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Mr. Havens has company in family vault at church cemetery
The thinking has been that, back in 1869, Albert Havens was laid to rest in his newly built mausoleum — the only one of its kind on Shelter Island — in the south burying ground of the Presbyterian Church Cemetery and that no one else from his family ever joined him in his roomy accommodation. The thinking was they all lived in New York and didn’t want to be buried here.
Mr. Havens, in fact, has lots of company.
The remains of 15 people, the most recently deceased in an urn dated 1986, are contained in the mausoleum, some of them in vaults and some in cremation urns, including one that is little more than a metal tub. Much of it has rusted away, exposing the plastic bag in which the person’s ashes had been stored.
The crypt’s massive stone lid was pried off on Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 19 by Islander Gene Shepherd and historian Zachery Studenroth, whom the Shelter Island DAR commissioned to study the condition of the church cemetery and its grave sites and recommend steps for restoration and preservation. They used tools as crowbars and levers to open the vault and, after an inspection to check its condition, close it back up.
About a dozen members of the DAR and Historical Society watched and some of them ventured down the steps into the vault. Sarah Shepherd took notes.
More about the inspection will be reported in the September 27 edition of the Shelter Island Reporter.