Since colonial days, a hill of about one acre in the New York village of Mount Kisco has been the final resting place for more than 400 souls. The first burials date from 1773. The last occurred during 1940. This cemetery has recorded almost two centuries of local history and it was the scene of events that helped create the nation.
The names on the stones provide a timeline for the history of the community, which is located in Westchester County and is a derivative of an Indian word (either kiskamenahook meaning “settlement near a brook” or cisqua meaning “a muddy place”). Some of the surnames on the headstones, such as Kirby and Sarles, were critical to the growth of the community. Revolutionary War soldiers also are buried in the graveyard.
The St. George’s/St. Mark’s Cemetery witnessed several critical events during the founding of the nation.
George Washington was here, inspecting 5,000 French troops under Count Rochambeau as they camped in the field across from the cemetery. The French had marched from Rhode Island through Westchester County and on to the final battle of the war at Yorktown. Markers that recognize the presence of the French can be found in the county, in nearby Connecticut and across the Hudson River in Rockland County.
The actual St. George’s Church stood on the site from 1761 until 1819. It was used as a rear hospital by Washington after the October 1776 Battle of White Plains. It was the British base for Colonel Banastre Tarleton’s attack on Pound Ridge during July 1779. During 1780, British Major John Andre, as a prisoner, twice passed along the road.
A portion of the trial of Major General Charles Lee, who was charged with disobeying Washington’s orders at the Battle of Monmouth, New Jersey, was held at St. George’s Church. Due to the movement of the army and the number of days of testimony, the trial’s location moved along with the troops. The trial also has been documented of occurring in Peekskill and at the Miller House that still stands in today’s community of North White Plains.
St. Mark’s Church existed on the site from 1852 until 1911. Since then, only the graveyard has remained.
Site Restoration Underway
Two local women, Laurie Kimsal and Susan Ross, have volunteered to launch a project that will include a cleanup of the cemetery and repairs to some of the stones. A New York University student is researching the history of the cemetery’s residents and she is blogging about her findings. The historic site also might see reenactments in the near future that will recreate the historic events of the area.
To learn more about St. George’s/St. Mark’s Cemetery and the restoration work, visit Restoring Mount Kisco History on Facebook, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations to support the work can be mailed to the Mount Kisco Historical Society (write “cemetery project” in the memo space on the check), PO Box 263, Mount Kisco, NY 10549.