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  • Ann D. Watson

The Dingman Boulder

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, Week 17

Around the turn of the 20th Century, the Dingman family hired a teamster to hitch his oxen to a large boulder up in the Ramapo hills of New York and haul it to the Brick Church Cemetery in Spring Valley, there to mark the Dingman lot.

This is the family story that's been passed down to Dingman relatives. Once the boulder was at the cemetery, a stone carver would have been hired to create the big block letters.

The Ramapo hills are only about four or five miles away, not a great distance; but still, can you imagine? Likely they used a stone boat to drag the rock down from the hills. For pictures and information about oxen and horses pulling heavy objects using a stone boat, click here.

The photograph below, taken at the time of my mother's burial, gives an idea of the enormous size of this boulder.

Dingman boulder with Dingman descendants

Dingman boulder with Dingman descendants. Photo credit: Ann D. Watson.

The Brick Church in Spring Valley was built in 1856 by the Spring Valley members of the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church. [1] Dr. James A. Dingman, my great-grandfather, was a deacon at one point. [2]

Brick Church, Spring Valley, New York [3]

My mother, Nancy McLeod Dingman (Watson), also buried in the Dingman lot, told me the story of the oxen bringing the stone. I spoke with Paul, the cemetery superintendent for the past thirty years. He heard the same story. There's no documentation at the church, and searches on and GenealogyBank turned up nothing. Further newspaper research or local library research may result in more information; but this type of transport was common at the time and may not have drawn much notice.

Photo below credit: Ann D. Watson.



1. Frank Bertangue Green, The History of Rockland County (New York: A. S. Barnes & Col, 1886), 229; Google Books ( : accessed 27 April 2018).

2. Reformed Church in America, A History of the Classis of Paramus of the Reformed Church in America: Containing the Proceedings of the Centennial Meeting oft he Classis, The Historical Discourse, and the Addresses, Statistical History and the Histories of the Individual Churches (New York: The Board of Publication, R. C. A., 1902), 468; Google Books ( : accessed 27 April 2018).

3. Brick Church, Spring Valley, New York. By Jimstu8 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons ( accessed 27 April 2018).

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