Vandalized cemetery repaired, history kept alive

Updated: Apr. 21, 2021 at 3:30 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Repairs have been made to the vandalized headstones in Theresa’s Oakwood Cemetery.

When we visited on March 30, we many of the grave markers pushed over.

We went back on Wednesday to find the stones reset into their proper positions.

The work was done free of charge by crews from A. Cozzi Monuments in Watertown.

While we were visiting, we realized the importance of this small cemetery thanks to town of Theresa historian Timothy Minnick, who gave us a tour.

“From the outside you know it’s just a cemetery, but here Governor Flower’s parents are buried there in the front of the cemetery, they were early Theresa founders,” he said.

Minnick is talking about a tall monument, the resting place for Nathan and Mary Ann Flower, parents of former Governor Roswell P. Flower.

Also buried there is William D. Chapman, a famed fishing lure inventor.

And the list goes on.

“There are Civil War veterans, Spanish American War veterans, World War I, World War II, Korean War veterans, Vietnam veterans. Historically, it’s pretty significant,” said Minnick.

The cemetery has even become the designated spot for a legend known as “Schule Bell”, placed next to the Civil War monument made by August Kissel, who would have known the legend.

As it’s told in the present day, three soldiers from Theresa took a bell from a derailed Confederate train and sent it back in a coffin to use in the school house.

“The people met the train. They cried, ‘Here’s Schule Bell,’ spelled Schule, the German spelling, and once the train pulled away, they ripped it open and the school had a new bell,” said Minnick.

All of this history being reasons that Minnick wanted to prioritize restoring the vandalized headstones when he found out about it

“I think it’s incredible peace of mind. You know, I mean here it is, it’s a cemetery, it’s back to normal. Let’s move forward. Let’s find the son of a seacook that did it, but let’s move forward and be a community again,” said Minnick.

A chance to restore the history that means so much to so many.

Copyright 2021 WWNY. All rights reserved.