Daniel Vitagliano, 17, Port Chester
Senior at Archbishop Stepinac High School
Whiz Kid’s Accomplishment: Daniel, who has been involved with the Cub Scouts and Boys Scouts for almost 10 years, has revitalized the historic records for the African-American cemetery located next to the Greenwood Union Cemetery in Rye. The cemetery is designated as a Westchester historical site and is recognized in the New York State Register of Historical Places and the National Register of Historic Places.
Keys to Awesomeness: After attending a Rye Town Council meeting and hearing about the difficulties its Ad Hoc Committee was having with the cemetery’s upkeep, Daniel, now an Eagle Scout, decided to step in and undertake a project to preserve the cemetery’s history as part of his effort to become an Eagle Scout.
The one-acre cemetery was donated to the Town of Rye in 1860. One hundred and nineteen people are buried there, including 28 war veterans, many of whom are African-American.
There are no official records showing how plots were laid out or who is actually buried in the cemetery, but Daniel conducted research about the cemetery, its legacy and has shared its history with residents throughout the county.
“I had many ideas on how to promote the history of the cemetery, including its importance to veterans, and educating others to better understand the contributions African-Americans made to the Westchester County community,” Daniel told Patch.
Daniel gathered information from different historical resources—from things such as obituaries, death certificates, church records and oral histories from relatives—to pinpoint and mark the graves of those who are buried in the cemetery. A ceremony on Saturday marked the completion of his project.
Daniel created a numbered system of all the graves, located the graves on a diagram of the cemetery, and created a user-friendly interface so that any data collected can be easily accessed. His project was approved by the Rye Town Council.