and Holcomb's 1878 "History of Jefferson County" states that there was a burying ground "located a short two miles from Antwerp village, on the Sterlingville (now Antwerp) Road, near the residence of J.M. Beaman, Esq." This land was donated by Ira Beaman, "whose remains are buried there, as are many members of the Beaman- Aldrich families."
This graveyard is so difficult to find that its very existence has been called into question. Mrs. Nancy Raymon,Antwerp town historian, has a letter written in 1969 by Antwerp native Mary Ruth Marney, who recalled that the cemetery was near a creek, on the "little yellow Beaman farm."
Cait Schadock, the National Environmental Protection Act coordinator at Fort Drum, however, found no evidence of this graveyard when she worked in the area from 1987-89, with the cultural-resource group of Louis Berger and Associates, her team covering hundreds of acres.
Still, sightings persist. Mrs. Raymon's son-in-law told her that he came across it on maneuvers about six years ago. At that time, he said, there were about a dozen stones and remnants of a metal fence. More recently, a friend, Capt. Robert Castelli, reported coming across the graveyard this past March while he was out in the field. He saw six monuments. Mrs. Raymon, however, has never found the cemetery, although she continues to look for it.
Why was it that the villages to which these cemeteries belonged were singled out for extinction when Pine Camp expanded? The answer to this question lies in the topography of one of the north county's most significant landmarks - the sandy stretches of Pine Plains.
"All you can raise on Pine Plains is hell, huckleberries and children," people used to joke, yet from the start, the area seemed perfectly suited to a military camp. Stripped of its Virgin pine timber by lumbering and fires, the remaining glacially deposited soil was sandy, barren and of little value, explained John Haddock in his "Growth of a Century."
When in 1906 the War Department began looking for land on which to conduct sum mer training of National Guard and regular Army troops, Philip Read, formerly a colonel at Madison Barracks, recommended the Pine Plains, wrote Ernest C. Gould in the 1967 Jefferson County Historical Society Bulletin. The first asking price was too high, so the Watertown Chamber of Commerce, together with land agents of New York Central Railroad, secured options on fewer acres for a lower price, and the government eventually paid about $6 per acre for 10,893 acres, according to Gould.
Congressman Charles L. Knapp of Lowville then introduced the appropriation bill, passed in 1909, that made Pine Camp a permanent summer training facility, thus earning him the name of "Father of Pine Plains," reported the Times article, "Camp Drum Observes 50th Anniversary."
Two thousand regular Army troops and 6,000 guardsmen under the command of Maj. Gen. Frederick D. Grant, son of Ulysses S., attended the first camp in 1908. According to the Times, among the earliest arrivals was a battalion of infantrymen who marched all the way from Buffalo with its ambulances and mule-drawn water wagons, averaging 16 to 25 miles a day. And a few days later, 69 guardsmen reached Watertown after a four-day walk from Syracuse, with the 24-mile stretch from Pulaski to Adams being made in "a heavy downpour of rain and over the muddiest roads imaginable."
Photographs in the Times show the first cantonment with dozens of low tents stretched across a field. The officers' tents were pitched at the top of a steep, sandy ridge, known as the Hogs Back, that followed part of the present-day Munn's Comer Road near the Wheeler-Sack Airfield. Early postcards show young men digging ditches above the caption, "Wanted: Healthy Young Men Not Afraid of Work." The soldiers, however, may have had other thoughts, coming into an area with no real roads, no buildings, and sleeping in what was Called "Tent City," while living on a "steady diet of liverwurst," as the Times reported.
Nevertheless, the camp was successful and repeated over the years. Eventually, the tents were put up on concrete slabs, concrete buildings were added, additional parcels of land acquired,and the cantonment was moved closer to Great Bend. Pine Camp was on its way.
Throughout the 1920s and '30s, regular Army and National Guard troops trained at Pine Camp. Military personnel, including Maj. Gen. Hugh A Drum, for whom the camp was renamed in 1951, were confidant that the natural topography of the Pine Camp territory " ..easily could be developed into one of the most practical Army training grounds in the country," reported a 1939 Times article.
But it was the threat of the World War 11 and the general concern for the country's military readiness that spurred the great expansion of 1940-41. Plans were made to establish a home for a new division, the 4th Armored Division in 1941, as well as training areas for the 45th Infantry and the 5th Armored Division, according to the pamphlet, "A Brief History of Pine Camp.”
About 1;000 acres of land over six townships began to be acquired by the Land Acquisition Board, located in the old Electric Building in Watertown, Times articles said.
Deeds had to be traced, land surveyed and appraised. and options secured before purchases could be made. Often, this was a time-consuming, frustrating process for all parties involved.
An 84,000-acre tract had to be vacated by Sept. 1, 1941, requiring 2,000 people from 525 area families to relocate. Three thousand buildings were to be removed, including 24 schools, six churches, and one post office. Ernest Cook commented that now "armored cars will rumble over the acres where the peace loving Quakers had their church." When the dust cleared, only the LeRay mansion remained intact.
Eliminated were the villages of LeRaysville, Sterlingville, Woods Mills, North WIlna and Lewisburg, as well as the small settlements of Slocumville, Reedville, Nauvoo, Spraguesville,East Antwerp And AIpina. Antwerp lost one third of its property taxes. LeRay lost a quarter of its area, Philadelphia a third. Part of Diana disappeared. The-Pine, Plains ceased to exist.
Pictures in the Times show piles of household goods in yards, and caravans of trucks carting away everything from couches to cattle. People moved to Adams, Mexico, Pulaski, Lowville, Harrisville, Oswego, even into the Mohawk Valley. For those who stayed in the area, the enlarged reservation functioned like a 107,000 acre "lake" to get around, necessitating major changes in their economic and social life.
Although some people welcomed the expansion and others didn’t no one could doubt the reality of the economic impact: the north country had landed a $20 million construction project, Eight hundred buildings, including 240 barracks,84 mess halls, 86 day rooms, 86 company storehouses, 99 recreation buildings, 27 officer quarters, a 41-station hospital, and miles and miles of new highways were built. The materials alone could have filled a 2,889-car train. In 10 months, $6,403,030 was-paid out in salaries to laborers, 1941 Times articles reported.
The United States was gearing up for World War 11. Pine Camp was gearing up for World War 11. Its cemeteries were not a priority. Everyone had a job to do, but no one's job included the cemeteries. And even if there had been a person, in charge of gathering information, it would have been extremely difficult to do so.
No records of the villages were transferred to the camp at the time of the expansion. None of the villages were incorporated. None had village clerks, librarians or historians. What information there was to gather, has been gathered informally by families like the Pierces, or individuals like Keitha Petersen, who has, over the last 40 years, accumulated more than 12 scrapbooks of clippings.
Then in 1966 the NationaI Historic Preservation Act was passed , and all federal agencies as well as federally funded actions, had to interpret how to comply with it. When the cultur al resource firm of Louis Berger and Assoc. began its work in 1985, one of the goals of its research, with respect to the villages of Fort Drum, was to provide the background information necessary for the nomination of these properties to the National Register of Historic Places and locational data for their continued protection under the evolving Historic Preservation Plan," according to Task Order 18, called the Village Mapping Program.
However, since researching the cemeteries is not part of the mission of Fort Drum, and because they are not military cemeteries, they were not included in this project. Today, the cemeteries fall under the jurisdiction of the Environmental Division, but they are still not a priority.
The division's first priority is to "survey . areas of proposed impact and identify new archaeological sites," according to Miss Schadock. But in 1993 she was able to obtain funds from a federal program to inventory the cemeteries and develop a database containing the names of the cemeteries, first and last names on gravestones, dates, epitaphs, if any, and the condition of the stones. Miss.Schadock uses this information to help people who have questions about where family members are buried.
In 1941 Brig. Gen. Irving J. Phillipson stood before a packed gymnasium in Philadelphia High School, answering questions about the proposed Camp Drum expansion.
"What will happen to our cemeteries?" one resident called out from the back.“The cemeteries on the military reservation will remain unmolested," the brigadier general promised.
And they have. Even though the expansion of Camp Drun meant the end to the Pine Plains and to 130 years of settlememt in the.area,the.cemeteries have remained almost unchanged, except for the stresses of time and weather, for the last 55 years.
Perhaps now we can look to the preservation of their histories as well.
Joanne Johnson is an assistant professor of English at Jefferson Community College, where she teaches courses in composition and creative writing. She also is the editor of the college's literary journal, the Black River Review.
Typical scenes of families evacuating the area to be acquired by Pine Camp are shown in these 1941 photos. From top: Mr. and Mrs. Maurice O'Connell, of the LeRaysville-Sterlingville Road prepare to move. Two youngsters dig up flowers near their home on the Same road. Eugene F. Conway, Bedlam Road, loads cattle on a truck in preparation for his move to Arsenal Street Road. Burt Bannister, loads a truck at the Hibbard farm, while Walter and Kent Hibbard, sons of Paul J. Hibbard, Bedlam Road, assist.
These are some old post cards from the early 1900's. The first two show Governor Charles E. Huges & General Grant and then a group of unidentified men playing cards.
These picture's were taken in the fall of 2007 at the entrance of Fort Drum.