Willard Camp Helps Get Funding for Old and New Mt. Ida Cemeteries by

Col. G. L. Willard Camp 154 – SUVCW and the Mt. Ida Preservation Team

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In an annual rite of Spring, the members of the Col. George L. Willard Camp (Camp), a dedicated core of
volunteers, along with fraternity brothers from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), converge on New Mt.
Ida Cemetery. Led by Alysia Hamilton and Cameron Smith, two Troy residents who live near the Cemetery, the
group would perform some clean up and monument preservation on a weekend nearest to Earth Day. Winter
wreaks havoc with the old trees that rain down limbs on the dirt roads, walkways, and monuments throughout
the cemetery. Gathering up the branches into piles for removal by the City of Troy (City) was one objective. The
other objectives were to make minor monument repairs and identify monuments in need of an expert’s skills,
equipment, and materials. Over the years small grants were obtained from the City, RPI fraternities, and the
estate of Edward Dodge to facilitate those repairs by Joseph Ferrannini of Gravestone Matters.
Camp preservation and maintenance activities began in New Mount Ida in the early 2000s when Willard
Camp Brother John Hilton, who cared for his great grandfather’s plot (David L. Hilton, Company H, 104th
Regiment, New York State Volunteers), met Chuck Greenfield, a Marine Veteran who was placing flat granite
markers at Civil War Veterans’ plots in New Mount Ida. Brother Hilton, Camp Commander Bill Rave (1996-1998
and 2002-2003 1 ), and a dozen or so Brothers supported and assisted Chuck’s project that eventually placed over
160 flat markers. Chuck Greenfield would become Camp Commander from 2003-2004. A chance encounter
occurred several years later when Alysia and Cameron were clearing brush in the New Mount Ida Cemetery.
Brother Hilton enthusiastically supported and aided in these efforts with his time and by constructing a ten-foot
steel tripod and chain fall that could be used to right downed monuments. Later in 2011, Brother Hilton
attended a monument preservation workshop led by Joseph Ferrannini in Grafton 2 and referred Alysia to him
for preserving the multiple monuments that had been uncovered during the brush removal efforts.
An opportunity for more substantial funding arose in 2022 and Cameron started to explore options for
applying for the funds to support both Old and New Mt. Ida Cemeteries. The City of Troy announced the
availability of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds in the Spring with proposals due in May. Cameron, with
crucial support from Willard Camp and Joseph Ferrannini, defined a project, "Preserving The Mount Ida
Cemeteries”, for the two Cemeteries that aligned with the City’s emphasis on improving public greenspaces that
are in need of deferred maintenance and were essential resources during the pandemic. In early November the
team was excited to learn that the proposal was approved for funding by the City Council after being
recommended by the City’s ARPA Steering Committee.

The project objectives focus on preserving the Old and New Mount Ida cemeteries through a one-time
investment in a tree survey and maintenance program along with monument repair and preservation. Trees
would be trimmed to remove dead, dying and crowded limbs which will allow new healthy growth. Under the
trees marble and granite monuments, many of Civil War Veterans and significant figures from Troy’s past, will be
cleaned and repaired. Ultimately the project will help ensure the greenspace remains safe for visitors and
honors those interred there. The effort will bring the Cemeteries closer to their original conditions. We
requested $2,000 for the tree survey, $20,800 for trimming tasks, and $48,000 for monument preservation.
Following City Council approval in November, the project was presented to Willard Camp members
during the regular December meeting. Shortly thereafter a contract was received from the City and it went
through multiple rounds of review between December 2022 and January 2023. While Cameron and the Camp
worked on completing the contract review it was time to get liability insurance in place and begin contacting our
vendors for both their contracts and insurance certificates. The National Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
(SUVCW) was helpful in quickly issuing an insurance certificate and that helped assure that the contract could be signed and all efforts would continue to move forward. In February 2023, Joseph Ferannini of Grave Stone
Matters submitted his insurance information so that the monument work could move forward quickly in the late
Spring. In the meantime, a voucher system was developed to keep track of invoices and payments and a new
bank account was being prepared for receiving and disbursing funds. This occurred just before we received our
first vendor contract from PlanIT Geo paving the way for tree survey work to in mid-April.

We are all excited about the progress of the proposal, contracts, insurance issues and the pace of the
work. Thanks are due to: The City of Troy; Rensselaer County Legislature; Project Manager Cameron Smith;
David Dziewulski, Thomas Maggs and the members of Willard Camp; the National SUVCW; Christopher Philippo
for his dedication to monument preservation work and deep knowledge of local history.

Check out photos from the work being done at Mt. Ida Cemeteries

Check out the News spotlight video from WTEN 10 about the current work being done


Before 05/26/23
Middle 06/03/23 (approx.)
After (06/04/23)

A great sequence of photographs.

Before 05/26/23

Middle 06/03/23 (approx.)

After (06/04/23)

A dramatic change in the aspect of the Cemetery.


To Help:

Volunteers who want to assist in the field should contact Cameron Smith at the following email address:

preservenewmountida@gmail.com

Individuals who want to donate funds for the project should send a check made out to the “Col. G. L. Willard Camp 154” with “Mt. Ida Cemeteries” noted in the memo line. These can be mailed to:

Col. George L. Willard Camp No.154 SUVCW
P.O. Box 13681 Albany, NY 12212-3681

Sources:

1 http://glwillard154.org/about-the-camp/officers/past-commanders-of-154
2 https://www.troyrecord.com/2011/04/20/community-calendar-for-april-20-2011/