Hoping the Five Towns past isn’t forgotten
by ELYSE, Elfis4everATaol_comhttp://www.liherald.com/fivetowns/fivetowns/stories/Hoping-t...
In 2000, the Herald helped me begin an amazing grass roots project called the Lawrence Cemetery Restoration Project for the Lawrence Methodist Church Cementery by covering the stories as the project developed. The Project went strong for about four years.
With five generations of my family buried there and with the help of some amazing memories, LCRP banded together by way of coffee house meetings, letter writing, searching through phone books, publishing articles and sending out newsletters to anyone that might possibly care to help in some way. In doing so, we raised an amazing amount of money. We had donations from all over the country and volunteers came throughout the community to help restore the cemetery grounds by raising stones and repairing the cemetery’s gates and fences. We also all became friends. It was a feel good project that to this day gives me a great sense of pride.
Without any help from the Village of Lawrence, Lawrence Cemetery Restoration Project , Nassau County, or local police, LCRP managed to clean up and renovate the forgotten, vandalized & littered resting place of the founders of the Five Towns. We even convinced the Long Island Rail Road to clear their side of the cemetery and install a new fence. Despite the clean up, the new gate and renovations that were completed inside of two years, we still could not keep the cemetery from further trespassing and vandalism.
Now, 10 years later, most of our founding members have passed away. Many of which were in their 90s. Amazing people like Rose Marie (Zila) Craft, Virginia (Hummel) Hicks, and Evelyn (Wood) Hanlon are no longer with us to lead the charge or exchange stories of a by-gone era. Others like Jane Andrews, sister of the late Curtis Andrews, who was a driving force for the project, has since moved away from the house she grew up in, in Hewlett.
While I am glad our members were able to see the cemetery repaired then, the church and its yards continue to fall to the wear and tear of time, neglect and community apathy. The present owners have no means to maintain, never mind improve the property. My family (Craft) came to this area in 1683 and worked along side people with names like Lawrence, Mott and Abrams. It saddens me and my former member’s memories when I still get emails and phone calls from people looking for their ancestors and answers. These families that built up the Five Towns are looking for answers on how the property and church can be just left to fade away and be forgotten.
Names like Sprague, Pettit, Wood, Abrams, Frost, Andrews, Hummel, Coles, Hicks, Hewlett and so many other historical families who called this area home and built this area so that it could become the thriving community that it is today. The faces, names and faiths may have changed, but I hope the sacred ground of the Lawrence Cemetery and the Five Towns founders that rest there eternally, will never be forgotten.