Contributor: John Stormont

Cemetery Inscriptions
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).


"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 Cemetery.

"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 of Spencer.

"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, Henrietta Masterson."

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Ernie Miles
This page was updated Wednesday, 26-Mar-2008 06:52:46 PDT.