The distinctive dome-shaped hills scattered throughout Fort Hill Cemetery were formed ten thousand years ago when receding glaciers deposited debris in piles. Centuries later, these dunes are covered with topsoil that supports the growth of trees and foliage. The result is an atmosphere reverberant with magic. This ambiance was felt by the area's many settlers, from the ancient culture of Mound Builders to the the Cayuga nation of the Iroquois Confederacy and even the descendants of the European settlers who pushed out the Cayugas and decided to use the land as a cemetery, to preserve its wild and majestic beauty. Judge Elijah Miller, William H. Seward's father-in-law, was instrumental in making that happen-and was the first person to be buried there. The influence of the site's mysticism is not limited to human perception. Tens of thousands of crows convene there from fall through spring for orientation to urban survival. It is as though Fort Hill is the Ellis Island for the corvine population. Before the crows arrive for their wintry bivouac, the monarch butterflies converge in early fall to perform their ritual aerial ballet in preparation for the migratory journey to the Yucatan.
About the Author
Author Lydia J. Rosell has worked at the Cayuga Museum, Owasco Stockaded Indian Village, and at both local newspapers. She serves on the board of the Cayuga County Arts Council, cofounded the local rape crisis center, and wrote a novel about witches in a nursing home. She is currently events coordinator and archivist for the Community Preservation Committee at the Historic Willard Chapel. She has strolled Fort Hill grounds for over twenty years, pored through books, journals, and newspaper stories, and scanned hundreds of photographs to glean the stories of the fascinating people interred therein.