Friday, July 1, 2016

Visiting Colonial Ancestors' Cemeteries

[All photos are by me - Karen Porteous Glass - I hold the copyright except for those labeled otherwise. Please ask permission to use my images. If used, please also credit me properly. Thank you.]

Recently my husband and I drove out to Chatham, Cape Cod from our home in Oak Park, Ill. for a 70th wedding anniversary dinner and a small family gathering. As I mapped out our route to and from Cape Cod’s elbow, I focused my attention on visiting cemeteries in the areas of New York State, Rhode Island, and Connecticut were Bob’s and my colonial ancestors lived. There was no way I would pass up the opportunity to visit ancestral land and cemeteries going and coming home! I've waited too long already.

On our second day of driving, we headed north of Syracuse, New York, to Oswego County to visit the Coit Cemetery in Hastings — our first ancestral stop. This is where my 3x great grandparents, Abel Fowler, Jr. and his wife Lydia (Fuller), are buried. An image of her headstone is also on Find A Grave, but I wanted to be there to pay my respects and get my own images. It took a while, but we eventually found Lydia’s headstone with the help of a man across the street who takes care of the cemetery. We could only take a picture of Lydia’s stone as there is none for Abel, but I’m sure Abel is next to her; there is enough room. Lydia died in 1834 and Abel in 1847. Perhaps since Abel died years later that is the reason he had no headstone…no one left to arrange for one.

These old cemeteries containing graves from the 1700s and some in the 1600s are remarkable. Sometimes when you find one ancestor you look around at other stones nearby, you see related-families’ graves. I didn’t take pictures of stones with recognized allied surnames because most of them are remotely related. I have to quit somewhere…I’m not in a race to collect the most names in a tree like some people who are on

Coit Cemetery located in Hastings, Oswego County, New York. 
Lydia (Fuller) Fowler, wife of Abel, Jr. died 13 May 1834 at age 60.

Not too far from the Coit Cemetery is the land Abel and Lydia had a farm on, so Bob and I drove about a mile west to where it used to be in the early 1800s. There were no early 19th century buildings standing; all are modern. Having no old buildings didn’t discourage me; at least I got to be there and could contemplate on Abel’s farming life. The area was very rural, but nice. It kind of reminded me of Wisconsin with the rolling hills and lots of woods and farms sparsely dotting the countryside. 

The farm was located in the left box, at the "T" in the road. Coit Cemetery is
in the little box on right. [Google Maps, Satellite View]
Abel and Lydia (Fuller) Fowler's farm land (on right of road) just west of Coit Cemetery.
[Google Maps, Street View]
We didn’t stay long. I got what I came for in the Hastings area. It was Saturday and we had to continue to push on to several more ancestral stops on our way to the Cape by Monday afternoon to check into our B&B.

Sunday started out to be pleasantly cool and nice. As we approached our second and somewhat major ancestral area — Cambridge, New York, it started raining. We decided to visit the Woodlands Cemetery; we took almost 20 headstone pictures of collateral Fowler lines we found without getting drenched. 

The rain was letting up and we drove about four miles south of Cambridge to where the family cemetery was on the Frazier Farm. I was most excited to visit the Fowler Private Burying Ground. I’ve visited it online many times and wanted to experience it on my own — in person.

The Frazier farm is located on Rte. 22 near Center White Creek which is a couple miles north of Eagle Bridge where Grandma Moses and her husband homesteaded. The Frazier farm has a large 18th Century white house and yellow out buildings including the large barn. It is a working farm. This is Abel Sr.'s house he built in the late 1700s. It is still standing and in very good shape. My 5x great grandfather, Simeon, built his house south of Abel's.

Frazier farm today. Abel Fowler, Sr.'s in the late 1700s. The house he built is still standing. All the out buildings are painted yellow. I don't know how old they are. I think the well house is original.
From Rte. 22, we look at the back of the house. There is an old road which is really just a
partial stretch of concrete which the house is facing.
The family plot of about 15 graves is on the property of the Frazier Farm. The little historical cemetery is located about two football field lengths south of the house. Nearer to the cemetery is where Simeon and Mercy (Jones) house was located. (Scroll down to the "long" image to get an idea of distance.) We couldn't walk out there because of the wet field. So I don’t have any individual headstone images, but they are on Find A Grave. I did zoom in the best I could from the road.

It stopped raining long enough so I could get an image of the Fowler Private Burying Ground from the road. 
I zoomed in best I could. The first burial was Mary "Molly" Fowler,
Simeon's daughter who died at age 12 in 1792.
The individual headstones can be found on Find A Grave, photographed by someone else.]
Getting pictures of the graveyard was exciting. A bonus would be pictures of the house, but we found no one home when we knocked on the door. I didn’t want to take pictures without permission. We would try again on our way back home from the Cape. I did finally get pictures when we stopped again almost a week later. No one was home then either, so I left a note explaining what I did, who I was, why I wanted the images, and gave my blog and email addresses. A few days after being back home, I got a nice email from the owner who said she appreciated the note and if we are ever in the area again, to contact them so we could meet. That was a wonderful offer for sure! Maybe we will be able to see the inside of the house!

I thought it was interesting the house didn’t face Rte. 22. It actually faced the "old" road which is defunct. All that is left of the road is about 70 yards of broken concrete and weeds. In the next image you can see an arrow pointing to the old road and the circle showing where the house is. As you scroll to the bottom of that image you will see another circle, that shows where the Fowler Private Burying Ground is.

The original house built in late 1700s by Abel Fowler, Sr. my 4x great grandfather.
The image below shows the old road and house positions; scroll down and the family cemetery
is circled. You can see the distance the cemetery is from the farm house.
My 5x great grandfather Simeon Fowler 
built his house not far from the
burying ground where his daughter Molly was buried in 1792.
The circle at the bottom of this image is the position of
the Fowler Private Burying Ground. [Google Maps - Street view]
I'm not sure if this little well house is original to the farm, but it sure looks like it.
I thought it was really neat anyway.
A little window on the backside of the house.
I took this picture because it also looked neat, but lonely.

Not far from the farm is an old cemetery where the fence is tumbling down and stones are blackened by some sort of fungus or moss. Many stones are broken and some look like they will be once they fall over. It is in sad shape. We thought as long as we were in the area, why not stop and visit where my 4x great aunt Mercy (Fowler) (1786-1874) and husband Jared Shed (1778-1843) are buried. Bob walked the cemetery, but the biting little black flies were out in droves and made it very uncomfortable for searching. Their monument is on Find A Grave. Mercy is the daughter of Abel, Sr. and Mary (Brownell) Fowler and the second wife of Jared.

We were off on our way to overnight in Massachusetts, but not until we stopped in Pownal, Vermont, for a look around that cemetery for the grave of 5x great grandmother Mary (Blackman) Brownell, wife of Thomas. They were both born in Rhode Island in the early 1700s. Mary was born in Little Compton, Rhode Island. I believe Thomas (d. 1756) is buried in Rhode Island. Mary, a widow, must have followed her son to Vermont.

By the time we got to the North Pownal cemetery it was raining pretty hard, but Bob braved the elements and walked through a good portion of the older section while I stayed in the car watching the rain come down. He found her grave and ran back to the car; the rain stopped and we took a picture of the monument. 

My 5x great grandmother, Mary B. Brownell, died 1783 at age 60.
Blackman Brownell – her son – died May 16, 1801 at age 49;
his wife Eunice (Greene) 1841 age 84, and their daughter 1825 age 30.
Then the rain came again and stayed with us as we drove through the Berkshires down to Springfield, Mass. where we stayed over night. The next day was a travel day to check into our B&B in Dennis Port on the Cape. It didn't rain again until we came back to this area on our way home.

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