Carthage library receives books regarding Fort Drum cemeteries

Terry Heagle, retired Jefferson Community College history teacher, Sheila Prospero, town of Wilna interim historian, and Laurie Rush look at the collection of books pertaining to the 13 cemeteries on Fort Drum. Provided photo

CARTHAGE — The Carthage Free Library Heritage Room recently received the donation of a valuable resource for genealogy.

Dr. Laurie Rush, Fort Drum cultural resources manager, presented the organization with a collection of books pertaining to the 13 cemeteries located on Fort Drum.

“One of the jobs our researchers are called upon to do is locating the final resting places of relatives for people both local and from a distance,” said Lynn M. Thornton, town of Champion and village of Carthage historian. “This gives us one more wonderful tool.”

The public will be able to use these references during Heritage Room hours — 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays — and by appointment.

The cemeteries outside the Fort Drum cantonment area include the Alexandria Road Cemetery, Fuller Road Cemetery, Gates Cemetery, Lake School Road Cemetery, Lewisburg Cemetery, Pierce Cemetery, World War II Cemetery, Savage-Varley Cemetery, Sheepfold Cemetery and Woods Mill Cemetery.

These will be accessible on Labor Day without pre-coordination with Range Control or a visitors pass.

Locations on post include the Cooper Cemetery, LeRay Mansion Child Cemetery and Quaker Cemetery. Passes are issued at the Visitor Control Center at the Lt. Gen. Paul Cerjan Gate.

All Fort Drum cemeteries are annually open to the public on Memorial Day and occasionally on Labor Day. Those wishing to access these cemeteries during the rest of the year are directed to contact the Cultural Resources Section of the Environmental Division, Department of Public Works.

The areas where the cemeteries are located had contained several villages — now referred to as The Lost Villages. According to Mrs. Thornton, in 1941 the United States Army faced the need for additional training areas and Fort Drum Pine Plains was the area chosen for expansion.

At only 17,000 acres, the post needed additional space for training the units stationed there.

On Labor Day, Sept. 1, 1941, the army took over 84,000 acres, displacing north country families and eliminating the villages of LaRaysville, Sterlingville, Lewisburg, North Wilna and Woods Mills, as well as smaller settlements of Slocumville, Reedville, Nauvoo, Spragueville, East Antwerp and Alpina. East Antwerp lost one-third of its property taxes. Leray lost a quarter, Philadelphia a third, and part of Diana disappeared altogether.

The Heritage Room has an expansion collection of local reference material and a volunteer staff that can help with research. The organization welcomes new volunteers who will be trained to use the reference tools.

For more information or to volunteer, contact the Carthage Free Library by calling 315-493-2620 or stopping by 412 Budd St.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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