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DeWitt Family Cemetery

LaFayette, Onondaga Co., NY

Located on the east side of Jamesville-Apulia Rd. near Coye Rd.

Submitted by Dick Rose

This information was taken from a paper presented to the Onondaga Historical Association entitled "Major Moses DeWitt and His Relatives in Onondaga Co." by the Rev. W. M. Beauchamp in 1918. This was from the collections of the Onondaga Historical Association.  (For the complete version, please click here)

"Many years ago I visited a ruined cemetery a mile south of Jamesville, and west of the reservoir through which flows Butternut Creek.  A short climb of 10 feet from the road on one side, and of 30 feet from the railroad on the other, brings one to the top of a gravel ridge, forming a broad plateau, 100 feet long by 80 wide.  At the southern end the gravel has been removed to the depth of 40 feet.  I wrote at the time these words: "One might easily pass the old cemetery unobserved, though close to both public highway and railroad, so overgrown is it with sumacs and native weeds, but through these one white stone appears, and search reveals several more.  Some are yet standing; others have fallen...  The spot is sightly but for its neglected appearance."

 I did not then speak of the prospect.  South and southwest of the picturesque reservoir are the La Fayette and Pompey Hills.  Almost due east are the Kasoongkta Flats: the word meaning Bark in the water, a name sometimes given to the old Indian town, because bark was always kept in the creek in readiness for building cabins.  These rich fields were afterward called after Morehouse, the first settler there, whose daughter was the second white child born in the county.  These fertile flats had been cultivated by the Onondagas.  There Moses DeWitt Rose had his law office in 1806.

 East of the reservoir and the road is the broad site of the historic Onondaga Castle, founded in 1682, burned in 1696, but at once rebuilt, for Col. Romer visited it in 1700, on his famous journey, and placed it on his map.

 It is a little difficult to locate every part of Count Frontenac's march from the Salt Springs to this spot, but easier to imagine his camp, as the tents were pitched where the cabins had stood, and brilliant French uniforms were contrasted with the barbaric splendor of their savage allies.  Many an incident of that forest march and of the camp at the desolated town has been described and preserved.

 One large broken tombstone in the cemetery at first seems to have fallen, but Clark said, 70 years ago, that this grave was "covered with a marble slab," suitable inscribed.  It is in the center of the plateau, and is 3 feet wide by 6 1/4 long, with fluted edges.  It records the deaths of three brothers, and the full inscription reads:

"Here lie interred / the remains of / Moses DeWitt / Major of Militia and a Judge / of the County Courts; / one of the first, most active, and useful / Settlers of this County / He was born on the 15th of October, 1766 / and died on the 25th day of August, 1794. /
"Also of his Brother / Egbert DeWitt, / Born on the 20th April, 1768 / and died on the 30th May, 1793.
"Jacob R. DeWitt, Esq., died Dec. 18th, 1821, in the forty-sixth year of his age."

 I then found a small flag marking the grave, probably placed there on the last Memorial day, and this may have been continued.  Moses was in his 17th year when the Revolutionary war closed, but his influential family connections make it certain that he even then had some share in public affairs.  There were stirring events around his early home in Fort DeWitt.

 I have spoken particularly of the spot and its surroundings because, some years ago, I went with a party of our members to look it over, with a view to its ownership and preservation.  We could not readily ascertain the title, and the matter was temporarily laid aside.  Three years ago it came up again through an offer from the railroad to convey the property to us by deed of gift, if we would see it cared for.  The plan has not yet been carried out."
"Moses DeWitt's youngest brother, Jacob Rutsen, born in 1775, married Rachel Hardenberg Sept. 1, 1799.  She was born May 11. '75 and died Oct. 2, 1881.  Two of their children lie in the ruined cemetery, where the stones remain.  These are of Jane, died Dec. 10, 1822, aged 20 years, 2m., and Locky, died Nov. 27, '23, aged 18,11,15.  The latter is a family name."
"In the old cemetery are stones for the following De Puys: Moses, who died Nov. 8, 1816, aged 18,7,12; Esther, wife of James I. Depuy and daughter of Andrew and Sally Kimber, who died Sept. 5, 1822, in her 24th year; three infant children of James I. and Eveline De Puy, 1827-28-29; Samuel S. their son, died Sept. 20, 1843, aged 3,7,27; Robert B. De Puy, died Dec. 2, 1834; Jesse C., son of Robert B. and Ann De Puy, died Dec. 10, 1830, aged 3,8,5."
"One stone in the old cemetery tells of Jesse D. Rose, who died June 10, 1828, aged 30,1,3, possibly either son or brother of Moses DeWitt Rose, the lawyer.  The latter made his will Feb. 8, 1817, and it was probated Mar. 10th.  His wife, Deborah, was a legatee, and four grandchildren, Moses DeWitt Rose, and DeWitt, Robert Burnet, and Samuel, sons of Samuel Merritt.  It is a little puzzling that a newspaper of the same date records the death of Mrs. Moses D. Rose, aged 25."

Submitted 25 August 2000