Failure to mark the resting-places of great men and to indicate the scenes of their deeds has led to misunderstanding and confusion among those who discover a regard for history and tradition in this practical age.
Robert Fulton, who made steam navigation possible, lies in an unmarked tomb in the yard of Trinity Church—the richest church in America. The stone erected to show where Andre was hanged was destroyed by a cheap patriot, who thought it represented a compliment to the spy.
The spot where Alexander Hamilton was shot in the duel by Aaron Burr is known to few and will soon be forgotten. It was not until a century of obloquy had been heaped on the memory of Thomas Paine that his once enemies were brought to know him as a statesman of integrity, a philanthropist, and philosopher.
His deistic religion, proclaimed in “The Age of Reason,” is unfortunately no whit more independent than is preached in dozens of pulpits to-day. He died ripe in honors, despite his want of creed, and his mortal part was buried in New Rochelle, New York, under a large walnut-tree in a hay-field.
Some years later his friends removed the body to a new grave in higher ground, and placed over it a monument that the opponents of his principles quickly hacked to pieces. Around the original grave there still remains a part of the old inclosure, and it was proposed to erect a suitable memorial—the Hudson and its Hills the spot, but the owner of the tract would neither give nor sell an inch of his land for the purpose of doing honor to the man.
Some doubt has already been expressed as to whether the grave is beneath the monument or in the inclosure; and it is also asserted that Paine’s ghost appears at intervals, hovering in the air between the two burial-places, or flitting back and forth from one to the other, lamenting the forgetfulness of men and wailing, “Where is my grave? I have lost my grave!”
The Lost Grave of Paine – US Folktales