Cemetery Index

Cemeteries of Madison County, NY


Cazenovia Village Cemetery
 No list, no stones, 1790s - 1814

All likely candidates for individuals once having been buried here are now to be found in Evergreen Cemetery, several less likely from South Cemetery are also noted.

Location of the Cazenovia Village Cemetery
  On May 3, 1808, three years after construction began on the Presbyterian Church, John Lincklaen sold the lot on which it stood to the Church Trustees (Deed A:542). The church building originally stood at the head of Hurd Street and the front was 6 feet from the north line of what is now Emory Ave. (Deed H:194). The lot surrounding the church was 370 feet along the street and 305 feet deep, the west line being almost to the eastern side of the High School building, the north line being along the front of the main wings of the Middle School building, and the boundary between 7 and 9 Emory Ave. forms the east line. There may be some error in these distances as later deeds which describe pieces of this parcel were only 250 feet deep, the difference being about fifty feet which is the measure of the cemetery. The deed that transfers the church parcel into private hands, and would perhaps confirm any error, is not on file at the Madison County Clerk's Office.

  It is thought that two cemeteries were laid out in the northwest and northeast corners but that only the northeast plot had been used (I cannot find the source for this). The 1808 deed reserves a 50 x 50 foot lot at the northwest corner as a cemetery, so the tradition seems also to be in error.
Should there be any error in the church lot description then the placement of the cemetery would be different. The description of the cemetery's location in the deed leaves for some interpretation. The deed states:

... excepting and running east of the aforesaid described piece of
land in the north west corner a piece of Ground three rods (49.5
feet) square which the said parties of the first part part (sic)
reserve for a Burying place for themselves and their heirs forever

This indicates the cemetery to be either in the northwest corner or just outside of the northwest corner - the first possibility is more likely. It may also be that the designation of the northwest corner being in error, the cemetery actually being at the northeast corner, in which case the tradition is correct, and some of the later deed data will also fit well - even if the cemetery is running east of the church lot.

  Based on what the unclear evidence tells us there are eight different possible locations for the cemetery, in two clusters at the northeast and northwest corners of the church lot. All but three of which are on school property, and thus probably destroyed, or at least unstudyable. The three off of school property should be intact - if that is where it is. Those locations at the northwest corner would be under the school at the eastern entrance of the old High School where it meets the Middle School. The other locations, three of which are not on school property, are in the vicinity of the southeast corner of the school property at the southeast corner of the main wing of the Middle School. Excavation during building of the school in the 1950s would have destroyed most evidence of the cemetery (grave shafts) nearest the school; under the site of the house (formerly the carriage house for the Emory house) at 9 Emory Ave.; at the end of the property for 43 Sullivan Street where the yard bounds on the school property; and lastly, in the same situation for 45 Sullivan Street. It is presently impossible to determine which of the eight possible locations is the correct location. Hopefully it is not on the school property where all evidence of it has surely been destroyed.

Abandonment of the Cazenovia Village Cemetery, 1814
  When John Lincklaen (as a representative of the Holland Land Company) sold the church lot to the Church Trustees in 1808 the cemetery or "Burying place" was reserved in wording that reserved it for himself rather than the church or community: "... which the said parties of the first part (Lincklaen) reserve for a Burying place for themselves and their heirs forever ..." Why this wording was used is not known.
  This place may have been used as a cemetery for some time previous to 1808. The oldest burial in Evergreen Cemetery (to which the bodies were moved in 1814) is dated 1799, and construction of the Presbyterian Church was begun on the lot in the spring of 1805.

That it was not long used is clear, and the reason for its being abandoned and the bodies being removed is described by several sources, the most complete of which is Jabez Abell (Cazenovia Republican, January 14, 1926):
	     In the village the place set apart for such purposes, "in the   
	     rear of the meeting house" was found to be highly objectional as in   
	     some seasons of the year, they would have to bail the water out of   
	     the grave before the corpse could be lowered into it. This act   
	     made it exceedingly desirable with many to find a more suitable   
	     place to deposit the remains of their friends.
Very few felt they would be willing themselves, to be thrust into the mud and water as it had been necessary to do so often.
In removing the corpse of a woman who had not been buried long, she was found to he lying with her face down.
Some thought she might have been buried alive but as there was no evidence of a struggle, she must have been turned by the water, for where there is room a corpse will always be found with its face down, in the water.


As the cemetery was located north, and uphill, from the center of the village the cemetery was thought to have been tainting the water supply of the inhabitants, All of this is plausible as the soils in the vicinity of the cemetery are very clayey (glacial till deposits) and are not deep, with bedrock (Hamilton Group shales) less than ten feet below the surface.

All of this was occurring not long after it was first used. In the June 10, 1811 issue of The Pilot Otis Ormsbee advertised that:
       The relatives and friends of those who are interred in the Old   
       Burying Ground, to the east of The Presbyterian Church, in the   
       village of Cazenovia, are notified that he now owns the premises,   
       and is about to occupy the same. He requests therefore, that the   
       remains of those deposited on his land, be removed previous to the   
       1st day of September next.
A search of the property records did not find Ormsbee's purchase record for the cemetery lot. Record could be found of two lots in the vicinity. He owned what appears to be a lot which is located immediately to the northwest of the church lot (now the site of the school's cafeteria and Buckley gymnasium) which he had purchased of Elisha Farnham on January 19, 1808 (Deed D:395), and sold to John Lincklaen on May 23, 1811 (Deed F:26). None of the eight possible cemetery sites is upon this lot. Record of Ormsbee selling a second parcel immediately east of the church lot was found (he had purchased it from John Lincklaen, but no record of this transaction was found). Ormsbee sold the lot to Walter Colton on May 4, 1813 (Deed H:194). It was bounded east by Sullivan Street) south by present Emory Ave., west by the church lot, and north by Daniel Day's lot (43 and 45 Sullivan Street), but did not include the cemetery lot unless it was no longer part of the church lot (unlikeW). If the cemetery was off from the east side of the northeast corner of the church lot and if the church lot was only 250 feet deep, then the cemetery would have been located in the corner of this lot.

  From the Village meeting minutes of March 18, 1814 (VM:36) we find the following report:

  On reading the representation + complaint of sundry inhabitants
  of this Village stating that the burying ground near the Meeting
   House in this Village has become a public nuisance insomuch that
   the inconvenience of people attending church has become great +
   growing, + the health of the Village endangered.

   Ordered that after the 20th inst. no person be interred in the
   burying ground near the Meeting House in this Village.

  In about three weeks a new cemetery site was found and purchased by the Village Trustees. It is believed that all the burials in the old cemetery
were removed to the new cemetery, called Evergreen Cemetery.

Post-Cemetery use of the Church Lot

Whatever the circumstances of Ormsbee's purchases and sales, his plans to occupy the cemetery were never carried out, for reasons unknown, and the cemetery continued to be used until Evergreen Cemetery was opened in 1814. Although the burials were moved to the new site the Presbyterian Church stood here for a few more years until it was moved to its present site in 1828. The church lot then reverted back to John Lincklaen's successor (Jonathan D. Ledyard) as the lot was originally sold:

  ...  upon this express condition and reservation that the premises
       hereby intended to be conveyed shall be reserved by the parties of
       the second part (Church Trustees) and successors for a church
       yard and burying ground and the building or church thereon
       erected shall be used and appropriated for the sole and only
       purpose of worshipping God agreeably to the Dutch reformed
       Presbyterian or congregational four (?) and shall not be
       appropriated or used for any other purpose whatsoever ...

Ledyard sold the church lot some time before 1832 to Perry G. Childs and Charles Stebbins as on September 15 of that year, Stebbins sold a larger parcel to Childs that included "... part of the old Meeting house lot conveyed to said Childs + Stebbins by J.D.Ledyard ..." (Deed AZ:209). The part of the church lot conveyed to Childs was the westernmost portion being 100 feet in front on the green.

  In 1836 Stebbins was noted as the owner of the lot "formerly Occupied by the Trustees of the First Presbyterian congregation" The 1835 Enos Cushing map of the village shows the lots in the same configuration as that shown on Henry Hart's 1852 village map when Sidney Te Fairchfild (heir of Perry G. Childs) owned the 100 foot wide piece mentioned, and Charles Stebbins owned the remainder (both owned much adjoining land). In 1884 John Stebbins, heir of Charles Stebbins, sold the central 150 feet of the old church property (but only 250 feet deep - about 50 feet less than the church) to Percy McCarthy Emory (Deed 161:217) who built his house on this site in that year. In 1889 he purchased the easterly 100 feet of the church lot, being the present property at a Emory Ave., again not including the back 50 feet where the cemetery may have been located (Deed 176:86). The central portion of the former church lot, 150 feet wide and 250 feet deep was eventually sold by the Emory family to "Central School District #1 of Caenovia, Fenner, and Nelson" in 1948 (Deed 406:260). The Emory family sold 9 Emory Ave., the carriage house from their estate, to John R. and Catherine R. Voght in 1958 (Deed 552:497). This property is now owned by Douglas R. Keefe (tax lot, Deed 940:69). I have not found how the school acquired the west part of the church lot (Fairchild property) or the possible cemetery location which was not part
of the Emory purchases noted above.

Possible Burials Removed from the Cazenovia Village Cemetery
  There are a number of interments in Evergreen cemetery which date from before its opening and it is believed that these are bodies removed from the old Village Cemetery. There are probably no burials left in the old cemetery, all the bodies supposedly having been removed to Evergreen Cemetery when that cemetery opened on April 9, 1814. 24 names have been identified as possible individuals whose remains were exhumed from the old cemetery and reinterred in the new. As it appears that all of these individuals had relatives still in Cazenovia, it is possible that there were persons who had no one to claim the bodies from the old cemetery. If so they either were moved to Potters Field of Evergreen, or they were left in the old cemetery. The latter is more likely, due to the health concerns of the Trustees.

  The sale of lots in the new cemetery began on April 9, 1814. The following, as found in the Evergreen Cemetery Record of Interment book, are known to have died before that date:
Bryan, Dorcas, died January 20, 1813, age 52 years, (#188, J-57).
Burnell, Charlotte, died March 11, 1814, age 4 years, (#374, J-96).
Burnell, Eliza Ann, died November 8, 1813, age 2 years, (#373, J-96).
Burnell, Mary K., died June 5, 1808, age 9 months, (#372, J-96).
Coman, Ziba, died December 1, 1807, age 34 years, (#1424, H-389).
Fay, Rebecca, died August 20, 1812, age 35 years, (#360, J-92).
Forman, Jonathan, died May 25, 1809, age 54 years, (#75, J-27).
Forman, Mary Ledyard, died May 31, 1806, age 47 years, (#76, J-27),
Hearsey, Amanda, died July 10, 1813, age 18 years, (#109, J-37).
Hearsey, James, died March 18, 1814, age 14 years, (#108, J-37).


Douglas J. Ingalls
May 4, 1998

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