PLATTSBURGH — The 1838 gravestone of the Rev. Frederick Halsey is in danger of deteriorating beyond repair, and an effort has been launched to raise funds to fix it.
The former pioneer pastor, educator and chaplain is laid to rest in the oldest section of Plattsburgh’s Riverside Cemetery; the side walls of his horizontal, raised-slab grave are falling, according to a press release issued by some local historians.
Without repair, they say, the slab itself will soon break.
ESTABLISHED SCHOOL, CHURCH
Halsey came to Plattsburgh from Long Island in August 1795 in response to an invitation from Judge Thomas Tredwell asking him to organize a school in the fledgling community.
He had two goals upon his arrival. The first, to create the first Presbyterian church in Clinton County, had humble beginnings, as the faithful met in a blockhouse on Cumberland Avenue. On Oct. 1, 1797, the First Presbyterian Church of Plattsburgh was formally organized Oct 1, 1797.
His second aim was to establish the school, which opened near his home in 1798. Halsey went on to serve as a chaplain to the 8th Regiment of Militia organized by Col. Thomas Miller, a neighbor, during the War of 1812.
His stone house still stands on Tom Miller Road, 300 feet west of “Halsey’s Corner,” site of a bloody skirmish with the advancing British army on Sept. 6, 1814.
WILL SEEK GRANT
It is hoped, said retired City of Plattsburgh Historian Jim Bailey and War of 1812 Museum Manager Tammy Rock in the release, that Halsey’s stone can be repaired in time for Battle of Plattsburgh bicentennial events in 1814.
The deteriorating marker is within sight of the gravestone of British Naval Commander Downie, where public memorial services are held every September.
Two estimates of about $5,000 have been received from experienced cemetery contractors, the release said.
“We are also excited to learn that a 1-to-1 matching grant is available from the National DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) organization to help spearhead this project.”
The Battle of Plattsburgh Association will be applying for that funding.
Individuals and organizations are invited to help raise the grant-match amount of $2,500 by Feb. 1.
“Presbyterians, educators, veterans, history buffs — all interested in preserving our Clinton County history — are invited to contribute to the Rev. Halsey Grave Restoration Fund in the few weeks ahead so that work can be done in the spring,” the release said.
HOW TO HELP
To contribute to the Rev. Halsey Grave Restoration Fund, make out checks in any amount to: The Battle of Plattsburgh Association, marked "for Halsey grave restoration," and mail or take them to 31 Washington Road, Plattsburgh, N.Y. 12903.
The association's War of 1812 Museum is open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Visa, MasterCard, and Discover Credit Cards may also be used by phoning 566-1814.
The association is a registered 501-C-3 nonprofit organization in New York state, so receipts will be issued for all donations.