In an effort to get information out to all, I want to put into place, in this site, some of the research I have found. Walt Whitman often visited the site of both the Whitmans and Velsor Cemeteries. I have always loved the prose from him concerning the Velsor Cemetery contained in Specimen Days "the burial hill of the Van Velsors, near Cold Spring, the most significant depository of the dead that could be imagined without the slightest help from art, but far ahead of it, soil sterile, a mostly bare plateau-flat of half an acre, the top of a hill, brush and well-grown trees and dense woods bordering all around, very primitive, secluded, no visitors, no road.....
I have been down Stillwell Lane. It is truly beautiful. The homes that line the street are gorgeous. The cemetery is now located on private property and difficult to find. Stillwell Lane was called Velsor-Stilwell Lane. According to a newspaper article taken from the "Nassau Island News" Dec 11, 1933 "Forgotten Road Discovered, Is Put in Use Again; Nassau Idle Given Jobs Recondinioning Ir." by Ned Pains. It reads:
Abandoned, nearly forgotten for half its 200 years existence, the old Velsor-Stillwell road has recently been repaired by work relief labor and the gates that barred its entrance removed.
Hardly more than a mile long, the road, formerly known as "The Lane", runs rather pointlessly now between the west side of the Syosset Cold Spring Road and the north side of the county highway between Cold Spring and Woodbury.
It was built by John Velsor and Thomas Stillwell so long ago that 84 year old William Velsor, great-grandson of the road-builder, does not remember having heard anyone say when it was built, He guesses 200 years. The road served to connect the farms of Velsor and Stillwell at either at either end.
No map filed
Supervisor Harry Tappen says that there never was any filed map of the road, which was true in many cases of the wagon paths cleared across farm lands for convenience of transportation without any anticipation of later developments into traffic-ridden highways.
About 1850, Velsor says, the Long Island Railroad built a spur line from Syosset to Huntington, and part of it was built along the roadbed of his great-grandfather's line". The railroad line, however, was never used to any great extent and soon abandoned. Some time later the road was rebuilt, this time on top of the railroad bed. The embankment, in some places as high as 60 feet, is still plainly visible, coming out of the woods to join the road and then disappearing off toward Hunitghton at the road's conclusion.
Regarded as Private
It has always been regarded by the various owners of the property through which it ran as private. In fact, gates were erected at its ends about 35 years ago, according to affidavits taken in the suit for ownership which was to follow. The right of way was included in a sale of property in 1802 from John Velsor Sr. to Divine Hewlett.
Twelve years ago, however, when Supervisor Tappen was Superintendaent of Highways, the town started suit to have the road declared abandoned and within the jurisdiction of the town. Evidence was submitted to show town funds had been used to keep the road in repair, and after 11 years in litigation, opposed principally by Rosalie Jones, present property owner, the road was declared a public highway, and the town started to improve it.
This history of the road is the most accepted, confirmed as it is by the great-grandson of the original builder, but there is another theory. That is that it was used as part of the stagecoach road along the North Shore, which was used largely in the construction of Northern Boulevard. The theory holds that this stretch of raod was part of the stagecoach line which was left stranded out in the woods when Northern Boulevard adopted a different course.
Whatever the explantaion, there it is. New sand and widening operation show evidence of recent reconstruction, but the old railroad enbankment, now overgrown with sizable trees, deep cuts through the hills, and a green, moss-covered barrel half sun in the ground where a spring seeps up, bear testimony to work expended a century or more ago.
And while delivery trucks race by its two extremities, the road itsel wnaders off between a double line of gnarled trees whose shade fell upon the creaking wagons of John Velso and Thomas Stillwell when they traveled their road in the 1700's.
That is the conclusion of the article.
Also should be noted that during the revolutionary war British soldiers, encamped on Long Island used the headstones for ovens and hearths etc. They were lost forever. Nearly the same scenario happened again during the Civil War with the Velsor cemetery.
The listing I have from the cemetery is as follows:
Charles Velsor, d. Mar. 6 1896 age 82 years 10m 16d
Susan L., wife of Charles Velsor, d. Aug 23 1879 at 62y. 7m. 12d
In memory of Sarah E., wife of Thomas D. Carpenter and daughter of Charles and Susan L. Velsor, d. Dec 4 1842 ae 3y 8d.
Thomas Wesley, son of Charles and Susan L. Velsor, d. Nov 16, 1860 ae 17y 3m 27d
Charles E., son of Charles and Susan L. Velsor, d. Nov 16, 1860 ae 17y. 3m 27d
Thomas Velsor, d Jan 16, 1864 ae 74y. 9m. 4d.
Sarah, wife of Thomas Velsor, d. Mar. 12, 1867 ae 77y. 9m. 11d.
In memory of Sarah E., dau of Thomas and Sarah Velsor, b. Sept 21 1835, d may 29, 1836
Naomy, wife of Cornelius Velsor, d. Feb. 15, 1826 ae 63y 1m 23d
Cornelius Velsor is buried nest to his wife under a plain fieldstone
In memory of Teyen W. Velsor. Has departed this life Jan 15 1826 ae 52y 5m 28d
In memory of Mary (Tappen), wife of George Velsor d. Nov 17, 1870 aged 27y 7m 15d
In memory of George W. Velsor, son of George and Mary Velsor, d 18--
In Loving memory of W. Sherman Velsor, b. Sept 10 1868, d. June 9, 1894
Maron, wife of John Velsor, d. Apr 7, 1821 in the 55 year of her age
Sarah E., wife of John D Velsor and dau. of Edgar Harriet Hewlett d. Aug 13, 1857 ae 17y 1m 9d.
Infant son of John and Sarah Velsor
James Henry, son of Stephen died May 6, 1831 (faded, nearly illeg.)
Ada H., dau of Thomas D. and Sarah E Carpenter, d. June 22, 1865 ae 1 y. 1m. 8d
John, son of John and Maron (Velsor) Perkins, d. May 21, 1828 ae 1y 1m 8d
I did not get these epitaths personally, but rather from a list previously submitted by another researcher.
I hope this helps someone out there.
Mary Ann Crain
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