Jerome Lee is one of the known African-American Civil War veterans with headstones in the Lansingburgh Village Burying Ground. There is some indication he might actually be buried in the Cypress Hills National Cemetery in Brooklyn, however.
On the 1850 US Census he was in Pittstown in the household of his father John Lee (b. abt 1797) and his mother Betsey (b. abt 1812). On the 1855 NYS Census he was in the household of his mother Elizabeth, identified as a widow, in Schaghticoke. That latter census enumerated them directly after the Thomas Mando family, previously written about here. The Mando family was listed just below the John Banker family, which would seem to put the Mando and Lee families somewhere in the vicinity of the hamlet of Schaghticoke Hill, or northeast thereof. The Mando family had a wood frame house valued at $100 (a common amount), while the Lees has a Wood frame house valued at $30. The Bankers had a brick house valued at $2000 – very possibly the house still at the northeast corner of Meadowview Drive and Doty Hill Road. The Lee house on the map at the northeast corner of NY-40 and Meadowview Road would not have been Jerome Lee’s family, however, but probably the white Lee family of brothers Elliot and John, farmers, with a wood frame house valued at $200.
Though the above area has a lot of trees now, at the time farmlands were common and most of that land was probably quite open. A September 22, 1860 article in the Troy Daily Whig about demonstrations in the Village of Schaghticoke favoring the Constitutional Union Party presidential ticket of John Bell and Edward Everett noted “The house of John Banker, near the Depot was brilliantly illuminated from cellar to garret, and its location gave it a fine effect from every direction.”
Jerome Lee enlisted January 9, 1864 in Troy for three years, mustered into the 20th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry. At the time his occupation had been given as a “boatman.” The 20th US Col’d Inf. were organized on Riker’s Island February 9, 1864. For some information, including pictures, regarding the facilities there see e.g.:
“Rikers Island.” Mapping the African American Past. Columbia University.
“NY State’s Civil War ‘U.S. Colored Troops’: Organized, Trained on Rikers & Hart Islands.” New York Correction History Society.
“Rikers Island’s 26th U.S. Colored Troops on parade.” New York Correction History Society.
The lattermost above describes the role that Rev. Henry Highland Garnet of Troy had, in part:
“On the breaking out of the rebellion, [the Rev. Henry Highland Garnet] called upon our young men to take up arms; and as soon as the government decided to receive colored troops, he volunteered as Chaplain to the colored troops on Riker’s Island, under the auspices of the Union Loyal League Club. He served in this capacity until the 20th, 26th, and 31st Regiments of United States Colored Troops marched to the field. During this time, without interruption of his pastoral duties, he organized a Ladies’ Committee for the Aid of Sick Soldiers, and established a hospital kitchen on Riker’s Island.”
For some additional links concerning the 20th USCT see e.g. http://princetonusct.blogspot.com/2007/05/20th-united-states-colored-infantry.html
Jerome Lee at some point was “confined for 6 months for committing “assault + battery” in Fort Pickens, Santa Rosa Island, Florida – further research would be needed to determine what exactly the event had involved. He was with the company when mustered out in New Orleans, Louisiana on October 7, 1865.
His place of death was given as “P. H. [Private Hospital?] Draft Rendez Harts Isld. N.Y.H. [New York Harbor]” and date of death as November 7, 1865, cause of death “Typhoid Fever.” He might have been buried on the island as a number of soldiers were: “Hart Island Potter’s Field Former Graveyard for Civil War Vets.”
His mother filed for a pension on September 19, 1890. The upright marble headstone in the Lansingburgh Village Burying Ground was ordered by Rensselaer County Superintendent of Burials of Indigent Soldiers, Sailors and Marines Mrs. Frankie L. Martis in 1929. As there is no known record of a reinterment from Hart’s Island or Cypress Hills to Lansingburgh, the headstone would seem to be serving as a cenotaph. An error Superintendent Martis made “20th Reg. N.Y.S. Volunteers” (rather than 20th U.S. Col’d Inf.) combined with an error in fulfilling the order resulted in the headstone having “30 N.Y. INF.” on it. The flat granite marker obtained through the work of the late Gordon Brown of the Lansingburgh Historical Society correctly has “20 US COL’D INFANTRY.”