One of my favorite burial grounds/cemeteries is the Old Town Cemetery in the city of Newburgh. One of the many reasons it is a favorite destination is because of the notable people interred within its bounds. Two such notables are congressmen, Thomas McKissock and Jonathan Fisk.
McKissock was born in Montgomery, New York on April 17, 1790. The Directory of the U.S. Congress, states that he studied medicine and law. Walter Case Anthony writes that his early schooling was at the Montgomery Academy. Once admitted to the bar, he practiced in Newburgh. In 1847, he was appointed a pusine justice of the New York State Supreme Court. A pusine justice is a junior judge. Although Marcus T. Reynolds had been nominated by the governor and confirmed by the N.Y.S. Senate, he refused the position. McKissock was Governor Young’s second choice.
McKissock was elected to the 32nd Congress from March 4, 1849 to March 3, 1851. Although he ran for re-election in 1850, he was defeated for the 9th district. After his defeat, he continued to practice law. He is listed in the Newburgh Directory for 1864 as having an office at 27 Third Street in Newburgh.
Thomas McKissock passed away on June 26, 1866. According to a local paper, his funeral was held on June 30 ,and he was buried in the Old Town Cemetery. He was buried not to far from Congressman Jonathan Fisk.
Jonathan Fisk was not born in Orange County, but in New England. He was born in Amherst, New Hampshire on September 26, 1778, where he started out his professional career as a teacher. Walter Case Anthony, wrote that he was certified to teach grammar, writing, and math. He would not do this for long.
In 1795 he moved to Ware, New Hampshire to further his studies and continue his teaching. This time he studied Latin and Greek. Once again, according to Anthony, he moved, this time to New York City. Fisk studied in the law office of Peter Hawes. He continued to earn money teaching. In 1799, he was allowed to practice law before the Court of Common Pleas in Westchester County. As his abilities were realized he was allowed to practice law before the state supreme court as well as the court of common pleas in both Orange as well as Ulster Counties. This was in 1800, when he also relocated to Newburgh.
Jonathan Fisk was elected to 11th Congress in 1808, for the 3rd district. He would be elected again in 1814, where he would represent the 6th district. Eventually he gave up his seat in Congress to become a S.S. Attorney.
Fisk briefly left Newburgh for New York City in 1815 when he was appointed by President James Madison a U.S. District Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Eventually Fisk returned to Newburgh in 1820, and continued to practice law. Anthony wrote in his book about prominent lawyers in Orange County published in 1917, that Fisk was investigated for charging large fees while he was a district attorney. It was believed that it hurt his business, even though he was cleared of wrong doing. He died in Newburgh on July 13, 1832.
Fisk and McKissock are two of many distinguished citizens of Newburgh buried in the Old Town Cemetery. There are prominent military men, merchants, and Captain Henry “Bully” Robinson’s mausoleum. The Cemetery is located between Grand and Liberty at South Street, next to the Calvary Presbyterian Church.