Cemeteries of Cazenovia, Fenner, and Nelson (Madison County, NY)
Daniel H. Weiskotten
Last Modified November 21, 2000
Please read this introduction, but feel free to
click here to go directly to the township links
One of my most ambitious projects
in studying the towns of Cazenovia, Fenner, and Nelson, began as a "simple"
project to locate and research the histories of the cemeteries in the three
townships. As part of an anthropological/demographic/mortality study
that I wished conduct, I began to gather the data on all of the cemeteries
and compile all of the extant lists. With the old cemetery transcripts
in hand I immediately began to realize that there were a great many discrepancies
in the old lists and what I knew to be in some of the cemeteries.
A formal comparison of an old list and one of the cemeteries showed that
nearly 75% of the entries were in error, with misspelled names, transposed
numbers, omissions, or that information that was not on the stone (and
not sourced) had been added to the list by unknown persons. Many
of the old lists were rife with errors, some cemeteries had never been
recorded, and most of the lists were now approaching several decades old.
This caused me to question all of the lists and it was clearly necessary
to revise my plans to include a total re-transcription of all the cemeteries
in the three townships.
I had done some research
on the local cemeteries in the early 1980s but the "Cazenovia, Fenner,
and Nelson Cemetery Project" began in earnest in 1993 and the field investigations
(mapping and transcription) of the cemeteries was carried out through the
spring and fall of 1994, with historical research and follow-up field checks
continuing through the 1995. Throughout this period and to the present
day I have been slowly pecking away at the mountain of data that has accumulated
and, while I am far from having my initial mortality study complete, I
am finally able to feel comfortable about making some of my final cemetery
transcripts and histories available for other researchers.
It can be argued that the
old lists are valuable, but this is only partly true (they contain data
for many stones now missing - over 230 stones in the three towns!) and
the many errors in the old lists make them very dangerous to use for research.
Imagine the poor genealogist who is searching for Cornelia A. Beckwith
daughter of James and Rhoda Beckwith, who died September 21, 1835, at the
age of 16 years: she will never be found on the old lists as she is recorded
by three separate compilers as Rhoda Becher
, died 1855
of the compilers did have her death date correct). Or perhaps the
case of Marcia Bramer
, wife of David Bramer, who died June 2, 1831,
age 37 years (which data is confirmed by church records) who is recorded
by Gallup (1951) as Marcia Bradley, wife of David Bradley, died June
24, 1837, age 37 years
; and Peters (1960) has Hardita Granter, wife
of David Granter, died January 26, 1833, age 37 years
- only her first
name, her husband's first name, and her age agree!
Errors in the old transcription
lists varied greatly: those by the DAR being the worst, and those of Roberta
Hendrix and the staff at Lorenzo State Historic Site are almost flawless.
In my first few field checks of the old lists I found that the majority
of the entries had errors which made them useless to genealogists and demographers.
In the Ballou Cemetery in Fenner 24 of the 26 headstones had errors in
their transcription, the Tog Hill cemetery in Nelson was found to have
errors on 6 of the 13 transcriptions, and in Cazenovia's Union Cemetery
61 out of 107 stones that are still in the cemetery had errors in the old
Besides the errors in the
lists I quickly discovered that instructions for finding the cemeteries
was entirely lacking, in error by many miles, were so vague as to be meaningless,
or were confused by the use of the same name for several cemeteries.
The problems with naming and locating the cemeteries was especially apparent
in the town of Fenner where several cemeteries took on the appellation
of being located in the vicinity of Fenner Corners. In other examples
the cemeteries were named for the nearest geographical name and thus we
have two different "Bingley," two "Pompey Hollow," three "Mile Strip,"
and three "North Cazenovia" cemeteries! Besides the occurrence of
multiple cemeteries on land owned or occupied by the Pickard, Chaphe/Chaffe,
and the Lyon and Lyons families. On top of the farm/owner problem,
many of these farms had changed hands since the lists were made and a great
deal of effort was expended in determining where such places as the "former
Aiden Grant Farm" had been. When dealing with the identifying names
of the old lists it was too often necessary to pull out several lists and
compare them to make sure that they weren't transcripts of the same cemeteries!
In making my transcriptions
of the Cazenovia, Fenner, and Nelson Cemeteries, I had the old lists in
hand and am thus sure that what I read on the stone is indeed different
than what was recorded on the old list. For that reason I adamantly
say that my recent work is far superior to any that had been done before.
That is not to say, however, that mine are perfect, and on occasion I find
errors in my own work which I promptly fix. Should you find an error,
or have a question about one of my entries, please feel free to contact
and I will be very happy to resolve any problems.
While the goal of my project
has nothing to do with genealogy, it has a great deal to do with local
history, and it has generated a great resource for genealogists who are
searching for their ancestors who lived and died in the hills of Cazenovia,
Fenner, and Nelson. I can assure that these lists are far more complete
than any before them and thus will note that The
transcriptions I made in 1994 are based on these lists with corrections
and are meant to REPLACE
the old lists!!!!
In instances where stones
are no longer to be found I have made reference to the data that is given
on the old lists so that it is clear that it is not my observation.
Many of the old lists, compiled by the DAR, Clezzie Gallup, and Meyer et
al. are posted by Douglas J. Ingalls
and Mike Hollingsworth
and are also cross-linked where I make reference in these pages.
click here to go to:
Click here to go back to the Cazenovia, Fenner, and Nelson RootsWeb Main Page
an Also Known As list of cemetery names for easy cross referencing
(these are cemeteries within 1 mile of the border of the three towns)
cemetery lists are posted and the Sheds Cemetery
was posted by the late Mike Hollingsworth)