First Known Cemetery In Edwards Village
H. Freeman, Town Historian
The beginning history of Edwards records the accidental
death of a Mr. Partridge in 1813 by a falling beam "at a
raising" (cooperative building of a barn, usually) and the
first murder, on 12 Dec 1817, of Jonathan Brown. The
first natural deaths have not been researched. However,
it is not known where the remains of any of the village
deaths of this time period were buried.
The first known cemetery of the village was located next
to the property of what is believed to have been Lawson
(or Alvin) Gardner's, next called Harrison ("Had")
Gardner's, then known as Dr. Daniel McCormick Taylor's in
the 1890s to Apr 1946 when Carl Randall, Sr. bought it.
It is now the rental property of Clarence (J.C.) Brassard.
It was a logical place for a cemetery since it was directly
across from the only church in the village.
Nellie Thurston Barnes (1861-1939), who worked for Dr.
Taylor as his housekeeper, told Hazel Bancroft Freeman (1890-1981),
that she remembered seeing cemetery stones in the
abandoned cemetery next (west) to Dr. Taylor's when she
went to the back yard to hang up clothes. She also said
when the clothes were blowing on the line they hung over
the cemetery. These remaining stones, apparently,
were never moved to the Riverside Cemetery when it was opened
between 1858 and 1865. It appears that there was no
one left in those families to attend to the transfer of
the remains to the new cemetery.
The small cemetery, to be easily seen by Nellie Barnes
while hanging up clothes, had to start near the back of
the lot. It is known that it was in the location of
Dr. Taylor's garden. Whether or not it went to the
sidewalk and road isn't known. In any case, in the
mid-1800s, the town needed a larger area and land of Thomas
Noble on Church St. was purchased, or received as a gift,
to begin Riverside Cemetery.
In 1905 the IOOF organization built a large building
extending from the sidewalk nearly to the rear of the lot
destroying any signs of graves that might have been there.
There are no records, or stories, that any stones were discovered
when the Odd Fellows building was erected, and when it was
razed in April 1969 to make a parking lot, no fragments
of cemetery stones were reported.
While this cemetery has no records or diagrams for people
to look at in 2003, the beginnings of the 21st century,
a number of residents have stories they have been told of
the existence of this graveyard. One is that during Dr.
Taylor's lifetime, he was digging in the ground where the
cemetery had been at one time and came upon the skulls of
two people. They had their natural teeth so probably
they were fairly young people. He carefully cleaned
them up, and put them on display in his office on top of
a glass front cabinet in which he kept his instruments,
and that is where Earl Noble remembers seeing them.
It is believed he wrote to authorities in Albany and asked
what to do with them. They then appear to have been
taken from his office, never to be seen again, and it is
presumed they were buried without further ado; probably
somewhere in the Riverside cemetery.
Another tale is about the Kerr family, who had their
reunions in the Odd Fellows Hall built over the cemetery.
At the family gatherings the adults would discuss the same
stories of the stones and bodies that had been left in the
old cemetery. While they were talking at an adult
level, sometimes the children would hear and these children,
now adults, still remember about the cemetery that "used
to be there".
Sources: I have known the part about Nellie Barnes and
the cemetery because she related those facts to Hazel Freeman
who, in turn, told them to me.
Earl Noble has been told the story of the two skulls
and that the cemetery was located in the spot where Dr.
Taylor had his garden.
Edith Duffy remembers hearing the stories of the cemetery
being there, while listening to adults.
This cemetery is mentioned in The History of St. Lawrence
County, New York, published by Everts in 1878, page 445,
LaVerne H. Freeman - 4 Dec 1999
The Current Edwards Cemeteries
The following records of the current Edwards Cemeteries
were originally done by Miss Leah Noble in 1952 as part
of her duties as Edwards Historian. Recently they have been
put on a database using Miss Noble's records, burial permits
available and information found in genealogical records.
Present historian will update these records as time allows
and more accurate information is found.
Village, Church St. - This burial ground was established
between 1858 and 1865 on land purchased from, or donated by,
Thomas Noble. It was later expanded by purchase of
more land from Mr. Noble along the same street. Stones
dated earlier indicate that original burials were in the
first village cemetery and moved to Riverside Cemetery.
Village, Hall Rd. - Chartered January 16, 1915. Land
was purchased from, or donated by, the Woodcock brothers,
Milo and William. As part of the transaction they
requested that their father and his two wives be moved from
Riverside Cemetery to the new Fairview Cemetery, thereby
making those three the first burials in the Fairview Cemetery.
This cemetery has been expanded in recent years as the need
River Rd. - Land was given the Gates family with the stipulation
that the cemetery plots were to be used only by those who
resided in that neighborhood and there was to be no charge
for these grave sites. The earliest marked grave in
this cemetery is Mary Jane Whitford who died May 28 1853.
Harmon Rd., St. Rte. 58 - This cemetery has also been known
as "Creek Burying Ground", then "Harmon Cemetery",
now known as Payne Cemetery. It is believed to be
named for the early settlers, the Payne family, who owned
that land. This cemetery is the site of the earliest
marked grave in the town of Edwards, Lois Rice Payne, who
died Feb 13, 1828, age 20 years.
Co. Rte. 23 - Small cemetery located near the Pitcairn town
line on farm property. Must reach it by passing through
this farm driveway. Named for the Pinney family who
once owned the farm. Earliest marked grave here is 1832,
an infant son of Isaac and Malinda Bannister.
Cemetery, Co. Rte 23 - Located at edge of Shawville
settlement in South Edwards. The cemetery is comprised
of very sandy soil on a flat area of land before one travels
down the hill into the community. The earliest marked
grave here is that of Angeline Austin who died Feb 13, 1844,
age 16 years.
Family burial grounds include:
Brayton - Rte.
58 - graves of infant Brayton triplets who died 1859 and
1860. also buried here are infants of the Cole and
Freeman families. None of these have traditional stones.
They are marked only with field stones and occasionally
decorated by descendants. This small cemetery is carefully
and respectfully tended by the landowner, Gerald Barker.
South Edwards, Co. Rte. 23 - Located on a steep hill
overlooking the settlement of Shawville on property owned
by Alfred and Barbara Fenton. It is very difficult
to reach. A low stone wall surrounds the graves of
the three Winslow family members. This cemetery is
tended by the Alfred Fenton family. The earliest grave
is Ruth Dunbar Winslow who died January 3, 1835, age 53.
- a private grave located on Antwine family property.
LaVerne H. Freeman, Edwards Historian - 18 Aug 2003