A rededication ceremony to honor the grave of Civil War Veteran and Medal of Honor recipient, David L. Bass was held at the abandoned Rural Grove (Wilcox) Cemetery in May.
Bass’ grave was stumbled upon by Memorial Project Coordinator and Member of the Military Order of the Voodoo Association, Michael Sportello a year and a half ago. Sportello then contacted Robin Prinzhorn, President of the New York State Historic Cemetery Preservation Society.
Prinzhorn said she had already been working on the cemetery when she received a call from Sportello.
“The memorial was his idea and with the help of a grant and volunteers it was put together in the past couple of months,” stated Prinzhorn.
With the help of Judith H. Reilly, Executive Director of Compeer of the Mohawk Valley, Sportello applied for a grant from Home Depot to fund the project. Home Depot gave the group a grant for $3,500 to help construct the memorial. Once the group was given funding they were able to work on clearing the wooded area and uncover the hidden graves. Volunteers helped to reset stones, clear trees, and build the Navy inspired memorial.
During the event the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church Cemetery Board prohibited unauthorized vehicles from entering the cemetery. Although the Holy Trinity Church does not own the Rural Groove cemetery, the church does own the Holy Trinity Church Cemetery which is adjacent to Rural Grove.
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church Cemetery Board Chairman Walt Lallier stated, “we blocked off the entry because the party or parties involved in honoring the Civil War Veteran buried in the Rural Groove Cemetery did not honor our property rights and we wanted to avoid any further damage.”
Prior to the ceremony, the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church Cemetery board claimed a crushed stone road was built on the property without formal permission. The church also believes the roadway was built over several Holy Trinity Cemetery grave sites. Lallier said the parties involved have not approached the church regarding the restoration of the cemetery and grave sites. In order for a party to make property adjustments to the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church Cemetery a request must be made and granted permission in writing by the church. Lallier said the party responsible for the damage made no such requests.
“We’re not against what they are doing,” Lallier added. “I think it’s great that they’ve fixed up the Rural Grove cemetery and held the rededication ceremony, we’re just asking for our rights to be respected.”
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church Pastor Joe Famulare said, “a lot of rumors have been going around and people are being misquoted. We’re not the bad guys, we just want to be fair to others and we want others to be fair to us.”
Page 2 of 2 - Famulare added, “at this point we’re just trying clarify our side of the story, protect our property, and find the party or parties responsible for the damage.”
Currently the Little Falls Police Department is investigating who is responsible for the damage. Upon finding the responsible party, the church hopes to receive retribution for property damage and develop a mutually agreed upon plan for the restoration of the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church Cemetery.