It is like something right out of an award-winning film.
My friend took me on a mini road trip down the backroads of South Dansville. Along the way she is telling me to look for something that has no earthly business being among the trees and hilltops.
My mind is wandering as I imagine all the ways this can go down. Maybe we will find an abandoned rusted out train in the middle of the woods, remains of an historic building, or a big black rock by a giant oak tree.
Finally, after getting lost a couple of times, my friend pulls into an outlet off the side of the road, and before my eyes is a giant stone cross.
I immediately jump into action.
I bust out my smartphone, take selfies, and every possible angle of the cross.
My friend asks me to find out the story behind it, and my imagination is running wild.
I talk to some local people who had some connection to it.
There are a few publications of the old stone cross on Acomb Road, but I was told a lot of the information was inaccurate.
Many rumors have been attached to the cross and the grounds it stands on.
However, the fact is this is the old site of one of the earliest catholic churches in the entire county. In 1836 the church was completed and named Church of Blessed Virgin Mary of the Most Holy Rosary by the locals.
“Massive Crosses Hallow Site Where Area Settlers Prayed” by Laura Armstrong is a fantastic in depth story about the church, cemetery, and cross.
In this well-documented story, Armstrong discusses the importance of this church, and what it meant to the entire area.
Mostly German immigrants settled in this area back in those days, and this served as a way for them all to worship. Back in those days people had to hitch a wagon and take their horses down the long path to worship.
The church burned down in the mid-1800s, and was replaced down in Perkinsville.
The early settlers and church goers were buried on that hill, and some of the bodies were taken down to Sacred Heart in Perkinsville.
Many believe there are still bodies buried up on that hill behind the stone cross.
There was a wooden cross that marked the spot in the late 1800s and early 1900s, but it eventually withered away.
Around 1949 a man made a promise to his mother to put a cross back on Sandy Hill.
Ferdinand Morsch built a beautiful white stone cross with some help from Jacob Yochum. The two men began clearing out the area, and trying to breath new life into a long forgotten piece of local history.
A few years back the community saw the old stone cross start to fade, and a local man named Michael Landino patched it up.
Many people have enjoyed a picnic up by the cross over the decades. Sandy Booth told me one of her favorite memories.
“My favorite memories of the Stone Cross is from when my parents would pack up us kids and go up there for a Sunday drive,” she said. “Sometimes we'd pack a picnic basket lunch, and we'd spread a blanket near the cross and spend some time talking about the German families that came here and worshiped there. We would sometimes pick blueberries across the way from the cross. It was always such a peaceful and pleasant place.”
The property is still owned by the Holy Family Catholic Community.
Out of all the mysteries, rumors, and stories of the old stone cross and the land it sits on the one that remains true is that this is sacred to the hearts of all who witness it.
(Jasmine Willis is a reporter for Genesee Country Express)