Long Island's Hidden Past: Cold Spring Harbor's forgotten graveyard
On a wooded hillside overlooking Cold Spring Harbor, jagged stones jut out of the dirt and snow, marking nameless graves.
"There was an African-American community in Cold Spring Harbor in the early-to-mid 19th century. That is probably who is buried there," says Huntington Town Historian Robert Hughes.
He says the forgotten graveyard was discovered recently when a woman knocked on the door of St. John's Episcopal Church in Cold Spring Harbor. She was looking for the burial ground of her ancestors.
Listen to the Long Island's Hidden Past Podcast on the forgotten burial grounds near St. John's Episcopal Church:
Rev. Gideon Pollack says he knew somewhere on the church property there was a cemetery for servants and slaves who worked for the prominent Jones family. After searching the woods, the forgotten burial site was found.
"I was embarrassed by the level of neglect and amazing amount of trash," says Pollack.
The trash was removed from the sacred ground and a story of Cold Spring Harbor's past was revealed.
"The people who were buried in this cemetery are the ones who did the hard work," says Hughes. "Who worked on the whale ships, worked on the docks."
In the center of the hilltop graveyard is a mound of stones. Historians believe a Native American may have been buried there.
"Unfortunately, the people are unknown to us now, but hopefully with more research and input from people, who may have ancestors who are buried here, will come forward and put some names to these stones," says Hughes.