OLD JAMESTOWN CEMETERY

JAMESTOWN, NY

For five years after the settlement of Jamestown in 1810, not a single death occurred in the village.  During that time no steps had been taken to select suitable grounds for a cemetery.  On Nov. 9, 1815, Elisha Wing, a cousin of Judge Prendergast, died at his home and a hurried selection of a site was forced upon the village.  Jacob Fenton, Esq., Capt. William Forbes and a few others conferred and hastily selected a cleared pasture on a high knoll on what is now Fourth Street at its junction with Clinton Street.  It was only accessible by a foot path leading over the fields.  In 1817 Mrs. William Simmons, the mother of Walter Simmons, committed suicide by hanging.  She was the second adult interred in the cemetery. In December 1820 there was a siege of typhus fever which continued through the winter taking a toll of 20 lives.
The people became much dissatisfied with the location and the soil of this cemetery.  It was away from all roads, and the ground was hard and stony.  Carrying a body over the narrow path, especially in winter, had proven very difficult.  Moreover, no lots had been laid out and without that, there was no room for families to lie together.  No stones had been erected and no one knew where their loved ones slept.  The cemetery had never been fenced and the cows wandered through it at will.
Judge Prendergast, seeing the dissatisfaction of the people, proposed abandonment of this site and the selection of a new location. All were in favor of this idea but none could agree on a new location.  Should they locate it near the site of the proposed new Congregational Church in the New England style or should it be outside the village because of sanitation?  Finally, two-thirds of the villagers showed preferment for the location now bounded by present Washington, Fifth, Cherry and Seventh Streets.  This spot is now the James Prendergast Public Library and Dow Park.  Judge Prendergast concurred and deeded the proposed site to the village.
Before the new cemetery could be properly fenced and lots laid out, the first interment took place.  But, mistakenly, the interment was made on a lot diagonally across on Fifth Street on which a resident was preparing to build a new house.  Needless to say he did not relish the mound in his front yard and suit was brought against the family to remove the body.
Prior to 1836 there had been little regularity in the employment of a sexton.  The relatives frequently hired an ordinary laborer to dig the grave.  Hence, the alleys were infringed upon and bodies were often interred in the wrong lots.  There still was no record of burials being kept.  In 1854 it suddenly dawned opon the villagers that in ten years the cemetery would be filled and some new arrangements must be made.  This led to the establishment of Lake View Cemetery in 1859 with definite rules and regulations and the employment of a sexton who was charged with keeping adequate records.  At the dedication one ofthe speakers urged that every grave be properly marked with a durable stone on which would be inscribed not only the date of death, but also his place of birth and name of parents.  What a boon to those tracing their lineage if the people had only followed this last advice.

JAMESTOWN
The Jamestown Journal of Oct. 29, 1875, printed the following list of persons buried in the old cemetery—now the site of the Prendergast Library and Dow Park… and then not removed.
Below we give, as nearly perfect as we can, a record of the burials as attested by the monuments standing then in The Old Cemetery.




QUERIES

A111  Compiling a VanBuskirk genealogy.  Family records show a Joseph VanBuskirk with wife Margaret whose children were born in early 1800s in Jamestown.  Want information regarding this family.  The only data we found about VanBuskirks was the lease in 1897 by the Cassadaga Lake Association to M.H. VanBuskirk of Buffalo of some land adjacent to the large holdings of the Association.  It was the only land record from 1811 to 1900.  There were none in the census records.  Can anyone help us?  IES Indiana

A112  My 3-great grandfather was Immer (Emir) Root, parents unknown.  He was born in New York State in 1806 and in 1850 resided in Crawford Co., PA.  Immer had brothers Elisha, Jeromia, and Joshua who settled around Lake Chautauqua, across the line in New York.  They were dairy men. Want any possible data on Immer Root.  FBK New Mexico

A113  Want data on Henry House who moved to Forestville and lived the rest of his life there.  He died in 1882.  RS Trumansburg, NY.

A114  Desire information on Bela Burroughs, born 16 May (year not given) and his brother Harvey, born 4 Jan. 1798, sons of Porter and Abigail Hawes Burroughs of Dutch Hill, Otisco, NY and Vesper, NY.  Bela settled early  in Brockton, NY., Town of Portland.  Bela had a son, James Harvey, whose eldest daughter, Sylvia Elizabeth, married Fowler Denton Hardenburg and lived in Brocton.  Sylvia was the eldest of 12 children.  Please help me.  TBB Eustis, FL.

A115  Wanted information on my grandparents, Albert Clark Robertson and Lucinda Smith.  He was a Captain in the Civil War.  Want dates, burial place, parents of each.  RCR Pittsfield, MA.

A116  The Winchesters settled in Chautauqua County at an early date.  Many in Ellery, some in Fredonia.  Among 23 children in this family, I know the names of eight:  Elnathan, Marcus, Jonadab, Johtam who married Mary McDuffee, Francis, Ebenezer, Heman, and Hartford, born about 1799 or 1800, died 3 April 1864 aged 64, married Lucy Haskin.  Wanted the names of the other 15 children and data on any or all of them.  Whose children were they?

ANSWERS

A111  VANBUSKIRK.  My sister and I are the daughters of the VanBuskirk mentioned in this query.  We have a genealogy starting in 1655.  If IES of Indiana will contact us we will be most happy to give them what we have if we are of the same family background.  JVBT Ocala, FL.

A112  ROOT.  We were sent a list of Root burials in the Hanover Center Cemetery but none was the Immer (Emir) Root wanted by RS Trumansburg.

A113  HOUSE.  There is a Henry House mentioned in the 1874 County Directory as living in Forestville and as being in business with Hazen House and Nathan Griffin as carriage makers and doing planing work.  There is also an Ambrose House there dealing in groceries and dry goods.

A116  WINCHESTER.  We were sure someone would come forth with data on the Winchester family but no one did.  Fenton Historical Society wants it in its library.  Please share it with us.

A116  WINCHESTER.  One descendant loaned us a box of Winchester material to photostat and another left her name and address for us to contact.  Thank you both.
 


SOURCE: Fenton Historical Society Deserted Cemetery Series.  From the Jamestown Journal 29 March 1969, compiled and written by Edna Ingham