Land Company Records for the property indicate that all 150 acres of
Lot 168 was originally sold to Samuel Swift on August 1, 1793. Swift
was not the final purchaser as Joseph Bowen paid off the last of the debt
in 1805, and in fact Company records indicate that in 1800 the lot was
occupied by "Tho.s Clark + Eben.r Lyon", in 1801 by "Clark & Lyon",
and in 1802 and 1803 by Joshua Lord. On February 6, 1805 Joseph Bowen
paid the debt on the lot in full, and he seems to have sold part of it
soon thereafter as in 1806 the lot was occupied by "Bowen & Drinkwater".
(I have no idea who "Drinkwater" is!)
Richard Carley purchased all 150 acres of Lot 169 on August 1, 1793 but he did not make the final payment on the lot. Holland Land Company records indicate that Thomas Clark occupied the lot in 1800 and 1801, in 1802 by "Richardson & Daniels", 1803 by "Daniels & Richardson." Aaron and Allen Daniels made two payments on the lot in March 1804 and on December 9, 1805 "A. Daniels" had paid the lot off in full, thus in 1806 the lot was occupied by "A. Allen &c."
Land Company Records place Francis Norton on Lot 24 of the Road Township
(about 2 miles southeast of Cazenovia Village) before 1800. This
lot had originally been taken by Ebenezer Merrick in 1793, but other records
show that Francis Norton was on Lot 24 of the Road Township in 1800, 1801,
1802, and 1803. Norton made payments toward the debt on the lot as
late as September 20, 1805, but by 1806 it was occupied by Benjamin Sweet.
Federal census records and analysis of the neighbors who lived around him indicate that by 1810 Francis Norton lived about a mile north of his former place and about a mile and a half southeast of the Village of Cazenovia (somewhere in the southwest corner of the Road Township Reservation).
By 1820 Francis Norton had moved to the Town of Nelson and was living on what was to be known for several generations as the Norton Farm, and where this cemetery is said to have been located.
In a recent research project
involving the carvers
of early shale tombstones, I found that stones made of this locally
quarried material fell out of favor when easily carved marble could be
brought in quite cheaply from Vermont via the Erie Canal. In areas
such as Erieville, which is moderately close to the Erie Canal, the change
from local to imported stone took place by 1830. This would mean
that for there to have been shale stones in the Norton Cemetery, where,
as Hammond (1872) says could be seen the quaint head-stones so generally
in use fifty years and more ago the burials would have had to have been
made before about 1830. All of this (materials and dates) indicates
that it is unlikely that the missing Nortons are buried here.
Although it now seems likely that none of the Norton family are buried in this cemetery, in my initial research I made a search of the Norton family genealogy files at the Cazenovia Public Library; local history books, cemetery records in Cazenovia, Fenner, and Nelson, and census records for the Town of Nelson to find out about the Nortons and where they are buried. What I found was that most of the Norton family members that died in this vicinity are buried in Evergreen Cemetery (in Cazenovia), Erieville Cemetery (about one mile north), or Wyss Cemetery (in Fenner). Donna Burdick, Town of Smithfield Historian, tells me that Dr. Joel Norton and his wife Sophia are buried in the Peterboro Village Cemetery (he died in Newport RI, so he may not be buried there). Burdick also informed me that an old list by the DAR (careful!) shows that there are several children of Joel and Sophia Norton in Peterboro, with death dates ranging from 1816 to 1841, indicating that Joel's primary residence was in the Peterboro area.
The progenitors of the Norton
family, Francis and Sally Norton died much too late (1858 and 1863 respectively)
to have had tombstones that are carved of local shale as indicated by Hammond's
history and Jack Miner's memory. Although they may have been buried
here on their farmstead, their stones would have been of marble and are
more likely to have survived and be remembered. It is likely, therefore,
that the stones that were seen were for other earlier settlers who died
before 1830 or so when marble from distant Vermont became the strict choice
for tombstone material.
Norton, Celestia, wife of Joel Norton (may be Sophia Norton who is burid
in Peterboro Village Cemetery)
Norton, Davis, son of Francis and Sally Norton, (wife Lydia Norton buried in Erieville).
Norton, Francis, died 1858 (father of family, owner of farm).
Norton, Sally, wife of Francis Norton, died 1863, age 80.
Also, since at least one
stone was seen perhaps 30 years ago and also that the only available list
Cemetery inscriptions was made in 1915, it may be that the stones of
the Norton Cemetery were, between 1915 and 1960, moved to the Erieville
Cemetery and do not appear on any transcript list. Providing
all the more reason to update that list!
Except for the brief land history presented above I have not yet researched the families that owned the property before the Nortons came along about 1820, but that may be the place to look if the identities of those who had been buried here are to be found. Also, when the Erieville Cemetery list is corrected a special notice of old stones which are in the cemetery now but which do not appear on the old list (meaning they were moved to the cemetery after 1915) might also help identify the people who were in the "Norton Cemetery" - especially if any of those stones are of shale!