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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, April 5, 2012

Bring in your antiques for appraisal and raise funds for historic church, graveyard
By Tyler Murphy

NEW SCOTLAND –– Martha Oden can still recall the anguish she felt for not knowing the value of an heirloom.

Someone in her family had just died and, among the items left behind, was what looked to be a decorative glass stone. Oden remembered a child playing with the stone before it was eventually lost. Later, she learned it had been a valuable 4-carat gem.

“That’s one of those things you don’t want to do,” she said.

Oden and other members of the New Scotland Cemetery Association and Presbyterian Church are hoping antiques will help preserve local history next month.

Since April 3, the two groups have been selling tickets for a May 5 antiques appraisal event. The tickets represent blocks of time and an available appointment is scheduled during purchase.

Instead of attending an open public event, those with tickets will have pre-arranged meetings with one of three professional appraisers between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., Saturday afternoon at the church, located at 2010 New Scotland Road.

An heirloom will be appraised for each $5; ticket, patrons are limited to three tickets each. The three appraisers have volunteered their time and expertise for the event and all funds will be evenly divided between the two not-for-profit organizations.

Cemetery Association Secretary Treasurer Arlene Herzog noted the event’s historical theme complements the community group’s reverence for remembering the past. “The board thought it’d be fun to tie in church and local history with an event,” she said.

“People get these things, these items, maybe they were passed down in the family, a gift from an in-law, or something. They are told this thing is valuable, whatever it might be,” she said.

But, what do you do with it once you have it and how do you know what it’s really worth?” asked Herzog.

“Do you stick it in a yard sale, give it to the grandchildren to play with, or do you insure it?” questioned Oden.

Jewels are not the only precious item when is comes to history, explained Oden and Herzog. They said a number of collectable antiques are valuable, not just because of their age, but also because of how and what they were made of.

“Like old toys, things of a particular interest that a collector may want. Toy fire trucks are one thing, there’s a huge difference between an antique one and what you buy in a store today, so it’s valuable,” said Oden.

The cemetery association will use its share of the funds to maintain the grounds of the New Scotland Cemetery. Pastor Holly Cameron said the church’s share would be contributed to ongoing building renovations, which include replacing at least 10 windows in the church’s sanctuary. In 2010, the church and cemetery were admitted to the New York State Register of Historical Places.

Herzog said caring for the cemetery presents special challenges because it was built during a time when visitors still used a horse and buggy. As a result, the cemetery’s layout can seem cramped to larger machines used to move weighty headstones and remove heavy brush.

Last summer, the remnants of Hurricane Irene caused damage to a number of trees in the area that is still being addressed, said Herzog. Due to the special conditions the cemetery presents to contractors, such as limited space for heavy equipment and the concern for disturbing any graves, Herzog said, it costs an average of about a $1,000 to have just a single tree removed.

“So its actually costing more to care for the cemetery today than is has in past years,” she said.

The oldest parts of the current church were built in 1849, replacing a previous church that was built by the congregation four years before the American Revolution. The cemetery association formed its own community organization seperate from the church, in 1866. Among many others, the cemetery is the final resting place of 14 Revolutionary War soldiers and four Civil War veterans.

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