Annual Brookside Cemetery tour celebrates its history

Published: Oct. 22, 2022 at 6:08 PM EDT
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TOWN OF WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) -If you have a hankering for history, Brookside Cemetery just outside Watertown may catch your interest.

On Saturday, the Jefferson County Historical Society held its annual tour of Watertown’s Brookside Cemetery.

Guests both on foot and in cars were given a guided tour of the grounds.

Society officials say the tour was the perfect way to dive into local history.

“People get a chance to discover history in the local area and people they didn’t know about and find their final resting places,” said Peg Bootie, Chair, Jefferson County Historical Society.

To name a few, guests were able to visit the grave of Colonel George Walton Flower, Watertown’s first mayor.

Dialing back the clock even further, guests got to see the worn headstone of Henry Coffeen, the first settler to ever call Watertown home.

“It’s people like that, that really make it interesting to know how Watertown came to be what it is today,” said Lisa Ruggiero, historical presenter

Eventually, tour groups reached the mausoleum of Henry Keep.

A man whose life is a true rags to riches story.

“So, Henry Keep started out living in the poor house in Jefferson County. He ended his life on Wall Street with many, many millions of dollars in his pocket. He left that to the family and community,” said Dr. Jason White, historical presenter.

Towards the end of the tour, guests made their way here to Brookside’s chapel.

This year marks the first time in the history of the tour guests have been allowed inside.

“The purpose of this chapel was so the community had a free place to come in, have ceremonies, worship, sit in solitude, pray, whatever they needed to do while they were here, said Suzie Renzi-Falge, Vice President, Jefferson County Historical Society.

According to the historical society, plans are currently in the works to restore the chapel back to its original state so it can remain open year-round.