By Michael Castellano (adapted from articles by M.C.)*
Everyone knows the story of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. Burr, when still Vice President of the United States, met Hamilton in Weehawken NJ, on July 11, 1804. There, Burr shot Hamilton in a pistol duel. Hamilton, the former Secretary of the Treasury, died the next day in New York and was buried in Trinity Church Cemetery. Burr ran off to Europe and hid out for a few years before returning to America. He was never charged with murder even though dueling had been outlawed for years.
What very few know is that a Burr and a Hamilton are buried right here in Andes. Jehu Burr, a third cousin of Aaron and a Revolutionary war soldier, came to Andes in the summer of 1794 to survey the land on Dingle Hill Road. He had many sons and two daughters named Deborah and Antha. When he finished plotting out the lots, he settled on Ridge Road with land stretching from Lower Dingle Hill Road to Upper Dingle Hill Road. There he raised his family. Michael Hamilton, a distant relative of Alexander, settled on Lower Dingle Hill around 1820. The Burrs and Hamiltons were friendly and shared similar political views (they were Up Renters). Michael married Antha Burr and they continued to farm his place on Dingle Hill.
Today on a lot on the southwest corner of the intersection of Ridge Road and Lower Dingle Hill Road lies the Burr Cemetery, which is still identifiable but in total disrepair. Buried there are Jehu Burr, his wife Mary Burr, Jehu’s son Philo, Antha Burr Hamilton, and Michael Hamilton. There has been much discussion by the ASHC about repairing this historic landmark if possible. (Much of this information came from We Lived on Dingle Hill by John D. McLean.)
Over the last year I have been in touch with Dr. Antonio Burr of Manhattan a descendant of Aaron Burr, to receive permission to restore the cemetery. Dr. Burr was kind enough to direct me to the right descendants to get the final go-ahead. That left only getting the permission of the current landowner, who was more than happy to see the site restored.
My neighbor, Don Liddle, jumped into the project whole-heartedly, and explained what he thought was the best plan to proceed. The family graveyard was laid out in a perfect 40 foot square, with stone walls surrounding it. The walls had all collapsed over the past 156 years from neglect, and large maple trees had fallen on the walls. Other trees had grown in the interiors. Using chainsaws, cleaning up the debris took only a couple of days, but then the hard work began. Don said the next step was reconstructing the stone walls. Slowly we tossed the large stones to both sides of where the wall once stood, but with a combined age between the two of us of 135 years, the going was slow. Over the course of roughly 30 hours for each of us, two corners and one wall were reconstructed. Our hope is to finish the other two corners before the snow flies, and the remaining three walls next spring. One of the best parts of the project is learning how to build a stone wall from someone who has that skill. Thanks, Don!
*Re-printed with permission from The Andes Society for History and Culture Fall 2015 and Fall 2016 newsletters.~