Sunday, November 2, 2008

Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo, New York

Photo: Birge Memorial, Forest Lawn Cemetery. Digital image. Released to the public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, New York was founded in 1849 as part of the rural cemetery movement which was sweeping the state. With a cholera epidemic appearing within the city limits in 1832 and another in 1849 when 900 people died, the city leaders saw an obvious need to move the burial of the dead to a location as far from the city center as possible. The battle against cholera and other epidemics figured prominently in the mayoral campaigns of that era and despite the establishment of Forest Lawn, a major epidemic would yet again afflict Buffalo in 1854.


The 269 acres committed to Forest Lawn are located within the Buffalo city limits in the northernmost part of the city.


Forest Lawn was organized in 1849 when the first 80 acres were purchased by Charles E. Clarke whose intent was to create a cemetery in the tradition of the English and French cemeteries.

In 1855, Clarke sold the cemetery to the Forest Lawn Cemetery Association which then began acquiring additional acreage from surround landowners, mostly farmers.

In 1865 what has been called the "second phase" of Forest Lawn commenced with laying out major avenues and the undertaking of large landscaping projects.  By 1866 there were 203 acres later to be expanded to the present day 269 acres.


The first dedication took place on August 18, 1850 in a ceremony marked by the participation of various religious, civic and fraternal organizations as well as a very long speech given by then mayor George William Clinton.

With an expanded cemetery, and the reorganization as a private corporation, a second dedication - much more elaborate - was made on September 28, 1866.  Participants included all the major religious clergy of the city, Masonic Orders, the Mayor and the Common Council members.

Transferred Remains

There is no complete or up-to-date list of remains which were transferred from other Buffalo cemeteries to Forest Lawn.

Black Rock Burial Grounds
Cold Spring Burial Grounds
Delaware and North Street Burial Grounds

Famous Burials

Alexander, DeAlva Stanwood - U.S. Congressman

Bass, Lyman Kidd - U.S. Congressman

Becker, Phillip - Mayor of Buffalo

Bell, Lawrence Dale - founder of Bell Aircraft

Berlin, Dorothy Goetz - first wife of composer Irving Berlin

Brent, John E. - Buffalo's first African-American architect

Butler, John Cornelius - U.S. Congressman

Carrier, Willis Haviland - invented the first air conditioner and founder of Carrier Air Conditioner Corporation

Chisholm, Shirley - U.S. Congresswoman

Clinton, George Wilson - Mayor of Buffalo

Cook, Frederick Albert - discovered the North Pole in 1908

Daniels, Charles - U.S. Congressman

Dorsheimer, William - U.S. Congressman, Lieutenant Governor of New York

Fargo, William - transportation pioneer, part of Wells Fargo

Farquhar, John McCreath - U.S. Congressman

Fillmore, Abigail Powers - First Lady, wife of Millard Fillmore

Fillmore, Millard - 13th President, United States

Ganson, John - U.S. Congressman

Hall, Lawrence Washington - U.S. Congressman

Hall, Nathan Kelsey - U.S. Congressman

Harter, John Francis - U.S. Congressman

Hatch, Israel Thomas - U.S. Congressman

Haven, Solomon George - U.S. Congressman

Hinson, Sara M. - founder of Flag Day

James, Rick - R&B Singer, "Super Freak"

Jewett, Edgar Boardman - U.S. Congressman

Knox Jr., Seymour Horace - founder with Frank W. Woolworth of the 'Woolworth and Knox 5 and 10 Cent Stores"

Lockwood, Daniel Newton - U.S. Congressman

Love, Thomas Cutting - U.S. Congressman

MacGregor, Clarence - U.S. Congressman

Moseley, William Abbott - U.S. Congressman

Pierce, Ray Vaughan - U.S. Congressman

Sedita, Frank A. - Mayor of Buffalo

Southwick, Alfred - inventor of the Electric Chair

Spaulding, Elbridge Gerry - U.S. Congressman

Stone, Alfred Parish - U.S. Congressman

Street, Edward - humorist and author of "Father of the Bride"

Tolley, Harold S. - U.S. Congressman

Waldow, William Frederick - U.S. Congressman

Weber, John Baptiste - U.S. Congressman

Williams, William - U.S. Congressman


Organized: 1849
Dedicated: August 18, 1850 and rededicated on September 28, 1866
Location: Buffalo, Erie County, New York
Size: 269 acres
Active: Yes


Publications of the Buffalo Historical Society, Buffalo, NY: Bigelow Brothers, 1879.  Publications of the Buffalo Historical Society.  Digitized August 8, 2007, Google Books.  Accessed November 2, 2008.

Forest Lawn: Its History, Dedications, Progress, Regulations, Names of Lot Holders, &c., Buffalo, NY: Thomas, Howard & Johnson, 1867. Forest Lawn. Digitized October 22, 2007, Google Books. Accessed November 2, 2008,


Diane Wright said...

I love the Buffalo story. I have been there and it is great. My ggggrandparents are buried in the French/German section.
A suggestion for a rural cemetery. Go to Portageville, NY to the old Catholic cemetery. It was my favorite.

Anonymous said...

I am sad to find that so many small cemeteries had the burials moved to Forest Lawn and no one seems to know where the records are of those people.

Someone has lost the records of my great-great-grandparents and three of their children.

Someone is getting paid to do a job but is not doing the job.

Anonymous said...

So sad that someone was irresponsible with the records of the small cemetery reburials to Forest Lawn.

I am unable to locate the final resting place of my great-great-grandparents and three of their children.

Someone was paid to do a job and failed miserably.

C.H. said...

I'm from Buffalo (my whole family still lives there). It's great to see a blog entry on Forest Lawn! Can't wait to go home and take another stroll around there. Thanks again for the post.

Unknown said...

While it IS disappointing to not be able to find burial records for our Buffalo area ancestors, I can understand that those involved in setting up Forest Lawn and moving remains from smaller cemeteries were more concerned with the pressing health matters of the day (i.e., Cholera epidemics -- we are here because our ancestors survived them) than with record keeping that might fulfill our research desires some 100+ in the future.