Haines Falls Cemetery

Haines Falls Cemetery

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Back at the end of September, David and I went camping around the North/South Lake in the Catskills. On the road leading to the campground, I spotted an old church and graveyard and I made sure to bring it up the next day as we were leaving. David knows me well enough by now to know when I begin a sentence with "If we have time..." that I have a stop in mind, and although I usually make empty promises to be quick, this really was a quick stop (at least I thought it was).

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The Haines Falls Cemetery is located behind the Kaaterskill United Methodist Church on North Lake Road in Haines Falls, NY. A plaque dedicated by the Haines Family Association mentions five ancestors and their families who "explored, settled and helped develop the mountaintop area beginning in the 1700s. They were a hardy breed: farmers, foresters, tanners, hunters, trappers and homemakers who helped tame this beautiful, but wild land."

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I could tell from the road that the graveyard was old and it's small (I found online records for 28 graves) but has some really lovely stones. I love stones covered in lichen and moss, and fallen leaves always help to make any burial ground just a little bit spookier.

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At first I didn't see anything too memorable in this cemetery, but then I saw this monument, erected "In memory of those who lost their lives in Twilight Inn Fire, July 14, 1925" and I knew I had to know more about this tragedy. From a NY Times article published on the day of the fire, it's stated that 12 people were confirmed dead and eight were still missing. Eleven of those bodies were charred so badly that identification was impossible. The fire began in the middle of the night, in the servants' wing of the hotel, possibly due to a lighted cigarette. There were so many casualties, it's suspected, because guests scrambled to take their belongings with them as they escaped.

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Oh, and this cemetery also had a stone that just simply says "Allie." My full name is Alexandra, but I've been called Allie as long as I can remember, and I've never seen a headstone that hit so close to home. No last name, no birth or death dates, no epitaph, just my name. I don't intend to be buried, or ever have a headstone—and if I did it would hopefully at least have a few skulls on it— but I think it's obvious why I felt the pull of this little cemetery as soon as I saw it.

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