Meeting Islip's Famous & Infamous: a Gilded Tour of Historic Oakwood Cemetery
Hosted by the Islip Hamlet Historical Society
On the evening of June 4th, the Historical Society of Islip Hamlet hosted a tour of historic Oakwood Cemetery at the corner of Moffitt Blvd. and Brentwood Rd. Approximately 150 people attended.
Joe Nolan, Superintendent of the cemetery gave a history of the cemetery and volunteers (names in parenthesis below), brought these 'famous & infamous' people's stories to life as shown in the following video:
Mortimer Ruggles (Roby Johnson) was a West Point graduate who joined the Confederacy. He was captured and, upon release, swore allegiance to the Union. He moved to New York and established himself in retail business; he died in 1902.
George Hanford Burr (Dawn Callaway) was born, raised and resided in Islip with his wife and 5 children. He was a successful coastal captain operating an oyster sloop. Burr's is a watery grave; the marker was placed by his family to commemorate his life.
Hank Haff (Cathy Romano) was born and raised in Islip and married Emeline Clock in 1860 and they raised 5 boys. He became part of the "Islip Crowd" tradition (Haff's, Jeffrey, Berry, Clock's and Wicks) defending Americ's Cup. Upon his death, his children purchased this marker for the Haff family.
James H. Doxsee (Jack Weishahn) put out on the market a new product labeled "American Lunch Fish" and soon produced products under the "Doxsee Label" (Doxsee Clam Juice). By 1893 he was employing hundreds and was the largest business in Town. Eventually, the business was taken over by Bumble Bee.
Anna Wolpert (Nancy Libert) was the wife of Richard Wolpert, who, during the early years of the 1900's not only built houses, they created vibrant communities in Islip Terrace and Islip Manor.
W. Kingsland Macy (Pete Freeman) was the Chairman of the Suffolk County Republican Committee for 25 years. He was born in Manhattan in 1889. He was elected to the NYS Republican Chairman at 32, State Senator at 48 and served 2 terms as a Congressman between 1946 & 1950. After that, he retired to his home in Islip.
Herbert John Yates (Elaine Kurka) founded Republic Pictures who gave you all those Gene Autry and Roy Rogers movies. Yates was born in Brooklyn in 1880. The studio Republic got a new lease on life with CBS; the Mary Tyler Moore Show and other entertainments were filmed there. Yates died in 1966.
Martha Clara Entenmann (Deb Filipowski) was the matriarch of a family that turned a small Bay Shore bakery into one of the nation's largest baked goods companies. Martha passed in 1996 at age 90. Her son, William, who had established a vineyard on the North Fork, named it in her honor.
Cynthia Hawkins (Christine Scibelli) was married to Capt. Frederick Hawkins, a successful sea captain and businessman. Her oldest son, Asbury, beat and shot her and left her by the side of the road. He admitted to the killing. Asbury was hung at the Riverhead jail on December 11, 1888; the last person hung in Suffolk County for a capital crime.
Phoebe Wright (Diane Darcy) was the wife of Frederick Wright, Sr. and raised 5 children on Monell Ave. During the Civil War, her husband and 2 sons joined Company B of the 2nd NY Cavalry. Fredrick was a wheelwright by trade. All are buried in Oakwood Cemetery.
Nathaniel Clock (George Munkenbeck) was a co-founder of Oakwood Cemetery and an America's Cup Defender. Nathaniel was born in Islip and is buried among family and friends on land that was part of his family's holdings. He rests where his grave is still battled by the winds of the Atlantic.