(From the scrapbook of Eddy C. [1857-1944] & Helen White Gilbert [1855-1929]. Clippings may not be dated and newspaper may be unknown, unless noted. Most dates supplied were handwritten and initialed by the collectors.) In most cases, these clippings were from Rushford Spectator/The Spectator
Transcribed by Yvonne E. Smith
The first Burying Ground of Rushford
One beautiful evening in May, when the lilacs were in bloom and all nature seemed bursting with life, I wended my way to the First Burying Ground of Rushford. Nearby boys were playing ball, children were shouting in the street, lively music from a victrola floated on the air and automobiles were rushing by--but I was alone with the dead.
This Burying Ground was probably a part of the land once owned by the Banisters. Roderick Banister came to Rushford in 1812, and cleared land on the west road, near the village. At least a part of this land is included in the farm now owned by Lyman Weaver. Warren Bannister, a Methodist minister, came to Rushford in 1817; his home was where W. F. Benjamin now lives. Here on August 13, 1820, Sarah, his wife passed to her eternal reward. In the same year, Wayne Banister, brother of Roderick and Warren, fell from a dam in the Gorge of Caneadea Creek and was instantly killed. Sarah and Wayne were both buried on the knoll back of Elder Banister’s house, and, so far as known, their graves were the first in this buying ground. The inscription on the tombstone of Sarah Banister states that she was neat, industrious, economical, and pious, an ornament to her sex.
In this ground are the Searl row of nine stones, and the Hapgood row. The tombstones of the former days are more interesting and definite than those of today. We here read of Zeruah Bennet, formerly wife of William Thirds; Deborah W., consort of Amos R. Smithe; Clarissa, widow of David George; Holmes Sanders, who was instantly deprived of life by being crushed beneath a log, May 5, 1836; and Sherman D. Vahue, born in St. Lawrence Co. Nov. 11, 1832, drowned in Rushford, Allegany Co., N.Y., Aug. 3, 1839, aged 6 yrs., 8 mos. & 23 days. On the tombstone of Amanda Morilla Abbott, wife of Sackett Abbott, are the following lines: “The Scripture is your rule, By it you fall or stand, Walk in the way which it points out to Canaan’s promised land.”
A favorite inscription of the period is found upon the headstone of Jacob Chamberlain, who died in 1822: “Come look and see as you pass by; As you are now, so once was I; As I am now, so you must be; Prepare to die and follow me.”
There is a triumphant ring in the epitaph of Ebenezer P. Perry: “My flesh shall slumber in the ground, Till Gabriel’s joyful trump shall sound.”
A similar thought is expressed in the epitaph of Leman C. Tufts, who died in 1849: “Friends and physicians could not save This mortal body from the grave; Nor can the grave confine it here. When Christ shall call it to appear.”
The following lines also contain the thought of the resurrection of the body: “Till Christ returns, Thy dear remains, My bosom, friend, Lies here for worms.”
Here are the graves of a son of the Rev. Daniel Shepardson, pastor of the Methodist Church in 1826, of a daughter of the Rev. Nathan Fellows, pastor of the Methodist church in 1845, and a son of the Rev. Samuel Rawson, pastor of the Presbyterian Church in 1846.
Here lie buried pioneers of the township, soldiers of the Revolution, soldiers of the war of 1812, and men once prominent in the business affairs of the town. On one stone is the simple inscription, “My Mother.” Loving hands erected these stones in memory of dear ones, but now many of them are falling and some are prone upon the ground. Some of these stones are carved with a weeping willow and words expressive of grief and affection. Can it be that now no one cares? It was not always thus; but, those who led in the care of this God’s acre have passed on or moved away. I would that someone would arise to do for this historic ground what has been done for the Rushford Cemetery.
Helen White Gilbert,
Rushford, N.Y., June 1918.
Note—Before this article reached the printer, work had been begun in the First Burying Ground. Many will rejoice that the Ground now promises to be put in its previous good condition. (hwg)