Town of Spencer, New York
Copied by Mary F. Hall
Published by Mary F. Hall and Ida Hallock Fisher in grateful remembrance
of our ancestors, especially those pioneers, or later settlers, of Spencer
whose probity, intelligence and industry have given us high standards of
conduct as well as material blessings.
This contribution to the history of the town is made in commemoration
of the centennial of the town's organization, April 1806.
I.P.C. Press, Ithaca, N.Y.
Scanned and transcribed by John C. Stormont
Note: Since the materials in this transcription date at 1906, it is felt
that much clearer light can be shed on actuality of headstone information
which might have been lost in ensuing years (DAR 1927 recordings current
recordings some 90 years after-the-fact).
"CEMETERY HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF SPENCER, NEW YORK.
"Civil institutions had their beginnings in this part of our state in
the closing years of the eighteenth century. Men, who had penetrated this
western wilderness as soldiers of the Sullivan Expedition of 1779, in pursuit
of the hostile Iroquois, took note of the resources of the country and soon
came back accompanied by their friends and neighbors, with the peaceful intention
of founding here their homes. It was in about the middle of President
Washington's administration that Drake and Barker, our first settlers, arrived.
They were soon followed by the Hobart, Spaulding, Underwood, Purdy, Ferris,
Palmer, Hugg, Holmes, Garey, Hall, Bidlack, Mosher, Jones, Fisher, Cowell,
Valentine, Watson, Mead, Lott, McQuigg, Giles, Andrews and many other pioneer
families. And, following them closely alt the way, came an attendant that
had dogged the footsteps of some of them during indian wars and on Revolutionary
battlefields, and had threatened all of them during the whole arduous course
of pioneer life, -whether they marched, camped, builded, sowed, or reaped,
-an attendant that was sure to triumph over each of them at last, -Death.
"Very soon after the completion of a few isolated cabins within the present
limits of the town, a young man of seventeen, Prescott Hobart, was stricken
down. His name is first on the long roll of Spencer's dead. He was buried
on his father's farm until land was set off from the estate of Joseph Barker,
about £8oo, for cemetery purposes in "Drake Settlement," now Spencer.
This is the old cemetery opposite the Presbyterian church. Mr. Andrew Butts
says that the first cemetery was on the ground now used by the High School
as an athletic field, but that the spot was soon given lip because it was
not adapted to cemetery purposes.
"The three older churches of the town, Methodist, Baptist and Presbyterian,
have been situated in plots that were at some time adjacent to cemeteries.
At least two of the churches followed the cemeteries. In the absence of data,
who can tell whether the Methodist church or the old cemetery back of it
was first in order of time? Certainly the Baptist church moved away from
the cemetery adjacent to it, and the Methodist cemetery adjacent to the church
was long ago discontinued, while the old cemetery of "Drake Settlement" remains.
"These three churches resulted from much previous work on the part of
missionary leaders of each denomination, who gathered together the small
bands of Methodists, Baptists and Congregationalists that were found among
the settlers, and held services in log houses, barns, or in the woods, before
churches, or even log schoolhouses, were built. A comparison of records shows
that in order of time the Methodist church, which was organized in 1809,
was the first society to be founded here. Its first members were Peter Lott
and wife, Jeremiah Andrews, Esther Dean, Abraham Garey and Hester Ann Purdy.
The original Baptist church was organized Feb.10, 1810. The members were
Phineas Spaulding, Susannab Spaulding, John Cowell, Deborah Cowell, Thomas
Andrews, Jemima Andrews, Joseph Barker, Phebe Barker, Mehitable Hubbard,
William Hugg, Lydia Hugg, Polly Underwood, Benjamin Cowell, Benjamin Castelin,
and Ruth Castelin. The Presbyterian church (then Congregational) was organized
Nov. 23, 1815, with Daniel Hugg, Achsah Hugg, Urban Palmer, Lucy Palmer,
Stephen Dodd, Mary Dodd, and Clarissa Lake as members. The officiating clergymen
were Rev. Seth Williston, Rev. Parker, and Rev. Wm. Wisner.
"As to church edifices, the Congregationalists were the first to secure
a church home. A church site was deeded by Elihu and Sarah Butts to the trustees
of the society, Tunis Riker, Thomas Pert, Ebenezer Sabin, Urial Woodruff,
James Cook, and William Loring, August 25, 1826. Soon the church building
was erected at no small cost to the church of that day. One of the most
sacrificing members was Thomas Pert. This society immediately became very
strong in the number and personnel of its members, as existing records show.
An addition was made to the church building in 1874. The first church to
be built in town was to receive a bell from Judge Spencer from whom the town
was named; but it never reached us.
"The ground on which the Methodist Episcopal church stands was deeded
to George Fisher, Isaac Kennedy, Elihu Butts, Abraham Carey and Peter Lott
as "trustees in trust," May 16, 1827, by Andrew and Esther Purdy, for one
dollar. The gift was attended by these unusual circumstances; -some of the
trustees were not Methodists, and the Methodists were to share the house
of worship to be built., on occasion, with "all other professing denominations
of Christians." The church building, which was the second one in the place,
was completed not long after.
"The early meetings of the Baptist church were held at a log school-house
in North Spencer, then Huggtown. This church is now the Baptist church at
West Danby. In 1823, the Baptists in the eastern part of the town left the
parent church in North Spencer and formed the Second Baptist Church. They
held their meetings at Cowell's Corners, which presently became known as
the "Baptist Corners." When the parent society removed to West Danby, in
1828, this new organization became the Baptist Church of Spencer. In 1835,
this society built a house of worship on the lot which bounds the old cemetery
at the Baptist Corners on the west. This church was used until 1853-4, when
the present commodious edifice in the village was built.
"Beside the cemeteries already mentioned, a plot on the old Isaac Hugg
farm at North Spencer was early used for interments, as were smaller plots
in Crumtown and on the farm now owned by W B. Garatt. Evergreen Cemetery
was opened in 1864. With the development of the country and some improvements
in the early highways, came the disposition to use the new cemetery in preference
to all others. Accordingly some of the people who had been buried on farms,
and in some of the older cemeteries, were removed and brought to Evergreen
"In these six burial places are interred most of the people who were
life-long residents of the town, though occasional burials of our people
have been made in the cemeteries of adjacent towns. Some graves are unmarked
that once were marked. Many stones have fallen, and many others soon will
fall in the ordinary order of things. We have tried to preserve this closed
record of the lives of our townspeople as it is now engraved in the cemeteries
"Because of their quaintness, and the pathetic evidence they give of
the feelings awakened when death came to the pioneer's home, a few epitaphs
have been copied from the older stones. As an instance of the keen relization
of these people of the need of a distant kinfolk in times of trial, what
can be more pathetic than, -"Far from the land that gave him birth," etc.
"This is given as one example of the many histories that may be gathered
from the oldest stones in our cemeteries. The old cemetery, in particular,
is interesting for some of the old time carvings in low relief of such mortuary
suggestions as setting suns, open gates, urns, weeping willows, etc. The
conventional designs and the carving are reminders of some older cemeteries
in New England and the Old World.
"The names of all soldiers, so far as they are known, are marked thus:
(*) Revolutionary, (**) soldiers of the War of 1812, (Il) soldiers of the
Civil War. The names of people, so far as they are known, who are buried
in graves at present unmarked are included in parentheses.
"The Sexton's book (from Evergreen Cemetery) shows that the burials from
July 1, 1905, to July 28, 1906, that have not been indicated elsewhere, are
those of Thomas Dunn, Mrs. Jas. Gifford, a child of A. L. Scofield, Patrick
Gay, Wm. Cashman, John Frederick, Mrs. Eli Hutch-jugs, F. W Lange, Mrs. Chas.
Georgia, Mrs. Wm. VanMarter, Joseph Fox, Mrs. Adeline Barber, Ralph Benedict,
child of Delos Georgia, Isaac Cornell, Mrs. Epraim Vose, E. B. Mynard, Mrs.
E. Willet, Mrs. Eva Cowell Carey and Mrs. Naaman Davis.
"A study of the map of the cemetery and various newspaper accounts gives
information concerning burials in Evergreen Cemetery, which have been corrected
as far as possible by data furnished by several residents of Spencer. A large
number of the unmarked graves are recent. They will be marked as soon as
it may conveniently be done; but in order to complete our list, as far as
we can do so today, we include these names: Nathaniel Berry, Luther Bliven,
Mrs. Margaret Bradley, Daniel and Seth Bowen, Hezekiah and Elizabeth Carpenter,
Wm. Clark, John and Maria Coggins, Chester Dawson and wife, William Dawson,
Mrs. Sarah Day, Naaman Davis, Chauncey Deyo and wife, Robert Doty (black),
Miner English, Charles J. and James Fisher, parents of Addison Ferris, Fred'k
Fulton, Geo. Gleason, Chas. Hanson, Eli Hutchings. Timothy and Caroline
Hutchings, Isaiah Hunt and wife, James Hunt, Mrs. L. Hlugg, David Johnston,
Daniel Joy, Silas Mabee, Robt. McKnight, J. T. and Lucy McMaster, Mrs.S.
Mosher, Mrs. Geo. Nelson, Mr. and Mrs. 0. P. Riker, Val. Lawrence, Seth Sanford,
Horace Scofield, Mrs. V. Skinner, Mr. and Mrs. H. Tallman, Mrs. Dr. J. H.
Tanner, Alfred Vose, John Vose 2d, Rev. and Mrs. S. Vorhis, Wm VauMarter,
Wm. Van Woert, Mrs. D. and Mrs. S. Vorhis, Wm. VanMarter, Wm. VanWoert, Mrs.
D. Watkins, Chas. Whitmore, Mrs. Georgia F. Wilbur, Mrs. Anna T. Woodford,