Lost in Stone…William and Thankfull Davis

Today I’m trying out a new topic for an ongoing series much like my, “What is the Jargon!?!” series. It is no surprise that I enjoy exploring cemeteries wherever I go. The closest cemetery near me is Bayside Cemetery, here in Potsdam and when the weather is nice, I like to walk to it. There’s a lovely path that runs along the Raquette River that goes all the way to the rural cemetery.

Now, almost every time I adventure around Bayside or another burial ground, I take tons of pictures of gravestones that interest me for one reason or another. I figured I could share some of those gravestones with you all, along with information about the person who the stone represents.

The first story and stones I wanted to share with you are the gravestones of William and Thankfull Davis, located in Section E, Lot 168.

William and Thankful Davis
These are the gravestones for William and Thankfull Davis. They are buried in Bayside Cemetery located on the outskirts of the village of Potsdam. When you drive into the cemetery go right up the hill and go down the hill. There should be a “road” path to your left; it runs through the section of the old stones. These stones are located on a slight hill near a couple of trees.

The timing for this post was completely unplanned until I looked at a calendar on Tuesday and realized that May 25, which is today, is the death anniversary of William. He was a Patriot during the American Revolutionary War and possibly the War of 1812, though I couldn’t confirm that.

William Davis was born September 30, 1762 in the town of Rutland of Worcester County in Massachusetts. His parents were Nathaniel and Ellen (Hubbard) Davis. William was the youngest of 15 children! When he was 17, William enlisted in the 7th Worcester County Regiment.

Enlistment Information
This information comes from, Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War. A Compilation from the Archives. By the Office of the Secretary of State for Massachusetts, published 1896. The information is found on page 548. William’s father or oldest brother, also named Nathaniel, is listed on page 528 of this volume.

On July 5, 1787, William married Thankfull Nye in Hardwick, Massachusetts. Thankful (Nye) Davis was born February 10 1764 and was the daughter of Joseph Nye Jr. of Sandwich and Thankful (Goodspeed) Nye of Barnstable (they were married in Hardwick on October 20, 1757). Thankful (Goodspeed) Nye was the eldest child of Ebenezer Goodspeed and Elizabeth (Bodfish) Goodspeed; AKA Thankful Davis’ grandparents. On a side note, Thankfull’s gravestone is the only place where her name is spelled with two of the letter, “L.”

Both William and Thankfull passed away in 1833 in Potsdam, NY. 

William Davis

Thankfull Davis

Close Up of Gravestone
This close-up shows how much weathering the stones have faced from the elements. I assume the stones are carved out of either limestone of marble both of which can be weathered quite easily from rain. The iconography looks to be rays or a rising run, or maybe a setting sun. The rays or rising sun are symbolic of renewed life or resurrection, while the setting sun motif represents death.

So how did William and Thankfull get all the way from Hardwick, Massachusetts to Potsdam, NY. Well, it’s unclear when exactly they arrived in Northern New York. A source I used for initial information, indicates that they were in Potsdam by 1820 – they would have been in their 50’s.

The other curious thing about the couple, looking at the detailed family trees for both William and Thankful, none of them indicate that they had kids, which seems really weird. Especially when you envision two middle age people in the early 19th century moving all the way to Northern New York from Massachusetts. That’s normally a 6 hour car drive – imagine doing that on horses and wagons. Plus, during this time, it was usual to have large families because of infant mortality rates and having more kids meant having more helping hands on a farm. So that’s why I thought something must be missing in the record.

I went back to the New York State DAR blog that explained William’s service during the American Revolution and checked to see what records were used, so I could check them out for myself. Census records from 1820 and 1830 were used, so I found those online. Looking at the 1820 Census records, I kind of found the answer I was looking for. William Davis is listed and in the row associated with his name, marks were made to indicate that in his household there was one “Free While Male over 45,” and one “Free White Female over 45” and that one person worked in agriculture. A few lines under William, another Davis is listed, Joseph!

1820 Census
William Davis is the second from the top. Joseph Davis is fifth name from the top.

The markings in Joseph’s row indicate one male aged 16-25, one male aged 26-44, and one female aged 16-25. From this I assume, Joseph Davis is either a son or other close relation of William and Thankful. Joseph doesn’t show up on the family tree from William Davis’ family but they’re actually buried next to each other at Bayside.

Looking through online records for Bayside Cemetery and searching for the last name, “Davis” I was able to make some more connections. Mary Harwood Davis (1797-185?) was married to a Joseph N., the “N.” is probably for Nye, Thankful Davis’ maiden name. Mary Harwood Davis was the mother of Ebenezer H. Davis, who was born 1832 and passed away 1911. By the way, they’re all buried in a row next to each other at Bayside. So they all have to be related! Ebenezer is an interesting name to choose…it would have been same name as Thankful (Nye) Davis’ grandfather.

Mary Harwood Davis and Daughter
The “our Daughter” stone maybe for Thankful Davis who died in 1836…there’s no stone for this Thankful but she’s apparently buried in this same Section and Lot as the rest of the family members.

Ebenezer H. Davis

So based on the new information and comparing that to the 1820 Census information for Joseph’s household we can conclude that: Joseph is the, “male aged 26-44” and Mary would be the “female aged 16-25.” Her birth year is 1797, in 1820 she would have been 23. The other male in the household, I have no idea because their son, Ebenezer, wasn’t born until 1832, so it can’t be him. I assume it must be a relative of either Joseph or Mary. If the other male was a brother of Joseph, that would mean William and Thankful Davis had another son but why isn’t he living with them? I think it might be a relative of Mary Harwood, maybe a brother. That would make a little more sense…

I went back to the 1810 Census and William Davis shows up there too; I couldn’t find Joseph Davis listed on his own.

1810 Census
William Davis is the name in the middle. There are a lot of markings in his row, which indicate a total of 8 people living in his household in 1810. The first five columns relate to free, white males and the second five columns after the double line, indicate free, white females. According to the census: 1 male aged 10-15, 2 males aged 16-25, 1 male aged over 45; 1 female under 10, 1 female aged 10-15, 1 female 16-25, and 1 female 26-44. It’s very unclear who all these people are other than assuming William and Thankfull are the eldest in the group. Joseph Davis must be one of the older boys. Joseph didn’t marry Mary Harwood until 1816, so she shouldn’t be any of these people living in the household. This means there’s at 5 unidentified members of this household.

Looking through the Bayside Cemetery records further, I found some other Davis family connections and another Joseph Davis. I found the Joseph Davis that I have been talking, about via the census records from 1820 and 1830. In the cemetery records for Bayside, the Joseph Davis that is listed is occasionally listed as the husband of Mary Harwood. Sounds correct right? Well it’s not the same Joseph. This new Joseph that keeps getting confused with our correct, old Joseph, was born 1860 and died in 1872…..Mary Harwood Davis died in the 1850’s. The other glaring issue- this new Joseph would have been 12 when he passed away.

I assume the mix-up has happened because of a few possibilities:

There are two different Joseph Davis- our adult Joseph Davis, the son of William and Thankful and the child Joseph Davis, maybe a relative in someway;

The old Joseph Davis’ gravestone in actually broken and embedded into the ground next to Mary’s stone- it was never seen during the original inventory of the cemetery;

There’s only one Joseph Davis and his birth year has been recorded incorrectly but he still died in 1872.

If the last one scenario is the correct mix-up- Joseph when he passed away would have been at least 75 years old, assuming he was born the same year as Mary Harwood, his wife.

Joseph Davis

The other Davis family members that are immediately related to Joseph, Mary, and ultimately William and Thankful include:

Thankful Davis (died 1836) Apparently this Thankful doesn’t have a stone but is buried in Section E, Lot 168).

Catherine Davis Averill (died 1882). Her father is listed as Joseph Davis. Her spouse’s initials are E.W. buried in Section E, Lot 106.

Thankful Davis Chapman (1838-1882). Her father is listed as Joseph Davis. She is buried in Section E, Lot 105.

? Elmina S. Davis Barnes (1838-1859). No parents are listed for her entry in the cemetery records. Her husband was Charles. She is buried in Section D, Lot 019. I included Elmina because her maiden name is Davis and her birth year is very close to the other “confirmed” Davis daughters. Maybe she is a cousin.

1830 Census
William Davis again is the middle name. His row indicates four people living in his household: 1 male aged 30-40, 1 male aged 60-70 ( this is William), 1 female aged 50-60), and 1 female aged 60-70 ( this is Thankfull). It’s unclear who the two older people living in their household are.
1830 Census Joseph
This is the 1830 census record for Joseph’s family. The markings are for 1 male aged 30-40 (Joseph), 1 female under age 5, 1 female aged 5-10, 1 female aged 20-30, and 1 female aged 30-40 (Mary). Let’s take a guess and assume one of the young girls is Thankful who passed away in 1836 and the other is Catherine whose birth year is unclear. In the 1840 Census, there are marks for a boy age 5-10 and a mark for 1 girl under age 5 and another girl between the ages of 15-20. These would be Ebenezer, the newborn Thankful Davis, and Catherine Davis.

A few final points about the family to make. William Davis was a supposed veteran from the War of 1812. I researched and I couldn’t find any records officially indicating this. Joseph Davis though, served during the War of 1812 in Darius Hawkins Company of the NY militia. The record for his pension also lists that he married Mary Harwood on September 16, 1816.

Joseph’s son Ebenezer H. Davis was a veteran from the Civil War. Ebenezer was a private during the Civil War. He served in Company B of the 50th NY Volunteer Engineer Regiment. Ebenezer’s enlistment lasted from September 1, 1864 to June 1865, when the regiment was mustered out.

So that makes three generations of the same family, veterans in a number of wars fought in the early years of American history.

Family Gravestones

Researching this family showed a couple of interesting issues in that can happen when researching history of a family. The first issue was the lack of information in William and Thankful’s family trees especially in regards to their own family and whether or not they had kids. Based off of their family trees it would appear they didn’t have kids but the census records and location of gravestones at Bayside would indicate they moved to Potsdam with some children. The lack of clear information can indicate a couple of things: records along the frontier area of the United States weren’t well maintained AND it can be assumed that once William and Thankful moved to Northern New York, their communication with their family back in Massachusetts was very limited.

The other unplanned aspect of this post is that it’s right in time for Memorial Day, which is May 29th here in the United States. So maybe if you have time this weekend, head to your local cemetery and see what graves you can find of veterans of the United States Army and Navy, and pay respects to our pass veterans.

If you have questions or comments, leave them below.

Thanks for reading!

Further Research and Sources

William Davis –

– Family Genealogy, http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/DAVIS/2000-09/0969922594 AND, http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=DESC&db=:1585920&id=I69178081

Revolutionary War Service Information, http://nnysardarjpp.blogspot.com/p/blog-page_19.html AND

https://archive.org/stream/massachusettssolcdrymass#page/548/mode/2up/search/davis

-1830 Census, https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9YYY-33J?mode=g&i=40&cc=1803958

-1820 Census, https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9YYJ-SH1C?mode=g&cc=1803955

-1810 Census, https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GYY1-9F6L?i=1&cc=1803765

Thankful (Nye) Davis –

Nye Family, https://archive.org/stream/genealogyofnyefa02nyeg/genealogyofnyefa02nyeg_djvu.txt AND https://www.geni.com/people/Thankful-Davis/6000000028181467753

-Goodspeed Family, https://books.google.com/books?id=im8ZAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA116&lpg=PA116&dq=thankful+nye+goodspeed&source=bl&ots=T-c_JERiHx&sig=_SHPEGGGhwk5GulabmDB5cLVSKw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjJkoyPn4vUAhUm1oMKHZMWCcQ4ChDoAQgnMAI#v=onepage&q=thankful%20nye%20goodspeed&f=false

Bayside Cemetery Records: http://www.interment.net/data/us/ny/stlawrence/bayside-cemetery.htm AND http://www.potsdampublicmuseum.org/ (At the bottom of the page is a link to a PDF of cemetery records).

Joseph N. Davis – http://files.usgwarchives.net/ny/stlawrence/military/1812/pensions/1812vet.txt

Ebenezer H. Davis: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~stlawgen/CENSUS/1890/Potsdam213a.HTM AND https://dmna.ny.gov/historic/reghist/civil/other/50thEng/50thEngMain.htm

Gravestone Iconography: http://www.thecemeteryclub.com/symbols.html

 

 

 

Mount Hope Cemetery, Rochester, New York

Recently, I traveled to Rochester, New York for my annual adventure to see my b.f.f., Amanda. While I was there, I had the opportunity to visit Mount Hope Cemetery, a rural cemetery located in Rochester. I have a fascination with cemeteries, so being able to visit Mount Hope was great. Rural cemeteries are quiet and peaceful, and I enjoy that greatly while photographing tombstones and paying my respects to those who have passed away.

Rules and Regulations

Mount Hope was a wonderful place to visit. We visited the cemetery in the late afternoon and were there for a couple of hours; the weather was great! There are about 14 miles of winding roads and paths to walk along and there are many beautiful monuments and tombstones dedicated to the deceased. Amanda and I didn’t walk all throughout the cemetery but we did see a lot. To add to reasons to visit Mount Hope, the cemetery has a number of burials of historically significant people such as Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass.

Prior to Mount Hope there had been a number of small burial grounds throughout Rochester including grounds at King’s Landing, the intersection of today’s East Ave. and Gibbs Street, Charlotte, and the intersection of Monroe Ave. and Alexander Street.

In the 1830’s, there was a growing need in Rochester for more burial space. The city had been steadily increasing in population making Rochester one of the first boom towns in the country. Apparently, Rochester had a lot of firsts for the young United States of America. The growth of population and a lack of good sanitary practices within the city caused outbreaks of cholera and typhus in Rochester during this time resulting in a number of deaths. This was just one of the many reasons the city of Rochester was looking for a larger burial ground. Other reasons included the fear of possible water contamination from the overcrowded cemeteries, plus those older sites were in prime locations for industrial and commercial development.

Rochester wasn’t the only place having these of concerns with burial grounds; Europe was having them too. As early as 1711, Sir Christopher Wren of England, was advocating for burial grounds on the outskirts of town. The first landscaped cemetery was completed in 1084 in Paris and is the Père Lachaise Cemetery. The first garden or rural cemetery in the United States was Mount Auburn in Massachusetts, which was finished in 1831. Mount Auburn inspired other cemeteries across America including Mount Hope in Rochester. These types of cemeteries are typically right outside of town and are landscaped. During the 19th century garden cemeteries were built not only for burials but also for public use, kind of like a park. They have winding paths, avenues lined with tress, garden plots, framed vistas, and monuments/funerary architecture. The concepts behind these new cemeteries were that nature could help overcome the reality and grief of a loved one’s death. There was also a push during this time to be outdoors and to take in the pastoral beauty of nature. The picturesque and romanticism of nature was seen not only in landscaped cemeteries but also in art during the early 19th century.

Click through the following photos for a general idea of the landscape of Mount Hope:

Mount Hope was dedicated by the city of Rochester in 1838 making it one of the first municipal cemeteries in the county! The cemetery needed little landscaping because the site was already fantastically formed into the hilly, winding landscape it is because of glaciers during the last ice age. For example, Central Park in New York City is not a natural landscape- that’s all created into a park- the only natural thing about the Park is the rocky outcrops. Mount Hope did employ Silas Cornell, a landscape architect, to help layout the roads and features of the cemetery. The name for the cemetery can be attributed to William Wilson, a laborer who worked on the layout of the cemetery. In his bills that he submitted to the city for his services, William kept referring to the work as “for labor at Mount Hope.” The name was informally accepted and people just kept calling the cemetery, Mount Hope.

Most of the earlier burial grounds in Rochester were moved in 1872 to Mount Hope. There are a few of the old burials still in Rochester though, they include the sites at King’s Landing, Charlotte, and Rapids.

The following are images of monuments and tombstones that I personally thought were interesting:

While researching Mount Hope, I came across a poem about the cemetery written shortly after it was established that was published in 1840 in the Knickerbocker.

Mount_Hope_Cemetery1Mount_Hope_Cemetery2Mount_Hope_Cemetery3

The poet was Elizabeth Clementine Stedman (1810-1889). She was a contributor to both the Knickerbocker and the Blackwood’s. During the 19th century she had three books published: Felicita, A Metrical Romance (1855), Poems (1867), and Bianco Capello, A Tragedy (1873). The last book was written during her time abroad; while traveling Europe she befriended Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Elizabeth’s eldest son, Edmund Clarence Stedman, followed in her footsteps and also was a writer and a poet.

If you’re interested in seeing another example of a rural cemetery, check out my previous post about the Bayside Cemetery in Potsdam, New York:

https://adventurewithcourtney.wordpress.com/2016/10/31/bayside-cemetery-photographs-and-thoughts/

If you have any comments or questions, let me know in the comment!

Thanks for reading 🙂

Bibliography and Further Information:

Wikipedia’s page about Rural Cemeteries:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rural_cemetery

The University of Rochester has a course where students do research on monuments and tombstones in the Mount Hope. This is a link to their website where you can search to find possible research papers on the cemetery:

https://urresearch.rochester.edu/viewInstitutionalCollection.action;jsessionid=73CC95E513A69C5C448CE3F7B4B1B0C7?collectionId=143

The following link is to a publication about the geologic history of the land that makes up Mount Hope Cemetery:

http://www.lib.rochester.edu/IN/RBSCP/Epitaph/ATTACHMENTS/24_1.pdf

This link doesn’t have a lot of information about the cemetery but it does have some cool scans of what looks like old postcards of Mount Hope:

http://www.rochesterhistoryalive.com/scenery.htm

Stedman, Elizabeth Clementine. “Mount Hope Cemetery, Rochester.” The Knickerbocker 16 (1840): 219. https://books.google.com/books?id=Os5ZAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA219&dq=mount+hope+cemetery+rochester&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjEyciY_s_TAhVF7IMKHQcnBUk4ChDoAQg1MAM#v=onepage&q&f=false

Reisem, Richard O. Mount Hope, Rochester, NY: America’s First Municipal Victorian Cemetery. Rochester, New York: The Landmark Society of Western New York, 1999. https://books.google.com/books?id=kxMLN0Z2PTsC&printsec=frontcover&dq=mount+hope+cemetery+rochester&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiqkv7k5NPTAhUIRSYKHRmxAssQ6AEIIzAA#v=onepage&q=mount%20hope%20cemetery%20rochester&f=false

The quote from William Wilson came from this book, page 8.

Other information about rural cemeteries came from my personal notes from graduate school.

Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris

http://northstargallery.com/pages/perehist.htm

https://frenchmoments.eu/pere-lachaise-cemetery/

Mount Auburn Cemetery

http://mountauburn.org/

The Old Military Turnpike

The Military Turnpike is one of the main roads to and from Plattsburgh, New York when traveling east- west across Northern New York. The road is long, winding, and dangerous. There have been numerous accidents on the road throughout its history. At the same time though, the road has a couple of interesting and historical road side attractions that can easily be missed.

The last time I was traveling along the route, I stopped and checked out the historical sites on the Military Turnpike. Prior to the trip, it seemed like a good idea to check out the sites. That was until I actually pulled over. There’s not a lot of shoulder on the road to pull over onto and cars were zooming along on the road at full speed (a legal speed I hope). But some days I like to live dangerously, so I got out of my car to check out an old cemetery and a historical marker located on the Turnpike.

But before I delve into the historical marker and the cemetery. Let’s look at the Military Turnpike, which has its own interesting story and has repeatedly been considered the most historic roadway in Northern New York. Using my favorite, trusty, historic resource- New York Historical Newspapers-I discovered a lot of information on the Turnpike and how the historical sites on the road intertwine with the Military Turnpike’s history.

View of the Military Turnpike and Cemetery
This is a view of both the Old Military Turnpike and the cemetery on that road. You can see that the shoulders on the highway are not that big.

The road, in some capacity, was in use prior to 1811. It probably wasn’t a road in the sense of what you’re use to driving on. Think more of a path traveled by farmers, their livestock, by foot, and by wagons. That path also would not have been level. It probably would have been overgrown with vegetation at certain times of the year. While at other times it would have been mud. Or impassable because of snow. This was not a road but more of a trail cutting through Northern New York.

In 1811, a law was passed to have the locals actually improve the Old Military Turnpike located between Plattsburgh and Chateaugay. The money to fund this improvement early improvement program was to come from a “lottery” for the purchase of a botanical garden….i

This would be a good time for an interjection.

This is some interesting stuff right here. I have NO IDEA what in blazes, this “lottery” or “botanical gardens” was. It is not clear. The source doesn’t even explain where the “botanical gardens” were located or even who was in charge of the “lottery”. Were people bidding to win a garden? I have no idea. I assume somewhere in Plattsburgh. I hope it was nice.

Now back to the history.

Unsurprisingly, nothing was done to the road to improve the path. Maybe no one actually put money into the lottery because they too were confused about what was going on…So, as you’ll soon see, a common theme in the history of the Old Military Turnpike, is the fact that good maintenance and much needed improvements were few and far between throughout the years.

Nothing was done on the road until after the War of 1812. In 1817, President Monroe, ordered that a good road be completed from Plattsburgh to Chateaugay. It’s possible that during the War, it was discovered how crappy the major “road” from Lake Champlain to the American forts along the St. Lawrence River, actually was. Thinking that a future war with England’s territories to the North (Canada) might be possible again, having a good road to get military supplies from Plattsburgh to the other side of Northern New York would have made logical sense. There might have been another reason too, which I’ll talk about later. Troops that were stationed in Plattsburgh from the 6th Regiment worked on the road every year from 1817 until roughly 1826 (some sources said work ended earlier in 1822/23). Whatever the actual date is the troops were able to clear roughly 24 miles of the road. The road at this time was the main route from Plattsburgh to Hopkinton via Ellenburg, Chateaugay, and Malone.ii

It seems that not much was done to maintain the road for the next 100 years. In 1926, the Plattsburgh Sentinel featured a large article entitled, “All Endorse Improved Old Military Turnpike.” The paper advocated for improving the road that, “…passes through a prosperous farming and dairy country.”iii This article marks the beginning of the paper’s and the resident’s attempts at petitioning to the local government for money to improve the Old Military Road, which was also called the Monroe Highway by some.

It would take about 10 years before any money would be available to do the much needed improvements to the route. It’s mind boggling, reading the news articles from the Plattsburgh Sentinel, which went through some name changes during that time; to “Daily Times” and then the “Daily Press.” The frustration of the paper is apparent in almost every article they wrote about this touchy subject.

1931-

It seems like delving into the dim recesses of the Stone Age since this paper began a campaign for the improvement of the “Old Military Turnpike” which would open up such a splendid area to convenient means of getting to and from the market, for shortening the route between this city and Ellenburgh, Chateaugay, Malone, and other points to the North.”iv

1935-

It seems strange that this, one of our oldest highways, should be allowed to become entirely neglected. It must be all of eight or nine years ago that we began an agitation for the improvement of this highway in keeping with what was being done for other highways. The best we could get was that the road would be placed “on the maps.” This is all very well, but people cannot travel on maps.”v

The sass from this newspaper is amazing.

One can only imagine the frustration of the road’s inhabitants during this time as- stories ran highlighting different proposed public work projects related to the roads in New York, yet it seemed like no one cared about this very important highway.

Examples include an article from 1932 where it was reported that there was an estimated $35,000,000 to be put aside for road improvements across the state. Three years later, in 1935, the state saw another estimated proposal for $200,000,000 to be put aside for road improvements.vi Each time a new amount was named for road improvements, the Plattsburgh Daily Press would write extensively about the Old Military Turnpike, the importance of the route, and how they hoped local officials would use State money to improve the road. It seemed that each time a new amount would be available for road improvements that the Monroe Highway would miss out on the opportunity for improvements.

That is until January 2, 1936!

The road was finally listed on the County Road Program. Improvement work was planned for 1936 and even 1937, if not possibly beyond that. The Plattsburgh Daily Press had a long article announcing the planned improvements, writing:

Improvement of this historic road has long been advocated by the Plattsburgh Press and the residents residing along its route from the Sunrise hotel corner to Ellenburg Corners, a distance of approximately 22 miles. Not only because of its historic value has construction of this road been advocated but because of its need to a large number of farmers and residents along its route who find it almost impassable during the spring freshets and after heavy rain storms.”vii

It was also during the 1930’s that the Military Turnpike, or the Monroe Highway, was given a new name- New York State Route 190, as part of the renumbering of the state highways.viii

My research into the history of the road ended around the late 1930’s but today on the road, you can see what those improvements in the 1930’s created for today’s route that is the Military Turnpike. The road itself isn’t the only historic feature between Plattsburgh and Ellenburgh, as I’ve already mentioned the road has at least one historic marker and an old cemetery both of which I checked out on my last drive on the road.

The historic marker is for a decaying house along the Monroe Highway, if you blink at just the right moment, you will miss the house. It’s also easy to miss the stone ruins because of the jungle of vines that have crept up the walls, helping the ruins blend in with the field the house stands in. The blue “Historic New York” marker by the side of the road indicates the property’s importance to the road’s history.

Robinson's Tavern

The stone ruins at one time was a very popular tavern used by travelers of the turnpike. The home was built in 1823 by Lewis Sage Robinson. His father, Daniel, had built a log tavern located just south of where the stone ruins stand today. Either way, the site’s claim to historic fame is that in 1817, President Monroe had travel plans to tour the Northern States. One of the his first stops was in Plattsburgh, New York. From there he traveled west to get to Sackets Harbor. President Monroe and his party traveled on the Turnpike and stopped on Daniel Robinson’s property, close to the structure that stands today, to enjoy a picnic catered by the townsfolk.

This is also why the Old Military Turnpike was also called the Monroe Highway in the 1930’s, to pay homage to the President who traveled through the area. If you remember from earlier I mentioned that in 1817, Monroe ordered that the road be improved by the troops at Plattsburgh. So while President Monroe may have ordered the road to be improved because of its possible military importance in moving supplies across the northern most territory of the country. He may have also ordered the improvements because of the hospitality he received from the local people on his trip, as a way to thank those living along the Old Military Turnpike.ix

The tavern ruins are connected to another historic site on the state highway. Down the road from the ruins is a small cemetery seen on the left when traveling eats to Plattsburgh. The cemetery is maintained well enough, yet the stones have obviously been affected by the elements of time- engravings are not easy to read and there are stones that have fallen down.

Military Turnpike Cemetery

Luckily the cemetery was inscribed in the 1930’s by Hugh McLellan, his son Charles, and daughter-in-law, Hulda.x It appears the 1930’s was a very busy time on the turnpike! Anyways, from looking at the online records from the inscription project, and I was able to make some connections to the Robinson family.

So here’s some quick genealogy of the Robinson family. Daniel Robinson, the man who built the log tavern, was an American Revolutionary War veteran when he moved from Middletown, Connecticut to Plattsburgh. In 1783, the year he moved, he married Thankful Sage, also of Middletown. They had 12 children, one of which was Lewis, who built the stone tavern! Records about Lewis list him as “Lewis Sage” or “Lewis Samuel,” I’m not sure which was his actual middle name. Anyways, Lewis married Hannah Eldred and they had 7 children. The tavern was passed down to their youngest daughter, Samantha and her family; they lived at the homestead and cared for the aging Lewis and Hannah.

Another one of their children, Rosetta, married Hiram Walker; Rosetta and Hiram had eight children. Hiram’s parents were Jeremiah (Jerry) and Harriet; they happen to be buried at the small cemetery. Their daughter, Hiram’s sister, Fidelia (or spelled as “Phidella”) is also buried at the cemetery near Jeremiah and Harriet. There is another Walker, and actually a Robinson family member, buried at the cemetery. The other relevant gravestone is for Samantha, who was the daughter of Hiram and Rosetta, which makes Samantha the great-granddaughter of Daniel Robinson and granddaughter to Lewis Robinson, Rosetta’s father. Neither Rosetta or Hiram are buried at the cemetery and there are no other connections I could make to the Robinson family.xi

The connections between the Military Turnpike, the Robinson Tavern, and the cemetery are pretty neat, in my opinion. Research took awhile on this project but I’m happy with the results. I’m sure there is a lot more that could be researched on the Military Turnpike in regards to it’s maintenance.

The tavern seems to have still been in “good shape” in the 1970’s; news articles indicated that the owners might have been in the process of remodeling the home. I could find nothing after 1975 about the house through the Historic New York Newspapers search engine to figure out why the remodeling ended. Obviously, the ruins are beyond repair unless someone is willing to put a fortune into rebuilding the home and recycling the stone that is currently there in the rebuilding.

As I have written before in previous posts, there is a lot of forgotten history in Northern New York. There is also a long history where maintaining and even restoring historic sites seems to not be a local concern. The history of the Military Turnpike supports that. It is historic and significant to the area, yet the local residents, and even the Plattsburgh Daily Press, had a hell of a time convincing politicians of the importance AND NEED to improve the road. Looking at the tavern too, though President Monroe did not see the stone tavern in 1817 because it had yet to be built, the location of the site is related to this historic tour of the Northern States by a President Monroe and yet, the tavern is just a decaying ruin today.

It’s frustrating that this history is largely forgotten. At the same time though, it inspires me to continue research and share what I discover about history here in Northern New York and other places I visit.

I hope you enjoyed learning about the Old Military Turnpike.

If you have any thoughts or comments, let me know below in the comment section!

Thanks for reading!

End Notes:

iHistory of Clinton and Franklin Counties, New York, (Philadephia: J. W. Lewis & Co., 1880), 51. I found this book via Google Books: https://books.google.com/books?id=rk4MAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA50&dq=history+military+turnpike+plattsburgh+ny&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiJj4HtoMLSAhUD4YMKHX8dADwQ6AEIGjAA#v=onepage&q=history%20military%20turnpike%20plattsburgh%20ny&f=false, accessed last on March 6, 2017.

ii“The History of Clinton County Compiled From Data Gathered in 1880,” Plattsburgh Daily Press [Plattsburgh, NY], February 13, 1934, Pg. 8.

iii“All Endorse Improved Old Military Turnpike,” Plattsburgh Sentinel [Plattsburgh, NY], November 30, 1926, Pg. 5.

iv“The Monroe Highway,”Plattsburgh Daily Press [Plattsburgh, NY], March 6, 1931, Pg. 4.

v“Public Works and the Turnpike,” Plattsburgh Daily Press [Plattsburgh, NY], February 18, 1935, Pg. 4.

vi“The Monroe Highway Again,” Plattsburgh Daily Press [Plattsburgh, NY], July 27, 1932, Pg. 4 AND “Public Works and the Turnpike,” Plattsburgh Daily Press [Plattsburgh, NY], February18, 1935, Pg. 4.

vii“Military Turnpike Placed on 1936 County Road Program,” Plattsburgh Daily Press [Plattsburgh, NY], January 2, 1936, Pg. 3.

viiiWikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_State_Route_190, last acsessed on March 6, 2017.

ixAndrew S. Broadwell, “Tavern Served Travelers When Turnpike was New,”Press Republican [Plattsburgh, NY], September 22, 1975, Pg. 5.

xThe website with the cemetery inscriptions that I used came from this website: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~frgen/clinton/altona/Military_Turnpike.htm, accessed March 6, 2017.

xiWilliam Richard Cutter, A. M., Genealogical and Family History of Northern New York, Vol. 1 (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1910), 93-94. I found this book through “Google Books” https://books.google.com/books?id=-O0pAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA93&dq=lewis+s+robinson+altona+ny&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwig-LrgtKbRAhWD7yYKHZHvDXAQ6AEILjAE#v=snippet&q=lewis%20robinson&f=false, last accessed on March 6, 2017.

Bayside Cemetery: Photographs and Thoughts

For most of the month of October, I was on vacation with my boyfriend in Austria. Before I start sharing all the highlights of that trip, I wanted to focus on one of the local cemeteries before the month is over. The cemetery that I frequent is Bayside Cemetery, which is located slightly outside of Potsdam on the Back Hannawa Road. A majority of the cemetery overlooks the Raquette River.

Cemeteries are interesting places to investigate and photograph. For me, cemeteries seem timeless: life is moving outside the cemetery gates but within, it just seems kind of at a standstill. The stones represent not just people but specific moments in time: birth, death, and maybe an achievement. It’s probably my own morbid curiosity but I wonder what my headstone will say someday, and if a curious passerby will take photos of it and wonder who I was.

When I walk through the tree lined lanes and past the moss covered headstones of Bayside, lots of feelings run through my mind.

Silence.

Beauty.

Remembrance.

Loneliness.

Peace.

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I don’t want to delve a lot into the history of Bayside because I really want the focus of this post to be the above photos and the importance of cemeteries to our local history. The shortened version of Bayside’s history is that it was established in 1865. It is considered a “rural cemetery” because of its landscaped, park-like layout designed by Boston architect and surveyor, Luther Briggs. When it was finally finished, about 720 graves were moved from earlier cemeteries that had once been within the village of Potsdam on Willow Street and Pierrepont Avenue.

For more information on Bayside Cemetery, visit their website. They have a lot of great information on the history of the cemetery and the work that the Bayside Cemetery Association is doing to maintain the property: http://www.baysidepotsdam.org/.

If you have any thoughts or want to share your thoughts about your own local cemetery, just leave a comment below! Thanks for reading.