- Grant Recipient
- 245 E. Main St., Port Jervis, NY
- 41.361504, -74.685728
Minisink Valley Historical Society
Founded by Dr. John Conkling, Laurel Grove Cemetery was incorporated in September of 1855. The grounds were designed by Howard Daniels and B.F. Hathaway.
Ruttenber’s History of Orange County (1881) records John Conkling as the owner of the land. Although a “legal organization was effected, and a joint arrangement made between him and the board of trustees” as it pertained to the sale of lots, “burial purposes” remained under his management at the time of the publication. In the County history the name itself apparently takes it origins from the “original thick, tangled grove of rhododendrons and a small species of laurel that covered the tract. In some parts this has not been cut away entirely.” Consisting of about 30 acres, the author observes as a “marked peculiarity” the cemetery’s exclusive use of evergreens for “adornment, both in the saving of the original forest-trees and in the setting out and cultivation of others.” In fact, at the time of the publication, the only two remaining deciduous trees were remarked upon as well as the Cemetery board’s intentions to remove them. The County history adds that “[in] closely cultivated portions there are some fine specimens of trimming in peculiar forms, attracting special attention of visitors.”
Additionally, Laurel Grove history from the cemetery’s website describes 14,000 burials in a beautiful, park-like setting, the impressive monuments and mausoleums are a testament to the many prominent citizens who made it their final resting place. Laurel Grove was created during a time when cemeteries were not only a final resting place, but a place where the citizens could take a long walk or enjoy a carriage ride. The 1881 publication above mentions “valuable lots handsomely arranged and adorned with fine monument. In walks and driveways it is all that can be desired.” It also predicted that it would “doubtless form the principal burial-place of the future for Port Jervis and vicinity.”
Another special point of interest or “solid landmark” at Laurel Grove is the Tri-State Monument, located at the tip of the cemetery where the Neversink and Delaware Rivers converge. Described on the cemetery website as “a witness stone” to the location of the New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania borders, the County history interprets the rock as the “extreme point of the tongue of land lying between the Delaware and the Neversink.” Apparently, by standing over a copper bolt sunk in the rock, a person may be in three States at the same time. A hand-colored picture postcard on the cemetery website provides an historical view of two Edwardian women contemplating the monument.
Interestingly, the early burials of the Carpenter family were in the orchard upon this place. According to Ruttenber, after opening Laurel Grove Cemetery, Mr. John D. Carpenter, an early settler who operated a ferry and owned land at the junction of the two rivers, purchased a lot near to the extreme point. His remains were moved to the lot when the cemetery was laid out. The nearby hamlet of “Carpenter’s Point” is rightly named in a double sense, both of settlement and of burial.
In 2019, Laurel Grove Cemetery sought private local and national foundations to assist in preserving the cemetery, and for assistance in repairing the beautiful historic monuments that are beyond the normal upkeep. Included on the Haunted History Trail of New York State, local lore speaks of a lady in a white gown seen floating through the cemetery.