New York’s first state troopers rode horses, bunked in rooming houses while on patrol and communicated via telephone party lines. They kept the peace during labor strife despite being outnumbered and outgunned by strikebreakers and company guards.
But many of the 232 original “Gray Riders” were buried in unmarked graves or plots that gave no indication they had served in the New York State Police. Retired state police Sgt. Kevin Kailbourne is leading an effort to rectify that through his ongoing effort to mark the graves of every state trooper with a special emblem, including those of the men who became the first troopers in 1917.
So far, they have identified the graves of more than 200 of the original 232 troopers. The latest is Byron E. Hupman Sr., who died in 1962 and was buried in an unmarked grave in a cemetery in Whitehall, on the Vermont border. Hupman served 15 months as a trooper, leaving the agency in October 1918 to serve in World War I. A dedication ceremony for a new gravestone was held Sunday at Hupman’s gravesite.
Kailbourne started his project in the late 1990s and was able to devote more time to it after retiring at the end of 2004. Since then, he has compiled a database of some 3,200 deceased troopers, including 210 of the original “Gray Riders.”
“We all have a common bond wearing this uniform,” said Tom Mungeer, president of the Police Benevolent Association. “They all served the people of New York state and they should be remembered for that duty.”