Red Oak Leaves
Photo November 1998 by Joyce M. Tice
Early Burials In The Seeley Creek Valley
J. Kelsey Jones 2008
The Seeley Creek Valley has its beginning in Pennsylvania and the creek of the same name within the valley flows north into the town of Southport, Chemung County, New York and on to the Chemung River. Its fertile soils early attracted settlers who entered the valley from the larger Chemung River Valley in the 1780’s. Nathaniel Seeley and Jemima Collins and their children Samuel Seeley and wife Mercy Bartlett, Nathaniel Seeley, Jr., and wife Elizabeth Sayre, Israel Seeley and wife Millicent Strong, James Seeley and wife Ann Westlake, Elizabeth Seeley and husband Abner Morris Hetfield, Adam Seeley and wife Keziah Watrous, Caleb Seeley and wife, and Sarah Seeley and husband Samuel Edsall all lived in the valley and from this family the valley and creek derived its name. The valley’s beginning is narrow in the hills of Pennsylvania but as it flows northward it widens and the plain as it nears the Chemung River is broad and expansive between Mt Zoar and South Mountains.
There was an early burial ground, still in a remarkable state of preservation where the early settlers near the Chemung River were buried. It was known as the Old Settlers Cemetery, Griswold Cemetery and more commonly as the Fitzsimmons Cemetery, which is situated on Maple Avenue. Many early families are buried in the cemetery. The oldest dated marker is for John Seeley died October 20, 1790. Many of the early residents of the northern portion of what became the Town of Southport were buried in the Fitzsimmons Cemetery, but for approximately sixty years there were no public burial grounds in the Seeley Creek Valley south of Fitzsimmons Cemetery until one reached Mosherville, formally French Mills, in Wells Township, Bradford County, Pennsylvania, a distance of slightly over ten miles.
East of Fitzsimmons Cemetery on Maple Avenue only a short distance was the family plot for the Baldwin and Jenkins families west of Seeley Creek. Further east and east of Seeley Creek were the Miller family burials and still further east the Middaugh family burials, the latter often called the Scudder Cemetery because of the farm on which the cemetery was located, both burial sites now in the town of Ashland.
Traveling south in the valley from Fitzsimmons Cemetery a very early burial site most commonly known as the Waier burial ground is situated on the west side of the main road in the valley, which is now Pennsylvania Avenue, at the intersection of Mountain View Drive. There are no Waier markers in the small cemetery and John Waier and Sarah Clauson are buried in Fitzsimmons Cemetery. It may have more likely have been the property of Timothy Smith and Fanny Little and where both are buried, Timothy having the oldest dated marker in the cemetery – In memory of Timothy Smith died April 27th 1809 AE 57 years & 2 months. The Smiths had settled early in the valley in the 1780’s. The nine markers of this cemetery all lay flat in the lawn of the residence of the home on the northwest corner of the intersection. The last known burial was Fanny L. Chapman wife of J. B. Gale and she died November 21, 1880. Her death recorded in Elmira City death records states buried “town of Southport – private grounds.”
Traveling south, the Marvin family burial site is on the west side of
Pennsylvania Avenue just north of Beckwith Road. The oldest dated marker
is Mark son of Archibald and Elizabeth Marvin died Nov. 23, 1824 12y 3m
19d. His father Archibald died Aug 26, 1825 50 years. There are seventeen
inscribed markers in the cemetery. It has often been called Beckwith Cemetery
from the fact that Julia Marvin daughter of Archibald Marvin married Robert
Beckwith and lived in the residence beside the cemetery and was buried
A short distance south of the Marvin Cemetery is the Pine City Cemetery, a public cemetery. The oldest dated marker is Zervirah daughter of James and Laura Seely who has a marked inscribed Sept 25, 1837 but she was reinterred there from another cemetery, her parents having previously resided in Bradford County, Pennsylvania and in later years moving to Southport. The other burials in the cemetery occurred several years later, with two of the earliest markers dated 1851.
Henry son of Ephraim & Louisa Brewer died Sept 25, 1851 Ag’d 17Y’rs 5Mo’s 11D’s
Levi son of L. & A. Furgeson July 13, 1850 Dec 21, 1851
Early in 1852 is recorded the burial of Jane Arnot.
Jane wife of James H. Arnot DIED Jan’y 4, 1852 AGED 38 YEARS &
Behold and see as you pass by
As you are now so once was I
As I am now so you must be
Prepare to die and follow me
Her husband died a few years later.
James H. Arnot DIED Mar. 24. 1858 AG’D 46 Y’RS & 4 DAYS
Ye whose cheek the tear of pity stains
Draw near with pious reverence and attend
Here lies a loving husband’s dear remains
a tender father and a generous friend
Be ye all so ready for in such an hour when ye
Think not the son of man cometh.
Traveling further south, the Pedrick family burial plot is on the east side of Pennsylvania Avenue on an elevated knoll behind a residence and north of the stream known as Bird Creek. The Pedrick family had settled at the site at an early date and the oldest dated marker reads – John W. Pedrick died Jan. 21, 1840 Aged 65 Yrs. There were four inscribed markers in this cemetery for many years until the two Baker burials in 1956 and 1963.
In Webb Mills is the public cemetery behind the church. Burials probably did not begin much before 1850 or if they did by only a few years. There are two Bartholomew markers dated 1849 but they may have been reinterred there from a family plot further south at the hamlet of Seeley Creek. Daniel Bartholomew 1848-1849 on same marker with father Christian Bartholomew 1810-1851. Philip Bartholomew died March 27, 1849, aged 68 y’rs 2 mo’s & 23 d’s. Perhaps one of the first burials, though there is no evidence that he is buried there, was Amasa Newton, farmer, age 49, died Jan 1850 in the town of Southport of inflammation in the bowels (1850 mortality schedule). His wife was Lucinda Pollard and she became the second wife of Thomas Newton. Lucinda died Feb 22, 1886 aged 80 years and she has a marker in the cemetery. There are only four other markers with dates from the 1850’s and they are:
Eliza Jane daughter of J. A. and Martha M. Gifford died Feb. 25, 1857,
aged 2 years 9m & 2d.
She died to sin she died to care
But for a moment fell the rod,
Then spared her bright wings
And soared to God.
Julian wife of Orrin Hill DIED Mar. 29, 1856 Ag’d 45 Y’rs & 24 d’s
Flora dau of Simeon R. & Jane Jones Dec 22, 1853 Feb 10, 1855
Emily M. died July 24, 1855 Ag’d 4M’s 21d’s
Charles L. died Aug 27, 1860 Ag’d 4M’s
Children of W. & A. S. Webb
Burials in the Webb Mills Cemetery increased rapidly after that date and continued into the 1900’s.
Traveling further south it is related the Bartholomew family had a burial plot west of Seeley Creek north of Sagetown Road near the end of Griffin Lane. No evidence of this cemetery now exists. My grandfather John Jones was plowing there in the 1930’s when he realized he had encountered a cemetery, which no one had told him about. It is believed the Bartholomews had previously been reinterred in Webb Mills Cemetery.
The Kelly family settled at a very early date on the New York side of the state line. Hannah, wife of John Kelly died prior to the 1820 census enumeration and John died in 1825. They were buried on the west side of the main road and may now be buried under the shoulder of the road, the road having been widened twice.
Still further south, the neighbors of the Kellys on the Pennsylvania
side of the state line in the valley were Lemuel Gaylord and Sylvia Murray
who had located on their farm in the 1790’s. Their family bible indicates
their son Noah Murray Gaylord born 30 Sept 1805 died 9 Oct 1805. He is
presumed to be buried on their farm, the location of this grave unknown,
but probably somewhere in the vicinity between the state line and Seeley
Traveling further south in the valley in Pennsylvania the Judson families located on two adjoining parcels between the state line and what is now Mosherville about 1803. They began a family burial site east of Seeley Creek on an elevated knoll. The southern limits of the cemetery marked by a stonewall is the boundary line between the two Judson farms. Naomi and Solomon Judson were buried there, but later reinterred in the Mosherville Cemetery. There were doubtless other family members also buried there. Later, the Sayre family who resided near the small cemetery buried their family members there.
The first death of an adult in Wells Township, Bradford County was related to be William Keys who died in 1813 leaving a widow Saloma Daggett and two small sons. He was buried at Mosherville and the site became a public cemetery. His marker reads – W Keys 1813. This cemetery and Fitzsimmons Cemetery in Southport were the two public cemeteries for many years in the Seeley Creek Valley.
Ausburn Towner in “Our County and its People – A History of the Valley and County of Chemung” published in 1892 stated – “At least three small family plots have been all but lost since the disintegration of their markers – one in Christian Hollow and two on the Pine City Road. Two that were in evidence within the past fifty years have now disappeared; one was on the bank of Seeley Creek near Pine City and the other on the Bird Creek Road. Also, three unmarked graves on a South Mountain farm.” This would imply there were two burial sites on the Pine City Road (Pennsylvania Avenue) and one on Seely Creek near Pine City.
There are perhaps other burials in the valley that we many not be aware of.
Originally published in Town of Southport Newsletter.
This is Tri-Counties Page 16278