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, (one 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 transcripts.
        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 me 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:
an Also Known As list of cemetery names for easy cross referencing
Cazenovia Cemeteries
Fenner Cemeteries
Nelson Cemeteries
Peripheral Cemeteries
            (these are cemeteries within 1 mile of the border of the three towns)
            (my Beach, Delphi Falls, and Pease cemetery lists are posted and the Sheds Cemetery was posted by the late Mike Hollingsworth)
 

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