Saratoga County, New York

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An Unusual Cemetery Location
Van Schoonhoven Cemetery

Submitted by Richard Elwell

Traveling around this area, we grow accustomed to seeing old burial grounds and cemeteries in all kinds of locations, usually a few gravestones in the middle of a farm field but sometimes in places that arenít so peaceful nowadays. One old cemetery is in an especially unusual location - right in northeast corner of the GE Silicones manufacturing plant at 260 Hudson River Rd., Waterford.

Known as the Van Schoonhoven cemetery, it was never "lost", as many were over the years. It was known to Cornelius Durkee, who copied the gravestone inscriptions recorded by Howard Becker in 1877. The DAR also listed the graves in 1924. Burials took place over 80 years, beginning in 1783.

In 1946, GE had acquired the property and began construction of a plant to manufacture the new silicone products that had grown out of its research in Schenectady. By this time, the cemetery had been subjected to a number of floods and the stones were all flat on the ground. The Company rehabilitated the site and built a picket fence around it that is there to this day.

On October 25, 1996, the inscriptions on the stones were recorded again by Derick Bradt Van Schoonhoven, Richard Williams of the Waterford Historical Society and Sharon Daley, GE Silicones. They were read as follows:

1.  Here lies the body of GUERL VAN SCHOONHOVEN
     who was born on the 9th of Mar. 1718
     and died the 14th day of Oct. 1783
     Died February 21, 1814 in the 70th year of his age
     [Stone broken and down, poor condition]
4.  Here lies the body of GRADUS CLUTE
      of Half Moon who died Dec 12, in 1803
      in the 69th year of his age
5.   In memory of GRADUS
son of Nicholas & Catherine Clute
       Died May 5, 1827 in the 17th year of his age
6.  In memory of ALIDA
      wife of Gradus Clute  	died May 20, 1825  84 year
7.  CAROLINE  wife of A. Clute
      b: May 9, 1820      d:  July 17, 1840
8.  CAROLINE   	Dau. Of Albert & Mary
      D:  Oct 7, 1844    1yr 10mo 8dy
9.  ELISABETH   	wife of Storm A. L. Becker
      died Nov 5, 1863   age 89
Died June 3, 1804 in 29 yr
11.  In memory of ALBERT BECKER
       died Apr 14, 1816   in the 84 year of age
12.  In memory of LANEY  Wife of Albert Becker
       Died Dec 17, 1819   in her 81 yr
13.  In memory of MARGARET
       Daughter of John and Elizabeth Becker
       Died Oct 12, 1826  age 1 yr
       Born Oct 15, 1778    	Died Dec 14, 1856
15.  CATHERINE   Wife of Nicholas Clute
        Died Sept. 5, 1852   in her 73 year
       Died Apr 11, 1832 in 19 year of life
17.  In memory of MARGARET   Wife of Anthony Leversee
       Dec 29, 1823   55 yr
18.  In memory of ALIDA LEVERSEE
       Died Mar 10, 1820  in 19 yr of her age
19.  In memory of ANTHONY LEVERSEE
       Who died ???? 1807  45y.
20.  In memory of CORNELIA LEVERSEE
       Who died Jun 15 1806 in the 15 year age
21.  HESTER   Wife of Malangton Lighthall
       Died Dec 25, 1835 in the 69y 14d
22.  In memory of ALIDA   Wife of Nanning H. Visscher
	      Who departed her life 10 Nov 1808  aged 68y 11mo
23.  In memory of NANING H. VISSCHER
	       Who departed his life 10 Nov 1808  aged 68y 11mo
24.  In memory of MARIAH   Wife of Abraham Fonda
       Who died 27 Apr 1801    79 yr & 9 mo

At the time of The Revolution, Jacobus Van Schoonhoven owned the property on which the GE plant was later built. He was a Colonel during the War, commanding the 12th Regiment of the NY Militia that participated in the Battle of Saratoga. It was the initiative of Col. Van Schoonhoven and his son Guerl that led to the Village of Waterford becoming the first incorporated village in the United States. Last fall, as a favor to a friend in Western New York, I obtained permission from GE to visit the site to photograph the gravestones of his ancestors. On September 20, at the appointed time, my wife and I reported to the plant reception center and met our guide. After signing in, we were given safety glass shields, hard hats and smocks to wear. After crossing the road, we signed in again and were escorted through the eastern part of the plant between the highway (U.S. 4) and the river. The three of us walked a few hundred yards north and there was the cemetery's white picket fence, sitting in a large open field of grass. Many stones had weathered badly, as old marble markers do in this climate. We did get our photos and the Company escort couldn't have been more helpful and gracious. Most of the material for this article was furnished by Derick B. Van Schoonhoven, 1329 Kirkland Village Circle, Bethlehem, PA 18017-4759 (or Contact him directly for further information about the family history. Go to the Saratoga County NYGenWeb Home Page.
Go to the Saratoga County Cemeteries Index Page.