Family helps honor Revolutionary War soldiers
Time has all but erased the names of fallen soldiers from their tombstones at Snells Bush Cemetery on Dockey Road.
But thanks to the work of one extended family, it will not erase them from history.
The Snell-Zimmerman-Timmerman family held a ceremony attended by about 40 people Sunday morning at the cemetery to place new markers on the graves of two Revolutionary War soldiers whose original stones are no longer legible.
“In honoring Peter Woolever and John Dockey, we also pay tribute to all men and women who have served our country with integrity and devotion,” Nancy Timmerman Cioch said. “These men fought for freedom and liberty, and defended our nation against all enemies. We are very proud to be descended from these heroic patriots.”
Cioch of Herkimer is president of the Snell-Zimmerman-Timmerman Family Reunion Inc., a corporation created to help preserve the cemetery and the adjacent St. Paul’s Dutch Reformed Church — also is known as Snells Bush Church — which was built in 1755.
According to the family’s records, at least 17 soldiers are buried in the cemetery, and eleven of them were veterans of the Revolutionary War. The oldest grave belongs to Peter Snell, Cioch’s distant relative who died in 1804.
More than 100 family members gather in Little Falls each year for a family reunion and a single church service, she said. The rest of the year, the church remains unused or is rented out for weddings and special events.
Sunday’s ceremony included brief biographies of the two soldiers and an honor guard from the St. Johnsville American Legion, who fired a memorial volley and played taps after wreaths were laid on the new stones.
The replacement stones, provided through a program of the Veterans Administration in Washington, D.C., list the name and date of each soldier, as well as their unit and which war they fought in. They were placed at the feet of the existing monuments from the 1800s, which were worn down by years of exposure to the elements.
“Even if you did a rubbing on it, you wouldn’t be able to read it,” Cioch said of one stone. “So now with the small one placed in front, if any descendants come, they’ll know exactly where it is.”
Cioch said the family hopes to continue replacing worn gravestones from year to year, and is in the process of researching records on unmarked graves in hopes of labeling them some day as well.
Bill Timmerman of Little Falls said he enjoys his family’s involvement in history and wishes more people would take an interest in preserving their heritage.
“It makes you proud of your country, for one thing,” he said of his ancestry. “The other thing is you realize what your forefathers went through to achieve all this land and to keep it. I mean this is the beginning of our country right here.”