The Graveyards of Saratoga.


"What guilt

Can equal violations of the dead?

The dead, how sacred! sacred is the dust

Of this Heaven-labored form, erect, divine;

His Heaven-assumed majestic robe of earth

He deigned to wear who hung the vast expanse

With azure bright, and clothed the sun in gold."

YOUNG'S Night Thoughts .


"His ipsis legendis, redeo in memoriam mortuorum." - CICERO.


THE above words, in the immortal De Senectute , were intended by their author to divert the youth of Rome from the frivolities of the "Eternal City" to the contemplation of a country graveyard. Nor can we do better, perhaps, than to follow Cicero's advice, and turn away for a little while from the gay haunts of fashion and take a quiet stroll among the mansions of the dead. At any rate, I invite my readers to accompany me through the graveyards of Saratoga. Those to whom such a walk is distasteful may skip this chapter, and I shall not be offended.

The places consecrated to the repose of the dead are the "Sadler Burying-Ground," overlooking the High Rock Spring; the "Putnam Graveyard," near the railroad; "Greenridge Cemetery"; the "Whitford Graveyard," and the one bordering the "Old Beach Farm," north-west of the house of the late Dr. Dostie. Of these, the first three may be considered as belonging to the village proper.


The Sadler Burying-Ground .


On first entering within the enclosure of the "Sadler Burying-Ground" - which, by the way, is by several years the oldest of those above mentioned- one is struck with the utter air of desolation which reigns around. Indeed, it is nothing less than disgraceful that such a scene as there meets the eye should be allowed to exist. The entire ground is literally overgrown with rank herbage - in many instances completely covering up the tombstones - and rendering it difficult even for a practised backwoodsman to make his way among them. In fact, not only the weeds of a summer's growth, but tall shrubs, entangled or intertwined with each other, meet one at every step. In addition to which, graves, long since opened for the purpose of removing their occupants and never refilled, gape with open jaws to entrap the unwary. Bits of coffins and fragments of decayed shrouds lie strewn around - ghastly mementos of a former generation - so that it does not require the "witching time of night when church-yards yawn and graves give up their dead," to impress the visitor with emblems of his own mortality.

Making our way, then, with difficulty among the graves, and divesting ourselves for the nonce of the time and place, we seem, as we read the quaint inscriptions, to be in one of those old New England burial-grounds so vividly described by Cotton Mather. On one stone appears the name of Content Jameson, 1792; on another, of Justus, who died in 1804; here, of Patience Jenkins, 1805; and again, of Increase Mathews, who was laid to rest in 1790. But how much parental love is revealed when presently we read on another stone:

"In memory of


Daughter of Jotham and Amy Holmes

Who died July 3, 1796,

Aged 2 years and 20 days."

This little "Blumy" was the daughter of Jotham Holmes, a first cousin of Jonathan Holmes, who, after keeping a little log-hotel near the High Rock for many years, built the old "Columbian," in 1808, near the Flat Rock Spring. Next to this little mound is an old moss-covered stone, with a willow weeping over an urn and torch, which is "Sacred to the memory of Eli Taylor (one of the Taylor brothers), who died September 14, 1797, aged sixty-four years two months and twenty days." Near by is the tomb of Richard Searing, father of Major Searing; and farther on, are the graves of Jabez and Sabrina Hyde - the grandfather of another well-known and respected citizen, Jefferson Hyde. One step farther, and we come to the grave of Walter Blake, who, in 1815, taught school in a log-hut near the High Rock, and to whom Mr. Walter Hendrick, when a little shaver, went to school.

From some of the inscriptions, also, scattered here and there, we of the present generation may take a profitable lesson - so different are they from the fulsome and grandiloquent ones of our own day. Take, for example, the following, which, after removing the dank and noisome vegetation, reads as follows:

"In memory of


wife of

Richard Flagler

and daughter of

John and Content Wilkinson,

of Dutchess Co.,

who died the 19 th of Ap. 1792,

in the 26 th year of her age.


This stone is raised by her


and only child, as a token of respect,

for a mother whom she was too

young to know, but whose virtues

She humbly hopes to imitate."

But, perhaps, of all the graves to which interest attaches, none is more deserving of notice than the one of Fenn Wadsworth, a visitor to the Springs in 1785 - four years previous to that of Mrs. Dwight - and who, dying in the village, was, so far as is known, the first person who died at the Springs. The inscription is as follows:

"This monument is erected to the memory of

Fenn Wadsworth, Esq.,

Who was born in Farmington,

in the State of Connecticut,

and died on the 21 st day of June, A.D. 1785.


His amiable manners and disinterested

Benevolence endeared him to his

numerous friends and acquaintances;

while his abilities, perseverance and integrity

secured to him the esteem of his fellow-citizens.

By steady attention to the duties of a

Confidential Bestowment, under the

State of Connecticut, he impaired

His health, and died in this place

In the 34 th year of his age."

I have taken considerable pains to ascertain somewhat of the circumstances under which the person who lies under this tablet died. As might be supposed, the undertaking, at this distance of time, was attended with difficulty. Nevertheless, correspondence reveals the fact that he belonged to one of the original families, who, coming out either in the "Mayflower," or in another vessel shortly after, subsequently settled in Hartford, and Farmington, Conn., in the latter of which towns he was born. To this family belonged General Wadsworth, who fell in the late civil war at the battle of Chancellorsville. Early appointed to a position under the State government of Connecticut, through the influence of Jeremiah Wadsworth, who was commissary under General Washington, {Jeremiah Wadsworth was the father of Daniel Wadsworth, who built the Tower on Talcott Mountain (see Silliman's Tour ), and the Athenæum, and other public buildings in Hartford, Conn.} he sank into an early decline. Contrary, however, to the advice of his physician, he remained at his post until, when too late, he consented to go to the High Rock Spring. At that period such a journey, even from Hartford, was no ordinary undertaking. Loving hands, however, prepared him for the trip, and in the early summer of 1785 he set off on horseback. From Albany he travelled along the river road to what is now Wilbur's Basin (near Quaker Springs) and thence to the "Narrows" of Lake Saratoga. Here, where is now Moon's Lake House, he was ferried over in Indian canoes with boards laid across, by Levi Fish, the one who subsequently established the "Rope Ferry."

At that time there was no public road from the lake to the village - that is, if the little collection of log-huts can be so called. A narrow foot-path only led from the Lake to Squire John Gilbert's, {Where Seymour Gilbert now (1875) resides. "Squire John" was the father of Morris, and the grandfather of Dennis Gilbert.} at the cross-roads, whence it struck the North Spring Road, and, passing by the old Searing place, came out at the High Rock, or the Round Rock , as it was then called. Here he remained for two weeks, growing by degrees feebler, until the oil in the life-lamp gave out. At that time metallic coffins were uncommon; and his friends laid him where he now rests, and erected over his remains what at that day was a handsome memorial - a large flat slab of Connecticut sandstone.

"No further seek his merits to disclose,

Or draw his frailties from their dread abode

(There they alike in trembling hope repose),

The bosom of his Father and his God!"

{Another remarkable feature which strikes one on looking over the tombstones in this burial-ground is, that most of the names carved on them are entirely strange to the present generation. Who, for example, will recognize such names as Danforth, Hughson, Loving, Wickens, Wells, Adsit, Griggs, and Blitchard? And, indeed, this circumstance is not a little singular when it is considered that Saratoga is not so old but that descendants of these people should still be among us.}

Putting up the rickety bars, we cross the valley to the railroad, and following its track through and beyond the depot, come, just south of Congress Street to


The Putnam Graveyard .


This piece of ground was given to the village, in 1810, by Gideon Putnam; and in it many of the "forefathers of the hamlet" slept, until in recent years they were removed by their relatives to the present Greenridge Cemetery. Still, a number of early settlers yet remain where they were originally laid to rest. Here is Dr. Clark; and here, too, lie a part of the family of Nathan Lewis, who built the second brick house ever erected in the village. {Now (1875) occupied by George H. Fish & Son as a drug-store.} Although this graveyard is not quite as forlorn as the one just visited, yet the neglect in the form of defaced tombstones and dilapidated fences - through which swine and fowls range at will - is only too lamentable. Amid all this confusion one solitary willow-tree grimly stands in the centre of the enclosure, like a scarred and battered sentinel faithfully guarding his post.

Connected with this burial-ground is an anecdote, the relation of which may explain a mystery that has existed in the minds of our citizens for many years. One evening, during the height of the Millerite excitement, the villagers returning from a "protracted meeting" were astonished at seeing a bright light hovering over the graveyard. For an hour or more crowds watched the apparently supernatural spectacle with feelings of mingled awe and wonder, a few not hesitating to associate it with the end of the world. Nor was the appearance, though long remembered, ever solved. The explanation is this: Just before meeting was out two waggish brothers (Daniel and John W------) sent up a kite with alighted lantern attached; and, hiding behind a tombstone, enjoyed hugely the comments of the awe-struck people.


Greenridge Cemetery .


Leaving the "Putnam Graveyard," and again crossing the railroad, a walk by the "Clarendon" and General Batcheller's residence brings us to the entrance of "Greenridge Cemetery." Although it has not the antiquity of age, yet it is well worthy of a quiet stroll along its avenues. Without the showiness of Greenwood, or the clustering memories of Mount Auburn, or even the picturesqueness of Laurel Hill or of the Albany Cemetery, it still attracts by the quiet beauty of its surroundings. {When the ground for this cemetery was first enclosed it was supposed to be ample for many years to come; but, alas! for us all, scarcely thirty years have elapsed, and it is found imperatively necessary to enlarge its domain!} The grounds, which, thanks to the former president of the village, Mr. James H. Wright, and to its present one, Mr. Charles Allen, are kept singularly neat and beautiful, occupy a site on the outskirts of Saratoga toward the south, in the midst of a grove of sober-looking pines, which harmonize with the pensive character of the surrounding plain. And here, were I so inclined, I could dwell on the ludicrous, which even in this modern cemetery meets the eye; {Of such a character is the following inscription on the tombstone of an engineer who was killed by his locomotive. The engine is carved in alto-relievo , with a daguerreotype of the deceased inserted in the window of the tender, and under it is the following:

"My engine now lies cold and still,

No water does her boiler fill;

The wood affords its flames no more;

My days of usefulness are o'er!"}

but I am not, nor are you, gentle reader, so disposed. Rather let us tread softly above the last resting-places of the dead, and trace upon the marble the affectionate characters which proclaim the vanity of men and worldly things. It tends to profit the living to commune thoughtfully with the dead - to lay to heart, from what there was, what each living man must be. And yet, as we saunter among the graves, we recall the quaint and beautiful language of Osborne: "He that lieth under the herse of heavenne is convertible into swete herbes and flowers, that maye rest in bosoms that wolde shrink from the ugly bugs which may be found crawling in the magnificent tomb of Henry the VII." For ourselves, "much rather had we sleep where the moonbeams would convert into diamonds the dew-drops gathering on the rosebuds, than to lie beneath the dome of St. Peter's, and rest where the soft south wind would wake the fragrance of blossoms which affectionate hands had planted, than to moulder in the undiscovered chambers of the eternal pyramids."

In "Greenridge," among the graves of sleepers unknown to fame - to whose memory, nevertheless, affection has reared the speaking tablet - lie the remains of those two talented sisters, Margaret and Lucretia Davidson, and their brother the Lieutenant. Of the two former, especially, it may well be said, in the language of Habbington, they were among those who

"Keep something of their glory in their dust."

Near by, too, lies Coleman, the splendid musical genius, whose invention will live to perpetuate his name long after his elaborate monument shall have crumbled into dust. Here, also, are Cowen, Willard, and Walworth - three of the great legal minds of the century; and here, too, lie many whose names are household words with all who love Saratoga. Of such are the Putnams, the Waltons, the Bryans, the Beaches, the Westcotts, Dr. North, Judge Doe, Judge Warren, E.R. Stevens, Gideon M. Davison, Rev. Mr. Griswold, "Elder" Wayland, and a score of others who live in the hearts of their survivors - the best guardians of their virtues!

Here, again, lie the remains of Colonel William L. Stone, the friend of the Red Man. Associated with this grave is an anecdote which, in this connection, the son may be pardoned for relating of the father. A close friendship existed between the late Mr. Schoolcraft and Colonel Stone, which their community of tastes rendered enduring until death. Both loved the Red Man; both used their best powers freely in his behalf, and both became pioneers in hewing down the prejudices which had grown up around his character. In the summer of 1844, a few days after Colonel Stone's death, Mr. Schoolcraft visited Saratoga, and while standing one afternoon, in the mellow sunset, among the evergreens that hung over the grave of his friend, he composed an elegiac poem, from which I quote the following stanzas:

"They bore him up by a winding road

To a burial-ground in the wood,

Where the tall pines cast their shade around

To hallow the solitude.


"Away from the town and waters bright,

Where fashion and beauty cling,

Remote from the thoughtless multitude

And the gaieties of the spring.


" 'Tis a new-made ground * - a mile away -

And stumps and trees stand round,

As monuments of the forest rule

Upon that virgin ground


"The ancient wood-genii shall wake up to life,

And join with the white man to weep

O'er one who remembered the Red Sons of strife,

And scattered fresh bays where they sleep."


{* Colonel Stone was the first person whose remains were laid in Greenridge Cemetery. Other tombstones, it is true, bear older dates; but these were removed thither from other grave-yards.}

Before closing this chapter, I wish to say a word regarding a late rumor to the effect that it is in contemplation to remove the remains of those who sleep in the "Sadler Burying-Ground" to some other place. In the same spirit of vandalism the crumbling remains of those who - some of them for more than a century - had slept beneath the tower of the Old North Dutch Church in New York City were removed, in 1866, to Greenwood Cemetery. In the majority of cases, however, the silver plates once attached to the coffins (mingled with fine dust) were the only remains. The dust was separated as carefully as possible, placed in boxes, and removed to Greenwood. Still, in the chaotic state in which the ashes of the dead lay, complete accuracy was impossible; and perhaps the dust of persons who, while on earth, cherished bitter animosity toward each other, is destined to repose in the same casket!

The reason given for the proposed removal of the dead of the "Sadler Burying-Ground" is, I understand, that the land may be converted into building-lots! We here add our unqualified condemnation of the movement. It is a disgrace to the age and to the village that old graveyards are thus invaded by the demands of business, and the repose of the dead violated because the village has grown. Old graveyards ought to be venerated as holy ground. Men should no more consent to sell the bones of their own fathers and mothers for knife-handles. If it is thought best to have no more graveyards within the corporate limits, well and good; but let those which are there stand as a memorial to the old and good men who sleep beneath. But let them sleep! Our condemnation applies to all the removals of churchyards which have taken place or are now going forward in different cities of the land. There is no excuse for it, or palliation of the offence against propriety. If necessary, prohibit any further burials in these old graveyards, but let not a spadeful of the dust of the fathers be sold for gold . {"We call the Mohammedans," says a writer in a recent number of Harper's Magazine , a pagan nation and but half civilized; yet not a single stone is removed, under any circumstance, from a Mohammedan grave. Such removal is considered the deepest sacrilege, and no amount of piastres could purchase a rood of a Mohammedan burial-place. The Orient is not yet sufficiently enlightened to see the advantage which we Americans so clearly perceive of turning old graveyards into building-sites, and using the dust of our forefathers as a basis of profitable speculation.

There is an old graveyard at Bacon Hill - a few miles only from the "Sadler Burying-Ground" - yet containing a grave of the last century, walled up with mason-work to protect it from the wild beasts. Is not that grave, in the present age, more in danger of desecration from animals of a different species?}



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