"Halt! Advance and give the countersign!" So began an 1895 article in The New York Times detailing how William Wilkins was prevented from visiting his ancestral graveyard in Fort Totten, then a Queens military base, by a sentry at the gates.

The fort, Mr. Wilkins insisted to no avail, had once been his family’s rolling farmland and the cemetery on it was still his. It had been retained, he said, by a special provision set out when his father sold the property, which was eventually bought by the military before the Civil War.

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