A Tribute to Water System Guardians

Water System Guardians rock photo

In light of strengthened security for the New York City-Westchester water supply system following the September 11th attacks, we reprint here from our December 1998 issue the text and photograph of a great stone monument in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery (feature 17 on the Friends' map) to those who guarded the water supply during World War I. Thanks to Louise and Ted Hutchinson of Sleepy Hollow for originally providing this material.

Walk north a bit shortly after entering the main gates of the cemetery on Route 9 to visit the monument. The plaque reads:

This rock symbolizing the regiment which raises it hewn from Bonticou Crag on
the line of the Catskill Aqueduct by the storms of ages was erected here marking
the spot where one of its fatherless boys was buried by the regiment at the
request of the mother a helpless widow and

as a memorial to those who made the supreme sacrifice in the service with the
First Provisional Regiment guarding the 100 miles of the water supply system of
the City of New York from Ashokan to Hillview during the Great War.

1917 1918 1919
Frank De Costa Bom Sep 29 1900 Died Dec 3 1918

Additional information has been gleaned from a 1962 news clipping. According to this source, Private Frank DeCosta died in a field hospital in Ossining of influenza, and the 40 names inscribed on the monument are the casualties of the First Provisional Regiment. Listed on the other side of the monument are the military units that participated in the Regiment.

The same article states that 8,000 enlisted men and 150 commissioned officers guarded the water supply; that the Reverend Charles Baldwin, for 37 years rector of St. Mary's Episcopal Church of Scarborough, was a chaplain of the regiment; and that the monument was unveiled on March 23, 1919 on a plot donated by William Rockefeller (whose estate, Rockwood Hall, was nearby).