2nd Oakwood Cemetery Tour: A Walk Through Time With Islip and Bay Shore's Famous and Infamous Hosted by the Historical Society of Islip Hamlet and the Bay Shore Historical Society
On Sunday, June 13th, both Historical Society's hosted a tour of Oakwood Cemetery, at the Corner of Moffitt Blvd. and Brentwood Road. Close to 300 people attended.
The Superintendent of the cemetery, Joe Nolan, gave a history of the cemetery and volunteers and relatives (names in parenthesis) brought these famous and infamous people's stories to life as shown in the following video and photos.
Mortimer Ruggles(Joe Nolan) came from a military family and was a West Point graduate who joined the Confederacy. Days after Lincoln's assassination and Lee's surrender, Ruggles was traveling with others and came upon 2 men needing assistance; one was John Wilkes Booth. He was sent to prison for aiding him but released soon after. He moved to New York and became a businessman.
George Hanford Burr(great-great-great granddaughter Heather Giambolvo) was born and raised in Islip. He lived here with his wife and 5 children. He and Selah Howell owned a successful business operating an oyster sloop. He went to the city to seek additional crewmen; one was Albert Hicks. One night, at sea, Hicks attacked all on board, killed them, and threw their bodies overboard. Hicks was eventually captured and was hung, the last person in NYS to be hung for piracy. Though Burr isn't buried here, his family put up a marker to commemorate his life.
Carrie B. Cherveny(great-granddaughter Dawn Callaway) was born in Czechoslovakia and traveled with her parents, when she was 16, to America. The family eventually settled in Islip. She and her husband, John, raised their 13 children here. He worked at the Bayard Cutting Estate and she, at times, at the Scully Estate. All their children had jobs in and around the Islip area.
Mamie Streeter Holmes(her daughter Mary Reid) lived to age 104 and was buried at Oakwood 2 years ago. She was born in North Carolina and had 3 daughters and a son. At age 32, they moved to NY hearing that there were better opportunities 'up north'. They learned there was an African American community in Bay Shore and so moved to that community. Mamie worked as a therapist assistant at Pilgrim State Hospital and was very active in her church and community.
Henry Leonard Crum(Rob Finnegan) lived in Islip from 1813 with his wife and 2 children. In the spring of 1782 he volunteered as a "Minuteman" with the Bergen County Militia; though never in a battle there were frequent skirmished with the British. After the war and until he moved to Islip, he lived in NYC working as a wood inspector. In 1834 he applied for a pension as a Revolutionary War vet and was awarded a pension of $29.20 every 6 months for his 8 months, 22 days of service.
Anning Moubray(Joseph Guadagno) is a descendant of John Moubray, who migrated from Southampton to Islip in 1695 with his grandmother. Queen Anne granted his father a patent in 1708 that is now Bay Shore. He was born on the family homestead on Awixa Creek. During the Revolutionary War, he was appointed Ensign under Capt. Benajah Strong. Unfortunately, he and others were subject to British martial law until 1783 when they finally got their independence.
Dunbar Burchell Adams(Greg Hancock) was laid to rest in the family's mausoleum over 80 years ago. However, on Memorial Day Weekend 2009, robbers broke in and absconded with his skeletal remains, which, to date, have yet to be found. Adams' family, like other NYC families, summered on Suffolk's south shore; their estate, on Awixa Pond, was named "Woodlea". The family's legacy is the chewing gum and confectionary business (Black Jack, Tutti Fruitti, Chiclets, Certs, Clorets and Trident).
Leander Jeffrey(John White) spent 70 years as a mariner and was part of the "Islip Crowd" of America's Cup captains who defended the Cup. He was part of 5 successful Cup defenses. He and his wife, Marietta, lived on Smith Avenue in Bay Shore where they raised their 4 children. He captained the yacht "Vigilant" and set the world record of 14 days, 8 hours in crossing the Atlantic Ocean from Sandy Hook to Ireland. During the Spanish-American War he was Commander of the Army Transport ship, transporting soldiers and supplies from Puerto Rico to Cuba. He became captain of a steamship that logged 75,000 miles over a 12-year period, including a lengthy trip down the Amazon.
Cynthia Hawkins(Christine Scibelli) was married to Capt. Frederick Hawkins, a successful captain and businessman. Unfortunately, he died at age 44 and left her to raise their 2 children, Asbury and Grace. Asbury spent his time carousing and drinking. He wanted to marry a German servant girl; Cynthia vehemently objected. On a ruse to take her to visit her sick sister, Asbury, in a rage, both shot and beat his mother and left her on the side of the road (where the cemetery runs along Brentwood Rd.). He was tried and sentenced to hang, one of the last people to hang in Suffolk.
Abraham Gardiner Thompson M.D.(George Munkenbeck) parents and grandparents were born, and buried, at Sagtikos Manor. He attended Columbia College and Medical School and spent 2 years in Paris enhancing his surgical skills. He was actively involved in civic, profession, political and religious life in Suffolk County and Islip Town. He was elected to 2 terms in the NYS Assembly. He and his wife, Elizabeth (Strong) had 6 children, 4 predeceasing them. He was active in St. Mark's Episcopal Church and, eventually, appointed as a Vestry. In 1883 it was requested that he develop the Islip Town Seal.
Phoebe and Frederick Wright (Jean Marie Reiszl and Chris Reiszl) raised their 5 children on Monell Avenue in a house that still stands today. During the Civil War, Frederick and their 2 sons joined Company B of the 2nd NY Cavalry. Frederick was a wheelwright by trade, often assigned as a physicians orderly, supply train guard or hospital cook. They regularly exchanged correspondence throughout the war. Both Frederick Sr. and Jr. were involved in a number of engagements as well as the battles of Fredericksburg and Petersburg. Their son, Lee, eventually fell ill and, eventually, passed. Phoebe kept her letters from Frederick and their great-great grandchildren donated them to the Historical Society of Islip Hamlet soon after the 2019 cemetery tour.