Mystery at the Cemetery History and Writing Challenge

Ballston Spa Village Cemetery has only three vaults.  The earliest mausoleum is of the family of James Cook, first president of the Ballston Spa Bank and.  The newest was erected by a Long Island merchant and his wife Isabell Curtis Gillespie, sister of Elmer Curtis, founder of Curtis Lumber Co.

The third has its folklore.  For generations, a story has been repeated that a couple would appear at the crypt for the purpose of dining inside.  Facing Ballston Avenue, the free-standing vault carries the date, 1870, on its top stone.  Chiseled in the second block is “E. L. WALSH.”  Edward Lewis Walsh kept gambling houses in Saratoga and New York City and was a friend of John Morrissey, who built Saratoga’s Casino.  Literally, he was a high roller.

His wife was a Ballston Spa native.  Eliza Hoffman was orphaned at an early age and raised by her mother’s sister, Sarah Burtis LaDew and Sarah’s husband, John C. F. Ladew, an Albany meat merchant.  About the time the vault was constructed, the bodies of Eliza’s mother, who died at age thirty in child birth, and a ten-year old sister were disinterred and reburied next to the crypt.  The aunt and uncle and Eliza’s brother, a noted gambler, and his wife are buried behind the vault.  It would be a family grouping, except Eliza is missing, or so it seems.

Camera views of the inside of the crypt show a large wooden box, which presumably held her coffin, open, askew, with a piece of material hanging from it.  A narrow-pointed iron bar lies on the floor.  Nowhere are Eliza’s name or dates found.

HISTORIANS: Solve the mystery of Eliza Walsh’s missing body or delve into the lives of the gamblers or family members.

CREATIVE WRITERS: Develop a short story around the crypt or its cast of characters.

POETS: Let your feelings be; A guide for this mystery; Give us pause to think.

Entries are requested by October 1, 2017 and are to be submitted to the Ballston Spa Cemetery Association at johncromie1@gmail.com.  The author must include his or her name, postal address, phone number, and fax, if one exists.  Selected submissions will be published on the cemetery association’s website and announced on Halloween 2017.  We may decide to publish booklets or similar print media including submissions.  By submitting a work, the author grants to the Ballston Spa Cemetery Association, Inc. an unrestricted license to use the work for promotion and/or support of its cemetery and the ability to reproduce any and all of the submitted article, in any medium, for those purposes.  Otherwise, the author will retain copyright over the article.  The Ballston Spa Cemetery Association, Inc. is recognized as an IRS 501(c)(13) tax exempt organization.  For further information, contact John J. Cromie at the above email address or 518-885-8451.