Wednesday, May 20, 2009

New York State Division of Cemeteries

I just stumbled upon the New York State Division of Cemeteries which contains some fascinating information.  I was reading an article in today's New York Times entitled Who Wants To Buy A Cemetery? and not only discovered the website but also some interesting facts:

- New York is one of a handful of states where it is illegal to have a for-profit cemetery; all cemeteries must be run as non-profit organizations;

- New York does not allow a surcharge for winter burials; and

- you can hold fundraisers but they can't include games of chance (i.e., raffles).

One interesting note on the main page would be of interest to genealogists and fellow Graveyard Rabbits:

"Have an interested person write an historical article for publication about your cemetery. Include the fact that the cemetery is organized as a Not- for- Profit Cemetery Corporation and is dependent on volunteers (lot owners) for service on the Board of Directors and in the cemetery for cleanup; and, if applicable, ask for donations."

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Rome Cemetery

The Rome Cemetery was founded as part of the rural cemetery movement in New York State during the 1850s. Typically of many urban cemeteries, Rome Cemetery replaced a burying ground which was deemed to close to the inhabitants of a city which experienced rapid growth due to the construction and operation of the Erie Canal.


The Rome Cemetery is located north of the city and was originally 25 acres in size when opened in 1853. Still an active cemetery, it acreage is now about 140.

Previous Rome Burial Grounds

The old burying ground had been located at Fort Stanwix Park at Turin and North James streets. This cemetery was in use from the 1820's until 1872.


Not much is known of the organization of Rome Cemetery, the original trustees, etc. except for the date of 1851.


The dedication of the Rome Cemetery took place on July 20, 1853 in an elaborate ceremony as reported by the Rome Sentinel.

Transferred Remains

The remains from the old burying ground at Fort Stanwix Park where transfered to the Rome Cemetery between 1853 and 1889. Additional remains were found at Fort Stanwix Park and transferred in 2002 and 2004.

Famous Burials

Bailey, Alexander Hamilton - August 4, 1817 - April 20, 1874, US Congressman

Bellamy, Francis - May 18, 1855 - August 28, 1931, original author of "The Pledge of Allegiance"

Foster, Henry Allen - May 7, 1800 - May 11, 1889, US Congressman and US Senator


Organized: 1851
Dedicated: July 20, 1853
Location: Rome, Oneida County, New York
Size: 140 acres
Map: Map


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Lowville Rural Cemetery, Lowville, New York

The Lowville Rural Cemetery, Lowville, New York, was founded in 1867 as part of the rural cemetery movement in New York.


Lowville is located in far northern New York bordering on the Adirondack region in Lewis County. The Lowville Rural Cemetery is on a hill overlooking the village of Lowville near what was once Mills' Creek.


The Lowville Rural Cemetery Association was formed on January 26, 1867 and its articles of incorporation where filed on January 28, 1867.

James L. Leonard and Dr. Frank B. Hough were instrumental in the creation of the Lowville Rural Cemetery however Mr. Leonard died before the organization was officially formed. Part of Mr. Leonard's vision for a cemetery included the purchase of 25 acres of land prior to his death. Sometime later Leonard's heirs transferred the land to the association via a quit-claim deed. In addition, 11 acres of land were purchased from Charles S. Rice, 3.5 acres from George Jackson and more land from Morris D. Moore.

As of 1902, the Lowville Rural Cemetery Association was not in debt and had reserves of close to $7,000.


The Lowville Rural Cemetery was dedicated on October 9, 1867

Famous Burials

Burk, Thomas - (1840 - 1926), Civil War Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient

Dayan, Charles - (1792 - 1877), United States Congressman, Lieutenant Governor of New York, served in New York Legislature.

Doig, Andrew Wheeler - (1799 - 1875), United States Congressman and served in New York Legislature.

Knapp, Charles Luman - (1847 - 1929), United States Congressman and served in the New York State Senate.


Organized: January 26, 1867
Dedicated: October 9, 1867
Location: Lowville, New York
Size: Unknown
Active: Yes
Map: Map
Website: Find a Grave - Lowville Rural Cemetery


Breen, William B. Lowville, Yesterday, To-day and To-morrow. History and Directory Of Both Town and Village. Lowville, NY: Lowville Times, 1902, pp. 50-51. Brigham Young University, Provo, UT accessed December 28, 2008

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Oakwood Cemetery, Syracuse, New York

Oakwood Cemetery, Syracuse, New York, was founded in 1859 as part of the rural cemetery movement in New York.


Located on the north side of the city of Syracuse, prior to Oakwood, burials were made at Rose Hill Cemetery on 11.8 acres. But while the plan followed the trend of other cemeteries in terms of being located either outside the city limits or on the edges of those limits, many people found the spot inaccessible and lacking in the natural beauty which many newer rural cemeteries could claim.

With land purchases in the southern section of the city in 1857 and 1858, 92 acres would be added and construction would begin with the help of Howard Daniels, a noted landscape architect. Over time close to 75 more acres would be purchased.


The Oakwood Cemetery Association (formally "The Officers and Trustees of the Association of Oakwood") was formed on August 15, 1859 with Elias Warner Leavenworth, the cemetery's main proponent, as president.


The dedication of Oakwood Cemetery took place on November 3, 1859 and like similar ceremonies in other large New York cities such as Buffalo and Albany, the ceremony encompassed almost every aspect of Syracuse. Schools closed for the day as well as public offices. And the first burial took place five days later on November 8, 1859 and the first monument was erected in 1860.

Famous Burials

Andrews, Mary Raymond - Novelist

Avery, Matthew Henry - Civil War Union Brevet Brigadier General

Barnum, Henry Alanson - Civil War Union Brigadier General, Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient

Baumgras, Peter - Artist

Belden, James Jerome - U.S. Congressman

Bennett, David Smith - U.S. Congressman

Blackwell, Carlyle - Actor, Director

Crosier, William Henry Harrison - Civil War Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient.

Davis, Thomas Treadwell - U.S. Congressman

Driscoll, Michael Edward - U.S. Congressman

Earll, Nehemiah Hezekiah - U.S. Congressman

Franklin, Herbert H. – Inventor

Geddes, James - U.S. Congressman

Granger, Amos Phelps - U.S. Congressman

Heermans, Forbes – Author

Hiscock, Frank - U.S. Congressman

Hough, William Jervis - U.S. Congressman

Kenyon, John Snyders - Civil War Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient

Kirkpatrick, William - U.S. Congressman

Kritz, Karl – Conductor

Laflin, Addison Henry - U.S. Congressman

Leavenworth, Elias Warner - U.S. Congressman

Peck, John James - Civil War Union Major General

Poole, Theodore Lewis - U.S. Congressman

Sedgwick, Charles Baldwin - U.S. Congressman

Stickley, Gustav - Furniture maker and pioneer of the American Arts & Crafts Movement

Sumner Sr., Edwin Vose - Civil War Union Major General

Tracy, William Gardner - Civil War Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient

White, Horace – Governor of New York


Organized: August 15, 1859
Dedicated: November 3, 1859
Location: Syracuse, New York
Size: 160 acres
Active: Yes


Photo albums - various cemeteries (Oakwood, Boonville, Mt. Adnah) from Old Fulton NY Postcards:

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,

Friday, October 24, 2008

Albany Rural Cemetery

The Albany Rural Cemetery was one of the first rural cemeteries in the state of New York and with the burial of Chester A. Arthur, the 21st President of the United States, is probably the most famous of all New York rural cemeteries.


Technically located outside the city limits, in Menands, the Albany Rural Cemetery was incorporated April 2, 1841 and currently consists of 467 acres of unbelievably beautiful landscaping. 

Previous Albany Burial Grounds

Many of the churches within the city limits created and maintained their own burial grounds next to those churches. By 1780 those cemeteries were full so the city created a municipal cemetery at State and Eagle Streets. In 1801, the State Street Burial Ground, another city-run cemetery, was opened with sections for each of the city's churches. Church then began disinterring bodies from their own burial grounds and relocating them to State Street.


As with many other cemeteries organized just prior to or as part of the Rural Cemetery Act, the Albany Rural Cemetery was created due to overcrowding at church burial yards within the city limits and concerns about flooding at the State Street Burial Ground.


Albany Rural Cemetery was dedicated by Gov. William C. Bouck, on October 7, 1844 in an elaborate ceremony with thousands of people from churches, fraternal organizations and civic groups participating.

Transferred Remains

On October 12, 1886, the Albany City Council adopted a resolution[1] authorizing the removal of remains from the following cemeteries to be relocated to a special section called the "Church Ground:"

Dutch Church
St. Peter’s Episcopal Church
First Presbyterian Church
Second Presbyterian Church
Third Presbyterian Church
United Presbyterian Church
Methodist Episcopal Church
Garretson Station Methodist Episcopal Church
Baptist Church
Society of Friends of Albany
Lutheran Ebenezer Church
St. Mary’s Catholic Church
First Universalist Church
African Methodist Episcopal Church
Potter’s Field

As part of the resolution, the Report of a Special Committee on Burial Grounds was published listing the cemeteries participating in the relocation and the process. Betty Fink has headed up a project which recently put together an online database of the bodies removed and relocated.

Famous Burials

Besides President Arthur, five governors, three members of the Continental Congress, five U.S. Senators, 29 U.S. Congressmen and 55 mayors of Albany are among those buried in this still active cemetery.

Ames, Ezra (1768 - 1836), artist

Arthur, Chester Alan (1829 - 1886), 21st President, United States

Arthur, Ellen Herndon (1837 - 1880), First Lady (was a posthumous first lady as she had died before her husband assumed the presidency)

Barnard, Daniel Dewey (1797 - 1861), United States Congressman

Bleecker, Harmanus (1779 - 1849), U.S. Congressman

Corning II., Erastus (1909 - 1983), Mayor of Albany for 41 years

Corning, Erastus (1794 - 1872), U.S. Congressman, Mayor of Albany, founder New York Central Railroad

Corning, Parker (1874 - 1943), U.S. Congressman

Dix, John Alden (1860 - 1928), Governor of New York

Dudley, Charles Edward (1780 - 1841), U.S. Senator

Edson, Franklin (1832 - 1904), Mayor of New York City

Ellis, Chesselden (1808 - 1854), U.S. Congressman

Gansevoort, Leonard (1751 - 1810), Continental Congressman, Continental Army Colonel

Gansevoort, Peter (1748 - 1812), Revolutionary War hero

Harris, Ira (1802 - 1875), U.S. Senator

Jenkins, Lemuel (1789 - 1862), U.S. Congressman

Lansing, Gerrit Yates (1783 - 1862), U.S. Congressman

Marcy, William Learned (1786 - 1857), U.S. Senator, Governor of New York

Miller, Morris Smith (1779 - 1824). U.S. Congressman

Parker, Amasa Junius (1807 - 1890), U.S. Congressman

Paterson, William (1745 - 1806), Signer of the U.S. Constitution, U.S. Senator, 3rd Governor of New Jersey, U.S. Supreme Court Justice

Peckham, Rufus Wheeler (1809 - 1873), U.S. Congressman

Perry, Eli (1799 - 1881), U.S. Congressman, Mayor of Albany

Pruyn, John Van Schaik Lansing (1811 - 1877), U.S. Congressman

Redfield, William Cox (1858 - 1932), U.S. Congressman

Sanford, Rollin Brewster (1874 - 1957), U.S. Congressman

Schoolcraft, John Lawrence (1804 - 1860), U.S. Congressman

Schuyler, Philip (1733 - 1804), , Revolutionary War Continetal Major General, U.S. Sentaor

Southwick, George Newell (1863 - 1912), U.S. Congressman

Spencer, Ambrose (1765 - 1848), U.S. Congressman

Spencer, John Canfield (1788 - 1855), U.S. Congressman, Secretary of War

Swinburne, John (1820 - 1889), U.S. Congressman

Tayler, John (1742 - 1829), Governor of New York

Ten Eyck, Peter Gansevoort (1873 - 1944), U.S. Congressman

Tremain, Lyman (1819 - 1878), U.S. Congressman

Van Alstyne, Thomas Jefferson (1827 - 1903), U.S. Congressman

Van Rensselaer, Solomon Van Vechten (1774 - 1852), U.S. Congressman

Van Rensselaer, Stephen (1764 - 1839), U.S. Congressman

White, Hugh (1798 - 1870), U.S. Congressman

Wood, Bradford Ripley (1800 - 1889), U.S. Congressman

Yates, Abraham (1724 - 1796), member Continental Congress


Organized: April 2, 1841
Dedicated: October 7, 1844
Location: Menands, Albany County, New York
Size: 467 acres
Active: Yes


[1] "Whereas, The burying grounds between State and Hudson streets have not been used as a place of internment for several years, and they have been almost entirely neglected, the fences being destroyed, and the grounds used for pasturing purposes; and,

Whereas, This desecration of so sacred a spot is in the highest degree discreditable to the city authorities and the churches interested; therefore,

Resolved, That a Special Committee of five be appointed by his Honor the Mayor, to confer with the Trustees of the various Churches holding possession of and interested in the grounds for burial purposes, with a view to cause the removal of the remains of the neglected dead to cemeteries where they can be properly interred and cared for in a suitable manner." (Adopted)"

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Rural Cemetery Act

In the 1830s and 1840s, many areas such as New York City and cities up and down the Hudson river, experienced explosive population growth due to the opening of the Erie Canal.

With an increase of population was an upswing of incidents of disease such as typhus and cholera. Holding a belief that graveyards located within the city limits were most responsible for the spread of such diseases, a movement to locate cemeteries outside the city boundaries took foot.

Passed by the New York legislature on April 27, 1847, the Rural Cemetery Act authorized the incorporation of rural cemetery associations across the state. The Act would undergo various amendments throughout the years including limitations on the number of acres allowed (250) and approval by specific counties before establishing or enlarging a rural cemetery.

The timing of the Act, during the era in which landscape architecture was being developed as a concept by Frederick Law Olmstead and others, created some of the most beautiful cemeteries in the country.