Lake George’s drive to honor the many who died at the smallpox hospital at Fort George in the first years of the American Revolution continues to gather momentum.
U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer reaffirmed his support for local plans to inter the remains of the dead soldiers in Lake George Battlefield Park during an August 28 visit to Lake George.
“As we approach the 250th anniversary of the birth of our nation, it is important that we honor our country’s original patriots. That’s why I have called on the U.S. Army to help facilitate the reinterment of the remains found at a construction site in Lake George in 2019,” said Schumer.
The Senate Majority Leader toured the park and reviewed designs for memorial site with Dan Barusch, the Director of Zoning and Planning for Lake George, Town Board Member Marisa Muratori and John DiNuzzo, President of the Lake George Battlefield Park Alliance.
According to Barusch, who chairs the local committee spearheading the effort to reinter the remains, the proposed burial site is already the home of the nation’s oldest, officially recognized monument honoring Unknown Soldiers.
Those remains – which, in all likelihood, belong to American provincials who were fighting on behalf of the British king at the 1755 Battle of Lake George – were found during the construction of a road near Lake George in the 1930s and were reburied in the park at that time.
Some 75 years later, in February, 2019, the remains of American Revolutionary War soldiers were discovered at a construction site in Lake George Village.
According to Barusch, the remains of at least 40 individuals, more than twice the number originally believed to have been buried in the graveyard, were uncovered once officials halted construction at the site in Lake George Village. They will be among the first to be reinterred at Battlefield Park.
Political Support for Respectful Reinterment
The Boards of both the Village and the Town of Lake George have approved resolutions supporting “respectful reburials” of the remains found at the construction site inside Lake George Battlefield Park.
Both houses of the New York State legislature have also adopted resolutions supporting reinterment in Battlefield Park.
When Senator Schumer offered to be of assistance, Lake George officials requested that he intervene on behalf of the community with the U.S. Army.
“The U.S. Army wants to establish that the construction site in Lake George Village was a military cemetery before it can endorse the reinternment of the remains that were found there. We feel we have the documentation to prove that,” said Dan Barusch.
The proposal also requires the support of New York State, which owns Battlefield Park and whose Department of Environmental Conservation manages it.
“There is tremendous local support to bring these soldiers ‘home’ to the Battlefield Park–where they drew their last breaths—for their final resting place,” said Barusch. “We are actively in the process of getting all the necessary approvals. Senator Schumer’s endorsement of the reinterment proposal and his recommendations for its design are of great value to us.”
Barusch said his committee hopes to have all the necessary approvals in hand by Memorial Day, 2024.
A Memorial Plaza in Battlefield Park
According to Barusch, a Memorial Plaza would be constructed to entomb the remains from the construction site, along with those found in other areas of Lake George over the years.
The Memorial would honor all those who served at Lake George and be situated on the east side of Fort George Road, within a short walk from the Visitor Center.
Barusch said the cost to construct the Memorial Plaza could be as much as $500,000. He anticipates a Memorial Day, 2025, dedication.
“We’re very excited about this,” Barusch said.
Schumer Visits Visitor Center
According to John DiNuzzo, Senator Schumer also viewed displays at the Battlefield Park Visitor Center.
“Senator Schumer expressed his great love of New York’s history, connecting Alexander Hamilton and his father-in-law, Philip Schuyler, to the military hospital that was on these grounds,” said DiNuzzo. “The Senator enjoyed discussing history with us. His knowledge of the Revolutionary era was very evident.”