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Clean-up for Historic Townsend Cemetery in East Hills is Saturday

The cemetery's burying ground is in the Town of North Hempstead; access to the cemetery is in the Town of Oyster Bay.

A total of 34 people were buried in the Townsend Cemetery from 1790 to 1894, including several of the first families who settled on Long Island. Credit: Town of North Hempstead
A total of 34 people were buried in the Townsend Cemetery from 1790 to 1894, including several of the first families who settled on Long Island. Credit: Town of North Hempstead

A community clean-up for the historic Townsend Cemetery in East Hills is scheduled for Saturday at 10 a.m. 

The cemetery is the final resting place for some of Long Island's first settlers. Besides the Willis and Townsend families, other families buried there include the Horsfields, Jacksons and Boerems, according to North Hempstead Historian Howard Kroplick. A total of 34 people were buried there from 1790 to 1894.

The cemetery contains nine known headstones and two footstones, which are currently visible.  It is now being used  as a drop off for landscaping debris, according to the Town of North Hempstead.

North Hempstead recently received a $40,000 FEMA grant to assist with the clean-up and restoration of the cemetery, a private burying ground, on what was formerly the Willis Family farm.

The cemetery and its access road off of Northern Boulevard have been abandoned since the early 1900s.

The cemetery sits on two townships. The burying ground is in the Town of North Hempstead and access to the cemetery is in the Town of Oyster Bay.

When the area was annexed by East Hills in 1961, the land was cleaned and fenced off by the village. However, the property has not been maintained for more than 50 years due to its unknown ownership. In recent years, access to the cemetery has been blocked from its North Hempstead Turnpike entrance by overgrown brush trees. According to New York State law, both towns are responsible for the care and maintenance of the abandoned cemetery.

In April 2014, a walking path was created by Kroplick.

Volunteers wishing to take part in the cleanup should meet at the Northern Boulevard entrance. Cars should park on Cotillion Court, approximately one-half mile east of Glen Cove Road.

For more information about the clean-up, call 311.
Tony Patrick May 02, 2014 at 09:19 AM
since this was Port Washington patch i thought this was the cemetery near the high school. but glad someone is looking after it.
Arguendo May 02, 2014 at 11:18 AM
Pardon me but what sort of pork causes this "emergency" to qualify for a FEMA grant? "North Hempstead recently received a $40,000 FEMA grant to assist with the clean-up and restoration of the cemetery, a private burying ground, on what was formerly the Willis Family farm." Just another example of government spending at its worst?
Howard Kroplick May 05, 2014 at 06:36 PM
Arguendo, as Benjamin Franklin once said "Show me your burial grounds and I'll show you a measure of the civility of a community." According to New York State laws, towns have the legal responsibility to maintain abandoned cemeteries and keep them safe. In the case of the historic Townsend Cemetery, access to the burying grounds was impossible due to downed trees as a result of Superstorm Sandy. Moreover, several of the trees were dangerously hanging over private property. Last Saturday, 26 volunteers did an amazing job to clean the burying grounds. I hope next time you will be able to join us. Howard Kroplick Town Historian, Town of North Hempstead
Arguendo May 06, 2014 at 06:41 AM
"Historical" or not, a $40,000 "volunteer" example of a pathetic abuse of process. Trees overhanging private property are the private property-owner's responsibility to trim or to notice the tree owner against in writing, in advance; or the private property owner's responsibility to dispatch, if fallen without warning on private property. If the trees have been there for 18 months since a storm, let alone 50 years since last maintenance by Town of Oyster Bay, they hardly qualify as an "emergency". This is pure pork, a favor to the private property owners, styled as "emergency", that should in no way qualify for a FEMA grant. Just another example of government spending at its worst. The access, the target of "emergency" maintenance, isn't even in Town of North Hempstead. Add it to Kaiman's blll of charges, which are becoming lengthier by the month.

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