A new historical marker, which was awarded to the Town of North Hempstead by the William G. Pomeroy Foundation following a grant application by Town Historian Howard Kroplick last year, was unveiled at the Monfort Cemetery in Port Washington on May 21 by Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth, Councilwoman Dina De Giorgio, Clerk Wayne Wink, Kroplick and the descendants of the Monfort family.
“Our town is full of so much rich history and it’s important to commemorate and preserve that history, which is what we’re continuing to do today” said Bosworth. “When you think of the illustrious patriots that are actually buried here, we’re going to be preserving their legacy, the legacy of the revolutionary, whose work really led to the Town of North Hempstead. I’d like to thank the William G. Pomeroy Foundation for providing us with that marker. I think it’s interesting people think it’s [done by] New York State, but they haven’t been doing that for quite some time and the Pomeroy Foundation has taken up that goal. It’s an honor to have this great responsibility to make sure this is preserved in a way that’s dignified, so that all who pass by here, especially our young students going to Schreiber High School, will have a sense of the history of this town.”
Bosworth also thanked Kroplick for his work and grant writer Thomas Devaney for his collaboration with Kroplick.
“These are names that aren’t just Port Washington names,” said Bosworth. “You have the Onderdonk house and Onderdonk street in Manhasset, Schenck street in Great Neck. These were families who had an amazing influence throughout our town.”
“I want to thank Supervisor Bosworth for making preserving history a priority,” added De Giorgio. “I think it’s important that the town lead by example. It’s important to show the community that we remember where we came from as we are moving forward.”
The cemetery was donated to the town by the Monfort family in 1984, declared a town landmark on July 23, 1985, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.
“We all, in our family, have indicated how great it looks,” said Pam Monfort. “It never looked so great. After Sandy, this cemetery was a disaster and [the town] really worked very hard and they are still working hard. Thank you to the Town of North Hempstead, thank you supervisor, thank you Howard, on behalf of our family. And my aunt, Martha M. Knowles is the only survivor of the house that used to be in the parking lot. Ninety-nine and still going strong. My cousins have great memories of the whole area, the house, the barn, the whole acreage. I know that years ago our grandfather sold property to the Port Washington School District. There is a lot of history here that we’re so very thankful the town has recognized and has continued to grow.”
The site is the final resting place of Revolutionary War patriots and signers of the 1775 Declaration of Independence from loyalist Hempstead including Adrian and Petrus (Peter) Onderdonck, Thomas Dodge and Martin Schenck. With 154 internments from 1737 to 1892, the site includes many notable gravesites including Adrian Onderdonck (1726-1794), who was also the first supervisor of North Hempstead (1784-1786), Dodge (1721-1789), an officer in the American militia, Schenck (1740-1793), former treasurer of Queens County, Hendrick Onderdonk (1724-1809), owner of the first paper mill in New York State and the Roslyn Grist Mill, Andrew Onderdonk (1730-1793) a New York State Senator (1796-1797) who was elected over future Vice President Aaron Burr, Petrus (Peter) Onderdonk (1730-1793), an officer in the American militia, Henry J. Onderdonk (1804-1886), a 19th century Long Island historian and Andries Hegeman (1739-1807), a town official including Overseer of Roads.
“One of the projects that we’re going to do right here is a gravestone restoration workshop,” said Kroplick, explaining a future initiative the town will take to preserve the cemetery. “We’re going to bring in one of the world’s experts on gravestone restoration and as you can see, some of the headstones are down. We’re going to hopefully over time bring them upright and learn how to clean the headstones and footstones.”