ALSO CALLED BAPTIST BURYING GROUND, CHURCH STREET CEMETERY, MAIN STREET CEMETERY, OLD CHURCH STREET CEMETERY, BAPTIST CHURCH CEMETERY
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 20, 1875.
AMONG THE DEAD.
The Story of the Tombstones.
The Wisner Park Burying Ground
The Bodies of Those Buried There to Be Removed.
Some Account of the Spot—The names of Those Who Therein Do Lie.
After having been used for nearly seventy-five years as a burying ground, the land just west of the Baptist church, constituting what is now called Wisner Park, is to be thrown open to the use of the public, and then both sides of Main street between Gray and Church will be in harmony, making the spot one of the pleasantest in this city and hardly equalled in any place in the State or country.
The subject of the change has been for some time in the minds of those who have the good looks of our city much at heart, but an idea has prevailed, starting from no one knows where, that should the premises be put to any other use than that of a burying ground, they would pass out of the possession of the city and revert back to the representatives of the person who gave the land.
On the 7th of June of this year, his Honor Mayor Smith, who is looking well to the interest of the city in all directions, not only as to its growth and increase, but to its good looks and fair proportions, presented a communication to the Common Council suggesting that inquiries should be made as to the legal difficulties, if any, in the way of removing the bodies from the place mentioned and what would be the cost of each removal. G.D. Parsons, C.J. Langdon and J.L. Cooley were appointed a committee to pursue such inquiries. They made their report at the meeting of the Council held on the 5th of September. As to the legal aspects of the case, they had taken counsel of Hon. A.S. Thurston, who had looked the matter up in the records and had learned that the plot of ground had been given by Jeffrey Wisner, who held the patent of a large section, without reservation, for the public use of the village of Newton, its successors or assigns, and that, furthermore, there were no vested private titles in and to any portion of the old graveyard, making those who lie there, more squatters and there, only by the sufferance of the city.
The Committee also reported that the cost of the removal of the bodies and properly placing them in boxes in graves at Woodlawn with the headstones reset would be $668.50. They recommended therefore, that the Mayor should publish in the city papers for six months from the 1st of October, 1875, a notice to inform the friends and relatives interested, that during that time they could remove the bodies themselves should they so elect, and at the expiration of the time stated, the Council would remove such bodies as remain, to Woodlawn.
On the 20th of September a resolution offered by Ald. C.J. Langdon, accepting the report of the Committee, was adopted, directing that the notice mentioned should be published once a week for six months instead of once a month. This notice will be found in the ADVERTISER every Friday morning.
To call more particularly the attention of the public and friends interested in the matter, to the subject of the contemplated removal of the bodies, is one end aimed at in this article. Every one concerned should be made acquainted with the intention and desire of the common council, for there are but few, who, if their dead are to be removed from the places where they are deposited, would not prefer to see to the matter themselves. We trust therefore that if in the following account any of our neighboring newspapers see mentioned the name of their town or one in their vicinity, they will help towards the end, by giving the statement the benefit of their circulation, so far as that is concerned.
The grave yard is in a sad condition. It looks as if it had had no care at all for many years. The trees are ragged and rough; the grass is unevenly cut and course; the fences about some of the graves are broken down and dilapidated and many of the stones, both at the head and foot are sunken in or tipped over. The neglected look itself, suggests the notion that it was high time some change was made in the premises.
There are 227 head stones legible, 96 of these being over persons between one and ten years of age, 21 between ten and twenty and 110 over twenty years of age, giving rise to the reflection that a large proportion of our forefathers seemed to have died young. There are seventeen graves with low stones and no inscriptions on them, and twenty-three that seem to have been sunken in whether because the bodies had been removed, or had so decayed that nothing but dust remained to support the upper earth, it was impossible to tell.
We have copied from the headstones the inscription in full, where it could be made out, and to those who read it, it will appear that the style and fashion changes in these things as well as in all others. Some of the inscriptions would be amusing, were it not remembered that perhaps the utterance of them gave comfort to some aching heart, and grief is to be respected, no matter in what antics it may express itself. Another thing is to be observed, that the simplest stones are the best preserved in the graveyard. One at the southwest corner, set in 1818 of common stone, such as comes from the quarry on East Hill, being the freshest and cleanest of any to be seen.
The old place will not exist as it is now for a much longer time and this may be a memento of it. As a further one, Mr. Van Aken, the photographer has some views of the ground which are very truthful and fine and which will grow more valuable as times passes on.
The inscriptions have been taken in regular order. The first one stands
at the north west corner of the graveyard and the row running east has
been followed, then coming back with the next row and continuing on in
that way until the south east corner is reached. The location of any one
grave can therefore be determined with a little patience, from its place
in the list below.
Cemetery Notice—Removal of Bodies.
MAYOR’S OFFICE, CITY OF ELMIRA,
October 6th, 1875.
(Published in the DAILY ADVERTIZER on October 29, 1875.)
In compliance with authority vested in me by the Common Council of the City of Elmira, notice is hereby given to relatives and friends interested in the removal of the bodies now lying in the public ground situate between Church and Gray streets in this city.
FIRST—Such bodies must be removed on or before the first day of April, 1876.
SECOND—Any person or persons interested in the removal of such bodies, and desiring to superintend the removal of the same, can obtain all necessary information by addressing or consulting Nathan Baker Esq., Cemetery Commissioner, Elmira, N.Y.
THIRD—All bodies or remains not removed by the first day of April, 1876, will be removed and placed in Woodlawn Cemetery at the expense of the City of Elmira, and under the direction of the Cemetery Commissioner.
HOWARD M. SMITH,
Mayor, City of Elmira