May 29, 2013 - As visitors enter the Lakeville Cemetery, they immediately notice a large green marker designating the 170-year-old rural resting place as a state-registered historic site.
Bruce Pearson (click for larger version)
Without the hard work and determination of the late Jim Woon, of Addison, that marker probably wouldn't be there.
Woon, who passed away in January at the age of 66, was honored during Addison's Memorial Day observance for the "instrumental" role he played in getting the cemetery's historic value officially recognized.
"He wanted to make sure that everybody knew how important this cemetery was and he did a fine job," said township Supervisor Bruce Pearson, who delivered a speech about his "friend."
Pearson and Woon shared a "passion" for history. "He would come into my office and we would talk history," he said. "I never wanted it to end."
Lakeville Cemetery was established in 1843 when Addison settler Ernest Mann donated one acre to the community for use as a cemetery. Today, the cemetery is more than 11 acres in size.
Since 1910, the cemetery has been preserved and enhanced by the Lakeville Cemetery Auxiliary, of which Woon was a member and its historian.
Pvt. Derrick Hulick (1759-1843) has the distinction of being the first person buried in Lakeville Cemetery. He fought in both the American Revolution and the War of 1812.
At the age of 17, Hulick enlisted in the New Jersey militia on June 1, 1776 – a month before the American colonies would declare their independence from Great Britain.
"I can see it clearly," Pearson said. "I can see him signing his name on the (enlistment) document. I can see him getting his blue uniform. I can see him getting his musket and going off to march and learn how defend our new nation. I can smell the smoke. I can hear the battles."
Hulick is one of 159 veterans currently buried in Lakeville Cemetery.
"If you close your eyes, you can hear all the stories of all the veterans," Pearson said.
Woon photographed and documented all the veterans' headstones in the cemetery for both public use and posterity.
"That was his gift to all of us and I thank him for that," Pearson said.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.