Thursday, September 29, 2016

brown's settlement cemetery.

I really enjoy finding interesting cemeteries to walk around in and look at the gravestones. I truly appreciate both the beauty of the stones and the history and meaning behind them, as well. There are quite a few in the area where I live and most of them have old stones because the cities and towns around here were settled a long time ago. I typically go with my mom, who also likes to visit them, and we are always on the lookout for unique stones, monuments, really old plots, or things we haven't seen before. This beautiful cemetery held wonderful surprises for us!

Brown's Settlement Cemetery was established in 1795 and contains approximately 238 stones. It was named after John Brown, whose farm land was set aside to use for the cemetery. Many of the stones' writing has been worn off, but this is a very well maintained cemetery. Although it has quite a few stones, it is a fairly small area of land and is under trees on a quiet back road. Chris and I discovered it while driving around one day, and I went back with my mom a few weeks later to show her and get a closer look at it.

Little did either of us know that we would find such a gem in this cemetery, something that neither of us has ever seen before: a grave for a Revolutionary War Veteran. Not just one - but two!

Dr. Joseph Waldo was born in Connecticut in 1758. He served as a physician in the Revolutionary War and lived with his wife in Massachusetts before moving to Berkshire, New York in 1802. He built a house there in 1806 and lived there with his wife and two children until he died in 1840. For many years he was the only physician in the area and had a thriving practice. He was also one of the founders of the first church in Tioga in 1803 and in 1833 he became one of the constituent members of the Congregational church in Berkshire. He was very well respected and loved within the community.

Ironically, the other Revolutionary War Veteran buried in the cemetery was connected to Waldo. While Dr. Waldo helped to raise the first frame houses in 1806 for fellow settlers and himself, Josiah Ball, along with John and Abram Brown, built the first saw mill in the area. In 1795, Josiah had built a double log cabin as well, to serve as a shop and temporary home for those settlers coming into the area until they could build homes for themselves. Unfortunately, that was the extent of the information I could find about Josiah - I couldn't even find that he had indeed served in the war or what his job was, and I couldn't find photos of either man.

Another remarkable grave we found belonged to Beulah Patterson Brown, the widow of Captain Abraham Brown. Captain Brown was in the militia in the Revolutionary War and sadly died of smallpox in 1777. Along with their five sons, Beulah migrated back to Berkshire, New York in 1795 as one of sixty proprietors of the Boston Purchase. She helped to establish the first church in Tioga alongside Joseph Waldo, and was very kind and helpful to all of her neighbors. She died in 1820 and was buried in the cemetery, although her husband was buried in Massachusetts.

Besides the two veterans, this cemetery has so many other interesting details. There are gravestones with very ornate carving details on the front, and beautiful ivy and flower stonework on the sides like these two show.

A couple of stones have the names of the deceased in raised letters on top instead of the standard lettering on the front of the gravestone. It looks so much more distinguished and stands out more than the stones around it.

Some of the stones were even within the brush surrounding the cemetery, a great example of nature taking over man-made things. This was the most prominent stone visible in the brush but I also noticed a smaller one on the ground and there could have been more further in the brush, as well.

Although most of the stones' lettering has worn off, a few have the wording etched so deep that it is still visible. Seeing the dates and realizing that they died over 150 years ago is a humbling feeling. So much life has been lived before I was even thought of, and even though the lives were different in some ways, they were a lot like mine in many ways, too. It's astonishing to think that the house I live in now wasn't here and was most likely just forest back then, and that the road I drive on was made of dirt instead of the pavement it is now. It's fascinating and amazing and one of the many reasons I love history.

We truly enjoyed exploring this cemetery. It was such a privilege to be able to visit the final resting places of three people that were so essential to establishing the local towns and villages, and who had served in the war that allowed us our independence as a country. It was intriguing to research their contributions and find out more about their lives, as well as more about the local area. Despite many of the graves being illegible due to natural erosion and some of them leaning over, the cemetery was in very good condition given the age of the stones! I love history and feeling connected to our past by getting to walk around and experience things like this. I think it is something that I think everyone should take the time to do.

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