WHERE THE DEAD ARE SLEEPING
About Johnstown Cemetery
An interesting Paper on Johnstown’s Beautiful Cemetery by an Occasional Correspondent.
Of all the grounds in Central New York, prepared for receiving the dead, none is more attractive or more nicely located than the new cemetery at Johnstown. The granite post containing large sunken figures, standing near the lot of Mrs. John E. Wells in that beautiful land of the departed, remind the beholder that the grounds were incorporated in 1849. The cemetery, which fronts Perry street and the electric railroad, contains some 50 acres of strong, rich soil, where the shrubs and luxuriant grasses attain a rapid growth and flowers, magic like, burst freely forth, sweetly shedding their fragrance to the passer-by. Near the banks of the Indian-named Cayudatta, which gently flows along the northern border of the cemetery, you find five acres of heavy beech, maple, elm and hemlock timber. Along the banks of the winding stream are romantic walks and in the most dense part of the primeval forest the exercises are held on Decoration day. The first interment in the cemetery was the remains of Peter McKie, aged 54 years, who died Nov. 26, 1849, and was buried by the sexton, assisted by Anson Wentworth. Thomas Morgan, who was the aged sexton of the Green street cemetery, was also the first sexton of the new. The second sexton was a gentleman named Robinson, who was succeeded by William Parker, who officiated for 21 years. John Shull, the present sexton, has occupied the position for 15 years prior to the first day of last May, and buried nearly 2,000 bodies. More than 5,000 dead are believed to peacefully repose within the grounds, including some 60 union soldiers of the great rebellion, whose graves are annually strewn with beautiful flowers. There rest the remains of Martin McMartin, who died in 1879, aged 56 years , and there sleeps, D. C. Livingston, who died at the age of 65 years in 1886. They were respective quartermasters of the 115th and 153d regiments; and there awaiting the call of the great commander repose the ashes of Capt. B. T. Hayes of the 32nd New York infantry, and the remains of Capt. D. H. Cuyler , aged 66 years, who was killed in 1876 by the steam cars at the South Main street crossing steam cars at the South Main street crossing in this city. Within that beautiful cemetery, partaking death’s last sleep, are the remains of many men who were once well known in this locality, including Knapp Cline, the second sheriff of Fulton County, who was the father of John Cline, president of the Johnstown Bank. There sleeps the aged janitor of our ancient court house, Samuel T. Crowley, also Watts Cady, who for many years was a justice of the peace and once a member of congress. Centrally located, stands, next to the tallest monument in the cemetery, the granite shaft which marks the final resting place of the ancestor of the Edwards families, John Edwards. Mr. Edwards was sheriff of Montgomery county prior to its division, and later represented this district in congress. Mr. Edwards, who was elected to congress on the issue of non-removal of county buildings to Fonda, had for an opponent the grandfather of the ex-congressman John Sanford of Amsterdam. When on his way to Washington Mr. Edwards traveled to Albany by railroad, and that city being the terminus, the congressman passed down to New York on the small steamer Swallow. Buried within the cemetery are two jewelrymen, one being William Settle, who died at the age of 68 years and was the father-in-law of our local oil king, Simon H. Kennedy.
The remains of four bankers repose within those ground, including Nathan P. Wells, president of the old Montgomery County bank of Johnstown, who died in 1843, aged 52 years. He was a remarkably quick witted official and in times of tight money, like the present, was capable of averting a panic and nicely tiding over the difficulty as the following anecdote will conclusively show: In those days, during a financial stringency, a very wealthy merchant of Johnstown, concluding to withdraw his immense deposits from the bank, appeared before the counter and hastily began presenting his certificates. The wily banker quickly discerning the situation, determined to not be caught napping, and forthwith dispatched his emissaries to the street with orders to rapidly gather in all available cash assets. Mr. Wells, then very deliberately proceeded to figure up and count out to the impatient retailer the sums called for, consuming the entire day in the operation, and also the treasury replenished, and the following morning when the baffled merchant discovered the situation the run on the bank was discontinued.
Within that cemetery are the remains of two ministers of the gospel, one being the father of the Rev. J. A. Williamson of Johnstown and the other Rev. Hugh Mair, who was born in Scotland in 1797, and died in Johnstown in 1854. The last named divine was a Presbyterian and strong Calvinist and in 1842 resided in a dwelling now standing opposite Streeter Bros.’ grist mill. Of the ten grocers lying within its gates Daniel Stewart, one of the number, who died in 1871, aged 61 years, was the best known auctioneer in Fulton county and of the five dry goods merchants Daniel Edwards and L. J. Smith were two of the veterans. There lie the remains of Archibald Anderson, one of our early county clerks, who died in 1860 and B. H. Dewey, county treasurer and supervisor, who died at the age of 65 years, and Edward Wells, the banker, who many years ago erected the $40,000 residence, now occupied by the Hon. David A. Wells. Among the three druggists whose remains there quietly repose we notice the grave of Andrew. J. Dewey, who died of small pox in 1865, aged 38 years. Three hardware merchants are there sleeping death’s sleep, one being Able S. Leaton, once a prominent Baptist who died at the age of 83 years, and whose grave is found in the timbered part of the cemetery. Mr. Leaton was one of the early and pronounced abolitionists of Fulton county, his confederates being Elisha Jeffers and James B. Rhodes, the trio for many years casting the three abolition ballots voted in Johnstown. Five judges there await the resurrection, the grave of the Judge Cady being conspicuously and centrally located and near his side we discover the grave of his son-in-law Edward Bayard. M. D., who died at the age of 83 and was a member of the well-known Delaware family. There too, we find the graves of two of Johnstown’s early merchants, Joseph Farmer, who was born in 1800, and Jacob Burton, who died in 1887, aged 82 years. The last named was an extensive receiver of manufacturers’ mitten orders in the early years of glove making in Fulton county. There can be found he graves of the assassins’ victims, one being that of Edward Yost, who was murdered in the Hays & Wells bank, March 6, 1875, aged 42 years, and whose last resting place is marked by a large tree faconia and a beautiful Scotch granite monument. There slumbers John Sloan, the stone mason, who 21 years since died at the age of 67 years, and Peter Keith, the tailor, whose surviving widow is one of the most aged residents of Johnstown. Of the half-dozen counselors at law sleeping within those grounds a Quincy granite monument marks the grave of Archibald McFarlan, and a sarcophagus monument manufactured of Swedish granite has been erected to the memory or Richard H. Rosa, the eloquent counselor, who for many years was district attorney of Fulton county. Within that cemetery sleep 14 physicians, one of the earliest and best known being Samuel Maxwell; who was a lame man who died in 1863 at the age of 80 years. N. H. Decker, who was once the Democratic candidate for congress in this district, and who died in 1882, caused the only family vault to be erected in the cemetery. It is an elegant affair and constructed entirely of marble, granite, iron and brass. The cemetery also has a large receiving vault, erected in 1884. Sleeping within these grounds are two of our early editors, Walter N. Clark and George D. Henry, also the obliging undertaker Barney Vosburg, and the brave fireman George Thompson, son of postmaster Thompson of Johnstown, who was killed in 1889 at the age of 30 years, by the falling wall of the school building in Johnstown.
There the observer finds a beautiful granite monument standing near the grave of James B. Dewitt, the faithful locomotive engineer who was killed, far west, by railroad wreckers in 1887. There you discover the grave of a well known and extensive glove manufacturer, Marcellus Gilber, who died in 1869 at the age of 67 years, and who prior to his death, caused a mammoth monument to be erected in the cemetery, which was manufactured from the native rock found in the creek bed one-half mile northwest of the cemetery and near Johnson’s hall. Within that cemetery, beautiful monuments have been erected to the memory of Henry Gross, Eli Piersons; D. D. Selmser, J. M. Duley, Dr. Youngs, Elisha Briggs, Francis Burdick, M. D., P. Z. Drum, J. B Matthews, James Fraser, James McLaren, David Hays, Judge Stewart, William Argersinger and Daniel Cady Eaton. Large monuments have also been placed upon the burial lots of W. S. Northrup, J. P. Argersinger, R. L. Jeffers, Jonathan Ricketts, Martin Kennedy, Matthew Potter, William Hardin; Richard Fancher, Lewis Veghte, Judge Fraser, C. E. Briggs, Eli J. Dorn and scores of others.
Numerous burial lots of those who at present, or in times past, have resided in Gloversville, are found scattered throughout those well known grounds. Ornamented with beautiful monument and headstone we discover the grave of R. J. Lefler, father of Dr. Lefler of this city, and farther west the marked granite informs the beholder that John Ferguson, who was once supervisor of our township, died in 1884, at the age of 59 years. There, too, we discover the monuments of our citizens, F. M. Young and Daniel McEwen, also that of our city millionaire, John McNab. There we find but a few rods apart, the graves of two of our former well known residents, Col T. W. Miller and John McLaren, who were the originators of the Fulton county bank of Gloversville. Col. Miller, who was the son of Dr. Miller of Johnstown, was the first president of the bank, and died in 1872, aged 49 years. John McClaren, who was the first cashier, died in 1890, at the age of 75 years.
The Johnstown Cemetery association consists of about 1,000 lot owners, and the Potter’s field near the center of the grounds, contains some 200 graves. The burial lots in that cemetery are sold for 15 cents per square foot. More than 265 large monuments manufactured of various sorgs of material, comprising many elegant designs, have already been erected in that beautiful city of the departed, the ‘tallest’ being that of the New York millionaire, the late Wm. L. Kennedy.
The above was generously typed by Laura Stewart. Laura has transcribed quite a few of Fulton's pages (Kingsboro Cemetery, for one) and has a deep interest of the history and area of Johnstown. She is searching for information on NOLAN families, who worked and resided in Johnstown. Their main occupations were as masons and construction workers; in fact, they built several of the brick houses in Johnstown.
Copyright ©2000, Laura Stewart
Copyright ©2000, Jeanette Shiel
All Rights Reserved.
Last updated Tuesday, 13-May-2008 13:18:46 PDT