‘A last-ditch effort’ to honor a hero

Cemetery Restoration Committee hopes to positively identify gravesite of Civil War veteran

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Maj. Lawrence H. Thompson died on Aug. 3, 1901. His obituary was published in the then Patchogue Advance on Aug. 9, 1901. The obituary stated that Maj. Thompson passed in his home on Terry Avenue and his funeral was held in the home with the Rev. Mr. Probst officiating. Interment was in Lakeview Cemetery. Maj. Thompson was survived by a widow and one son, Richard Thompson, as well as one sister in Philadelphia.

Thompson fought for the Union in the Civil War and rose up the ranks quickly. 

“In the battle of Gettysburg, he was wounded in both thighs, and in the battle at Williamsburg, he was wounded in the back, which caused a concussion of the spine,” the obituary states. “This wound is believed to have been the primary and ultimate cause of his death.”

“His eyesight had failed him for 13 years, the last four of which he was totally blind. His devoted wife has been his faithful and patient attendant, lovingly administering to his wants and doing all in her power to brighten his lonely life.”

Today, Thompson’s wife’s grave can be easily found at Lakeview Cemetery. If you drive straight into the cemetery, it is just before the large sculpture on the left-hand side. According to her tombstone, Martha Thompson died in 1904. Next to Mrs. Thompson’s tombstone is an empty base where the tombstone has been stolen. Richard Kemp, a member of the Cemetery Restoration Committee of Patchogue, said that they can only assume that Maj. Thompson is buried in the spot next to his wife, where the missing tombstone is. However, without proof of this, the organization cannot obtain a new military-issued headstone from the Veterans Administration. If they can prove Maj. Thompson is buried in the spot, the Veterans Administration provides the headstone free of charge. Kemp noted that the headstone was probably stolen approximately 40 years ago. Over the past year, Kemp has made it his mission to try and find a relation or someone who may know for certain that Thompson is buried in the spot next to his wife. He noted that speaking with the press is a “last-ditch effort” to try and identify the grave.

Through his research, Kemp discovered that Maj. Thompson had one son, Richard Lawrence Thompson, who died in 1939. Maj. Thompson also had a grandson, Lawrence Edward Thompson, who passed away in 1969. He noted that because undertakers were not required to keep records, there is no “key” that notes that Maj. Thompson is a specific plot.

If anyone has any information about Maj. Thompson, his family, or his burial site, they are urged to contact the Cemetery Restoration Committee or Richard Kemp at krchdkem@aol.com.

About the Cemetery Restoration Committee of Patchogue

The Cemetery Restoration Committee of Patchogue is a group of volunteers that work to “to promote the history, the monuments and the natural beauty of the cemeteries in a park-like setting, for the benefit of the descendants of those who rest in these cemeteries and for the residents of and the visitors to the Village of Patchogue.” The location of the cemetery, on the corner of West Main Street and Waverly Avenue, is in all actuality five cemeteries: Lakeview, Rice, Old Episcopal, Union and Gerard Cemetery.

Ralph Wright, of the Cemetery Restoration Committee, said the group does receive grants from elected officials or the government, but the group would like to build an endowment in order to help them fund projects such as finding Maj. Thompson’s gravesite, providing education, and keeping the cemetery looking beautiful. Membership in the group is $75 a year for an individual and $25 a year for students or seniors who may need financial assistance. For more information on the group, please visit www.cemeteryrestorationcommittee.com.

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