A brief history of the formation
and maintenance of the Welsh Church Union Cemetery.
According to Madison County history, it states that the north-east part of the Town of Nelson was settled first and the location of the church was made a field of religious endeavor soon after the settlement of this Town, probably before 1800 by the English Presbyterians and English Baptists, though both organizations have long ceased to exist.
The church and cemetery are located on lot No. 49 on the farm now owned by Lee R. Murray, the first owner of this farm was Seth Curtis who purchased it from the Holland Land Co. Sept. 16, 1793. Many of our present day citizens have inquired why the church and cemetery are located so far from our busy highway (US Route 20), the truth is, one of the first directly west state roads built about 1795 passed directly south of it before the Cherry Valley Turnpike was built in 1806. Early historical records refer to it as the "Old State Road".
The English Presbyterians built the first meeting house, records show that they were active in 1813, how much earlier we are not advised. Many of these pioneers sleep in unmarked graves in the old part of the cemetery. The oldest marker in the cemetery known to us today marks the grave of Mary S. daughter of Arisabulus and Experience Smith who died March 8, 1809.
There are also markers showing the last resting place of many of the first settlers, who came here from the New England States. Among them to name a few are family names prominent in Town of Nelson early history, Knox, Hamilton, Keith, Smith, Curtis, Lovejoy, Card, Cook, Kiney, Maxium, Sayles, and Booth.
The oldest marker with a Welsh name on it, is Samuel Jones who died March 11, 1830. One of his descendants Mrs. LeRoy Tarr lives in Waterloo, N.Y. and she also has relatives in Madison and Earlville. Many generations of Welsh families have been buried there down through the years.
The English Presbyterians disbanded their society on February 13, 1848. The English Baptists also used the church, at a meeting held on March 19, 1839, the First Free Baptist Union Society was formed, the trustees were authorized to procure a lease for the meeting house and burying grounds for the benefit of said Society and Town. This Society also disbanded and a deed dated July 5, 1853 shows that this Society in consideration of one dollar paid by the Welsh Congregational Church in the Town of Nelson, N.Y. the receipt of which is hereby acknowledged, do hereby sell, transfer and fully surrender unto the said church, or to the trustees that may be appointed or chosen by said church and to their successors in office, all our right, title, interest or claim in and to said meeting house, reserving to ourselves and to the inhabitants of the neighborhood, and vicinity, the right and privilege of holding funerals in said house whenever it may be needed for that purpose.
The first meetings of the Welsh Society were held in homes about 1848. The Society was fully organized June 22, 1850.
In 1876 the old meeting house was moved and remodelled into a residence and the present church was built. This was during the pastorate of Rev. Griffith Jones. The old residence was destroyed by fire March 28, 1946.
Early records of the cemetery show that a meeting was held July 12, 1862 for the purpose of organizing a cemetery association. It was voted by a majority of those present that it be known as the Union Cemetery Association of the Town of Nelson, R.S.Cook acted as chairman, L.D.Knox, secretary.
As years passed by, committees were named from time to time to make improvements. At a meeting held in 1865 it was resolved to build a stone wall around the north and west sides of the burial ground. At a meeting held in 1896 it was resolved to build a one strand wire fence on the west side with posts 1 rod apart, evidently cattle or sheep were able to jump over the stone wall.
On February 10, 1887, a deed was recorded that William Richards sold for the consideration of $1.00 that part which for many years was known as the new part north of the old cemetery, the premises were conveyed on the express condition that a lawful fence be maintained around it and that the gate at the entrance be kept closed.
In 1925 a small parcel of land north of the church was purchased from Morgan Lloyd and in 1938, more land was purchased from Morgan Lloyd and Lee E. Murray.
On June 20, 1924, a special meeting was held to vote on incorporating the cemetery for the purpose of establishing a perpetual care fund, all present voted in favor. On November 14, 1925 a certificate of incorporation was filed at the Secretary of State Office in Albany. There are now 89 lots under perpetual care. A major portion of this fund is invested in government bonds and the remainder in savings banks.
In 1954 one of our faithful trustees donated and built a cement block vault which is an added improvement and convenience.
At the annual meeting which is held on the last Tuesday of April of each year, officers are elected, sexton appointed, date is set for a work bee which consists of grading, levelling markers and general cleanup. Also plans for raising funds.
The grounds and surroundings are kept neat, the gleaming white tomb stones and the church with its lofty spire give it a tranquil and peaceful appearance. It is hoped that the following generations yet unborn will continue to care for and preserve this historic spot.