Monday, September 16, 2019

Graves of Hanged Windmill Raiders

Most of the eleven Americans hanged in Kingston for their roles in the Battle of the Windmill were buried there. The British gave friends of Dorephus Abbey permission to ship his body to the Brookside Cemetery in Watertown, New York. The British denied Nils von Schoultz’s last wish that his body be shipped to Syracuse.

 He and the remaining nine hanged Hunters had their last remains interred in a cemetery on Ordnance Street, then on the edge of Kingston. Called the Upper Burying Ground, it was shared by local churches and the military.

The Upper Burying Ground filled to capacity by the 1860s and became neglected and vandalized. Families and congregations transferred coffins to newer cemeteries. Engulfed by the growing town, the cemetery officially closed in the 1890s and was plowed over. It is now McBurney Park, unofficially known in Kingston as Skeleton Park.

For eight executed American buried there, their grave markers disappeared long ago and their skeletons lie somewhere in the park. Thanks to a Kingston tavern keeper, two survived. In 1862, Alexander Cicolari, an Italian Canadian born in Quebec who lived near the cemetery, had the bodies of von Schoultz and Woodruff moved to his family plot in Kingston’s St. Mary’s Cemetery.

Why? At sixteen, Cicolari witnessed the hanging of von Schoultz and decided to honor his courage. The markers still exist.

Graves of Woodruff and von Schoultz.

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