A mystery at the Chichester Cemetery is solved by the Friends of Bedford Burying Ground
by Ray Hinkley
Finding a tombstone lying on the ground all by itself in a cemetery isn’t much of a mystery, but when the death date is January 24, 1882 in a cemetery established in Bedford in 1883, you wonder where the stone belongs. Even though the Town of Bedford owns the cemetery now, it was originally the Pound Ridge Presbyterian Cemetery. The one-and-a-half-acre parcel had been donated to the church by David N. Chichester, according to Patrick Raftery, in his book, The Cemeteries of Westchester County. The question still remained as to where the tombstone of William Shephard belonged, and who he was?
Using recently discovered maps that had been commissioned by the Industrial Bureau of the town of Bedford in 1933 and Bedford Historical records, it was determined that the grave of William Shephard, aged 90, was in section ‘C’ grave #1. Using a compass and intuition we literally tripped over a footstone with the initials ‘W.S.’, and with a little digging found the broken base of his stone, and grave # C-2, the grave of an infant marked with field stones, the only two graves in section ‘C’.
Section ‘C’ of the cemetery is at the North end and is heavily wooded with second growth trees. Whoever found his stone probably thought it belonged in another part of the cemetery, and moved it into the open. Checking on Google Earth, and putting in ‘Old Corner Road ‘in Bedford, N.Y. will give you a bird’s eye view of the cemetery. However the real truth is that the north end of cemeteries were usually reserved for burials of unknowns, suicides, slaves, and indigents.
Using Ancestry.com we were able to find William Shephard in Pound Ridge, N.Y. from 1840 – 70 listed as a farmer. Unfortunately the census of 1880 lists him as an inmate of the Westchester County Alms House or “Poor House” in Mt. Pleasant, N.Y. He was there due to “Old Age and Destitution”. Shephard died in 1882 and was returned to the Pound Ridge Presbyterian Cemetery for burial (now Chichester). William Shephard’s stone has been repaired and restored to its original site.
William Shephard stone as found:
William Shepard stone now restored to its original location.