(Copied from a newspaper clipping – Towanda Daily Review
author and date unknown – probably in the 1970’s) - Submitted by Don Stanton
When Elisha Rich and his son Elisha Rich, JR. came down from Vermont in 1808 to carve out a home in the wild and sparsely settled wilderness that came to be Troy, they "mourned over the desolations of Zion among the few and scattered pioneers, and longed for the time to come when God should visit His plantation and grant refreshing showers."
These two Baptist ministers didn’t have long to wait. Later that same year, Elder Jesse Hartwell, a missionary from Massachusetts, came to the area and helped to "gather the devout into an organization known at the time as: ‘The Baptized Church of Christ at Burlington’." It was not until 1815 that Troy Township was formed out of the generous Burlington area.
At that first meeting there were just "eight persons saved by water." The were Elder Elisha Rich, Elisha Rich, Jr., Phoebe Rich, Pegga Rich, Russell Rose, Lydia Rose, Moses Calkins and James Mattison, "placing their names on the first church roll written for Troy" and going into the permanent history of what is today the First Baptist Church of Troy.
On March 25, 1809, the group met and appointed a committee of Aaron Case, Elisha Rich, Jr., John Barber and Eli Parsons "to search for a place for a graveyard and suitable site to build a church." Red tape was virtually unknown in those days and one month and 15 days later, on May 6, 1809 worship was held in the Block Meetinghouse, the first church in the Troy area.
The structure was in the heart of what is now Glenwood Cemetery, near the junction of Routes 6 and 14 in Troy Township. It was build of hewn logs, 24 feet by 36 feet with a gallery on three sides, and it is believed that Reuben Wilbur and Stephen Palmer hewed the logs. This church was used for 23 years until it was outgrown and members desired a more convenient location. The first location was convenient at the time because it was near the largest concentration of population, close by the trail to the earlier settlements of Towanda, Tioga and others. It was just a few years after the church was built that Ezra Long built his tavern and grist mill, which became a center of activity for many years. However, population shifted and the second church was built on Canton Street in Troy where the present Baptist Church now stands. (I don’t think this is so – I recall being told that the 2nd Baptist Church is the building that now houses the Catholic Church. This needs to be verified or refuted. DFS)
But this is primarily the story of a cemetery, not a church. As was the custom in the early days, the burying ground was immediately adjacent to the church. That first hallowed ground is now the "old section" of Glenwood Cemetery, high on a knoll and shaded by ancient trees. According to church records, the land was donated by the Riches and that "a deed of it is to be found among the Lycoming records at Williamsport, PA."
There is no sign left of the old Block Church, nor any records showing the lot owners in the old part of the cemetery. There is no record of the first interment, but the oldest stone to be found today marks the resting place of Elder Rich. He did not have many years to enjoy what he and God had wrought, but his son carried on as the second pastor of the small congregation. Elisha Rich died March 6, 1812, age 72. His son followed him on Oct. 11, 1845, "age 65 years, 10 months and one day."
After the church was moved uptown in 1832, the cemetery gradually fell into disrepair and overgrowth. There are no records to say that anyone was responsible for its upkeep. But it wasn’t until 1877 that something was done about it, a meeting that led to the formation of the Glenwood Cemetery Association, an organization that is still taking care of the grounds, markers and buildings. The association still has the original leather-bound volume containing the minutes of that first meeting and, as far as is known, every meeting since then.
This is what the record reports. "After the agitation of the subject of an improvement of the Troy Cemetery for a number of years by some of our citizens, foremost among whom were C. F. Sayles, H. F. Long and Rev. S. L. Conde, a meeting was called at the Troy House, (which had been built by old Major Ezra Long) June5, 1877. At this meeting a good number of leading citizens were present, S. W. Pomeroy being chosen as chairman and Delos Rockwell secretary.
"S. W. Pomeroy, D. Rockwell, John A. Parsons, G. N. Newberry, B. Bowne, C. F. Sayles, E. H. Dewey and L. G. Van Horn were appointed a committee to see what additional lands could be bought for, locate lines for old ground, ascertain how many have been sold in the same and what has been done with the proceeds of such sales."
This was done and at the next meeting, two weeks later, it was decided to purchase additional land from V. M. Long at $85 an acre and to secure subscriptions of stock. That same year in October a charter was obtained and the Glenwood Cemetery Association was incorporated, with capital stock fixed at $10,000 divided into 200 shares of $50 each. B. B. Mitchell, the first permanent secretary, had suggested the name Glenwood.
Meanwhile, Charles F. Sayles had employed the services of a landscape gardener, F. K. Knights of Cortland, N. Y., "a man of skill and experience," to lay out and beautify the grounds. He was paid $8.00 a day. Other men were employed at $1.25 a day to clean up and improve the grounds. On May 7 a clause was added to the bylaws to the effect that lots in the old grounds would receive the same attention as lots in the new part. And by the Sept. 24 meeting, it was reported that "work was progressing favorably, fence built, walks nearly completed and a vault was decided upon."
A. S. Hooker, owner of the Troy Gazette, printed a small handbook of the rules and regulations for the cemetery in 1881. Foundations for monuments "must be built of solid stone masonry laid in cement and not less that six feet deep" and no plaster images were allowed on grounds or in lots.
"No horse is to be left unfastened without a keeper" and no dogs could be admitted to the grounds. Neither could persons pick flowers, wild or cultivated, or break any trees or shrubs, or deface any monuments or other structures. Apparently there was a problem with graffiti even then.
Bribes or tips to employees, firearms or liquor on the premises were all forbidden, and persons not conducting themselves properly would be asked to leave.
It cost only three dollars then to open, close and sod the grave of a person over 12 years old, two dollars for a child, and one dollar to open a tomb. A fee of three dollars was charged to deposit and retain a body in the receiving vault for 30 days. A single grave for adult cost eight dollars, only five dollars for a child, and this included the opening, closing and sodding.
The names of the 56 original subscribers are found on the flyleaf of the minute book, and meetings of the association were held at least annually until 1887. After that very few meetings were held, perhaps because so many of the original stockholders were becoming permanent residents of the cemetery and it was difficult to secure a quorum.
On June 28, 1904, a meeting of stockholders was called. Only six persons were present and the treasurer’s report showed a balance of only $2.38 with another $150 due the association from notes and accounts. John A. Parsons was re-elected president with S. B. Aspinwall treasurer, and Frederick Van Dyne as secretary. The question was how could the association continue, as monies from a few small endowments and from the sale of lots was not sufficient to keep the cemetery in good condition.
Henry P. Davison, local boy who was to become Troy’s greatest benefactor, was approached in New York City were he was an associate of J. P. Morgan. Davison came to visit the cemetery, conferred with its officers, and offered an endowment of $25,000 in memory of his father and mother, George B. and Henrietta Davison, provided the association could raise a matching amount.
It could and almost did raise the required amount; Davison made up the difference. All this was done in 1911 or 1912, and certain improvements had been specified when Davison made his offer. These were soon carried out and are reported in a history of the cemetery written by Wilber H. Parsons, secretary in 1922, as is the list of subscribers to the improvement fund.
A neat stucco house was built on the grounds in 1913 to serve as a permanent lodge for the caretaker of the cemetery. It was first occupied by Silas Putnam, who served as caretaker for 36 years until Neil Bixby, the present superintendent, took over the job 26 years ago. At the same time driveways and paths were improved, a sprinkling system was installed throughout the grounds, and a bridge and road were constructed to make "an entrance on the Long’s Pond Road or the north side of the cemetery." That entrance is now reached from a short road off Route 6.
The improvements were completed by 1915 and six years later the landscape architects, Wadley and Smythe of New York city, donated 122 tall weeping willows, laurel leaf willows and other shrubs and trees to be planted at each end of the bridge leading to the cemetery. Many of these trees are still standing. Davison also gave a needed tool house in 1916, which was constructed near the lodge.
Davison’s endowment, administered by the Bankers Trust Company in New York, provided for upkeep of the cemetery and perpetual care of the graves, as did a $5,000 endowment make in 1918 by Daniel E. Pomeroy and a number of smaller endowments.
It was enough money at the time, for in 1922 it only cost 30 cents per cubic foot for stone and 35 cents per cubic foot for all concrete grave footings.
Today it costs about $3.50 per cubic foot for foundations and everything else is up. Over the years little was done at many of the annual meetings except to elect or re-elect officers, and to approve minor repairs.
This year, because endowment income was shrinking, the first complete audit of the association’s funds was made. Several dozen small savings accounts that had been left to the association were consolidated into one, and securities earning only three-fourths per cent have been turned over to the Bankers Trust Company which is still trustee of the major endowments.
Present Secretary Gary Goodreau said that current income is enough to break even, but that more is needed for lodge upkeep, new equipment, tree planting and "to make it a nicer place." Improvements are also needed to the roads and the bridge. Principal cannot be touched, of course, but Bankers Trust will re-invest in Triple A securities "for the best possible return."
Goodreau would like to see new gifts and endowments.