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Some Monuments at Pioneer and Forest Hill

By Douglas Shepard

Barker Historical Museum

(Media reports on monuments in Pioneer and Forest Hill, including Adams, Barker, Franklin, Jones, Matteson, Walworth, Abell, and Risley. Other names mentioned are Lowell, Tackett, Sykes, Smith, Mace, Hough, Damon, Cutler, Turner, MacDonald, Tucker, Forbes, and Loomis.)

The Town of Pomfret Board, in May 1907, appointed Sherman J. Lowell to take charge of all the Town cemeteries and "put them into proper condition." Within a month there was great controversy over trees cut down, myrtle uprooted, etc. As part of the cleanup, however, an old vault was to be repaired. In the course of that repair work, the vault's contents came to light, causing some consternation. The Dunkirk Observer of 10 June 1907 reported the following:

The reported "sensational find" of five bodies in the supposedly unused vault in the old cemetery facing on Main Street, Fredonia proves to have been nothing out of the ordinary in any sense of the word. The vault in question is very old, and was originally built as a three party affair, one section belonging to the family of John Q. Adams, one to that of Morris Adams and the other to a brother in law of the Adams family, named Franklin, all former residents of Fredonia. In the Franklin section there were found caskets containing the five bodies referred to. All were in proper condition, two being in metal caskets, and all showing evidence of having been laid to rest by loving hands.

The discovery was made by reason of the bad condition of the vault. It has a brick arched interior, with stone front, the wooden door being protected above by a stone slab. This slab was broken in the middle. Workmen who are cleaning up the cemetery, under orders of the town board, came to this, and found that the doorway must be fixed, which they started to do, by building a column under the stone slab, of cement blocks. This was competent, and the doorway was being put back in shape, when part of the brick vaulted roof of the vault caved in inside. This showed the brick work to be in such condition that it was dangerous to leave it and the heirs of the original owners of the vault were communicated with, and they have given permission to have it destroyed, and the place filled up, and leveled over.

To do this, it was necessary to explore the interior, and the five bodies mentioned were found, and will be properly re-interred.

The Fredonia Censor of 12 June 1907 followed up with this:

Morris Adams Family Tomb is the familiar inscription over the door of the old vault in the village burying ground. One branch of the family, Dr. D.D. Franklin, lost five children and the caskets were never removed. All the others were buried long ago. These will also be buried and the vault will be razed as it has become unsafe. 

Franklin and the Water Cure

Daniel D. Franklin of Leon married Miss Perthena Adams, sister to John Q. and eldest daughter of Morris Adams "of lower Temple Street"on 2 July 1840 (FC 7-8-1840; Observer 8-5-1937)

By 1841 he had a "cabinet store" on Temple Street on land purchased by Morris Adams for Perthena. DDF and his wife then moved to Ohio, returning in 1853 as "Dr. D.D. Franklin." In July 1853 he was putting up a large brick building (57-63 Temple Street) for a Water Cure establishment. (Miss Ellen Adams, in the 1937 Observer piece, said that Dr. John Q. Adams was his partner in the enterprise. However, only Franklin's name appears in the ads and documents.)

I.H. Tackett was a copartner as of 1 August 1855, from which he withdrew on 11 August. (FC 8-21-1855)

The property was sold at a foreclosure sale on 29 November 1856. Mrs.Franklin died in Corry PA on 16 March 1896. Daniel Franklin died there two days later. They were buried together in a grave in Forest Hill Cemetery. His obituary (FC 3-25-1896) states that he "and his brother-in-law built the tomb on the south corner of the old cemetery many years ago, but neither rests in it."

The Censor lists only the deaths of Sarah Jane, "only child of" on 5-4-1844, almost three years old, and Helen M.,"only child of" who died on 9-16-1845, 7 weeks old.

From The Fredonia Censor of 28 August 1849:

The following notice of the Barker Monument, we find in the Westfield Messenger, of week before last, which we inadvertently neglected to notice before:

Having occasion to visit Fredonia, last week, we were really gratified that quite "the Lion" of the day was a noble monument, just erected in the grave-yard of the town to the memory of Gen. L. Barker and members of his family, the workmanship of Mr. Hiram Sykes, of this village [Westfield]…

[The Messenger issue must have been around 14 August, the "visit" around 7 August 1849.]

Pioneer / 1856 / Jones / Smith & Mace / Forest Hill

The Fredonia Censor of 6 August 1856:

HANDSOME MONUMENT. In passing through the old cemetery of our village, a few days since, we noticed a new and tasteful monument, lately erected to the memory of the late John Jones, Esq. The pedestal is of Lockport stone, and the column and entablature of Italian marble, surmounted by an urn with drapery constructed from the same material. The monument is chaste in its design, and appropriately perpetuates the memory of one of our most respected citizens.

The work was executed at the Marble Factory of Messrs. Smith and Mace in this village, of whose skill as workmen we have before taken occasion to speak.

[John Jones died on 12 December 1852. His remains were later moved to Forest Hill Cemetery, Sec. F, Lot 15. If the monument was also moved there, it has lost its urn.]

1888 / Pioneer / Matteson / Walworth /Cutler / Turner

The Fredonia Censor of 30 May 1888:

NEW MONUMENT A recent addition has just been made to the memorials in the old cemetery by the erection of a beautiful and costly monument to the memory of David J. Matteson and Apphelia (Walworth) his wife. It is the work of the firm of McDonald & Son of Buffalo. The monument, which is Quadrangular in shape, is composed of Quincy Granite and is elegantly finished, sculptured and polished. The inscription briefly records the dates of birth and death of the beloved ones to whose memory it has been erected. When finished it was visited by Mrs. Cutler and her daughter, Mrs. Turner, of Buffalo, who warmly expressed their approval of and satisfaction with what had been done to preserve remembrance of those departed ones who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

Pioneer / 1814 / Abell / Hough / Damon

The Fredonia Censor of 9 June 1909:

Long article, with dim photograph, about the Abell tombstone designed and carved by Martin Damon prior to 1820. The photograph was taken by E.K. Hough "some ten years ago." Capt. Thomas Abell died in Fredonia in 1814.

[The tombstone was replicated. The original was in the Barker Museum basement for some years. Now held by the Town of Pomfret? The Museum has a copy of the photograph.]

Pioneer / Risley /Tucker / Abell / Forbes

The Fredonia Censor of 9 June 1909:

In the Old Cemetery. The violence of those April wind storms was shown by the prostration of the heavy granite slab and urn that mark the grave of the late Gen. Elijah Risley. His grandson, Mr. Risley Tucker of Buffalo, had our marble worker, Geo. Forbes, replace the slab on its pedestal. Visiting the spot we noted that the good work which Sherman J. Lowell did under direction of the town board is now showing its value. He discriminated wisely in the trees that he left standing so there is plenty of shade and also chance for the sunlight to shine upon the grass and make a nice lawn of every lot. Mr. Loomis senior takes good care of the sacred enclosure. We found the old Abell tombstone, which was an object of interest over 80 years, nearly all gone. To preserve its former appearance we had the picture made on page two of this paper.