Historians in the Willing area have been hearing rumors of an old cemetery that was destroyed in the name of progress for many years. Hazel Shear, former Willing Town Historian, as well as one time Allegany County Historian conducted several interviews in 1969 with old timers in the Willing area to try and piece together what she could of the cemetery. As a member of the DAR, she was extremely interested in the old cemetery and the rumors of several old soldiers buried there. Her notes have been passed down to Christina Wightman, the current Willing Town Historian, and she graciously allowed us to use them here.
Mrs. Shear never intended to publish this information unless she could find absolute proof of the existence of the cemetery. Her work is based on the interviews she conducted and her research into the families and cemeteries of the Willing area. The memos were intended to be used for her notes only, and we publish them here in an effort to gather more information. It is hoped that our readers may have further information on the people who were buried there.
Please use any information you may find here cautiously, especially for genealogical purposes.
A little background into the fate of the cemetery: A good road from Wellsville into Pennsylvania was very much in demand by the driving and working public. News articles in 1929 describe the existing roadway as a “rough, tough proposition. All who travel it are sore, physically as well as mentally, and it is hard luck we can’t find some goat to saddle the blame upon”. This 1929 Wellsville Daily Reporter article announced the Genesee Highway will be built next year. A contractor named H. E. Bunce of Hornell was awarded the job, which started in May 1930.
Mr. Bunce used local labor to grade the highway, and he worked quickly during the summer of 1930 to complete the eight plus miles between Stannards and Genesee PA. before winter set in. Unfortunately, an old cemetery was in the path of the new road. Some of the stories Mrs. Shear recorded tell of machinery simply slicing through the old cemetery without a thought to relocating the bodies. Nothing of this was noted in the local newspapers, perhaps because of the great demand for a proper road. Note that laws protecting cemeteries did not exist at that time. Mrs. Shear’s notes follow:
“This cemetery was located on Lot 9, Willing, and although for several years I was told that it was called the Rogers Cemetery, we believe that Withey was correct since it was on the Calvin Withey farm. The (old) Willing Town sheds now occupy the place where the cemetery was torn out. It is on Route 19, north of Yorks Corners on the west side of the road, between what is now called the Palmer Road the Beach Hill Road.
The land was acquired by the Ackermans who owned lot 8, or perhaps the land north of the highway may have originally been owned by the Ackermans. It was almost directly across from the Withey homestead, now (1969) the home of Bernard Fanton. William Cook said that when he was going to school at Yorks whenever there was a flood, some of the graves would wash out and float down stream. In 192_ (1930) when Route 19 was built, Clyde Ackerman sold the land and cemetery to a contractor by the name of Bunce who had the contract for building the road. He employed some local help. Some of the men quit work when he ordered the (destruction of the cemetery).
Milton Loring, always interested in local history, tried to locate a map of the cemetery. He knew that at one time there had been a fairly good map, but no one ever found it. He thought that it was laid out to be 80 x 22, but that was “from memory”. Also, it was surveyed by a good surveyor. When I looked for the deed to the cemetery, I looked under the name of Rogers, and have not tried to find it under the name of Withey. It would possibly be in one of the miscellaneous books if not in the deed book. (Mrs. Shear refers to record books in Belmont)
By piecing together what information has been available some of the names of those buried there have been found. It was said to be the oldest cemetery in the town with the possible exception of the Stephens Cemetery in Shongo. Going over the list it is interesting to notice that nearly all the family names were of those who lived on the Palmer and Beach Hill roads and the immediate vicinity of Yorks. Mr. and Mrs. Olin Woodcock and other older people said that many of the deaths were from typhoid, scarlet fever and black diphtheria. There is just one date from the records of Milton Loring:
Rogers, Ella, daughter of Allen and Susan Graves Rogers, 1871 – 1884, black diphtheria.
Rogers, Josiah, father of Charles, Stillman, Angeline Ackerman and Sally Mapes. Josiah Rogers was an 1812 Veteran
Rogers, Revolutionary soldiers (I can find no one to fit this in Rogers data)
Rogers, Stillman and wives Susy and Sally and at least 2 children
Rogers, possibly Emily Whipple Rogers, wife of Josiah.
Ackerman, Elisha and several others. Elisha’s burial place is a moot point. A correspondent says that he died in the West but there is also a record of his death in the town of Wirt. If he died in Wirt, he could have been brought to this cemetery, but nothing is really known about it.
Again, Milton Loring said that there were at least two Revolutionary soldiers buried there, one of them may have been a Gibbs. There were several Gibbs early in that section of Willing. There were also said to be one or two very old people who came in with the early settlers.
Beaudine – possibly several members of this family. At one time the “run” coming from Beach Hill to Yorks was called Beaudine Run for this family who lived somewhere near the “Old Burrows Place”.
Withey, Calvin – some argument locally about his burial. He may have been buried here, but a marker later set in another cemetery?
These names other than those mentioned above were supposed to be there:
Sherwood (was this the Rev. soldier Andrew Sherwood whose burial place has never positively been found?)
Arthur Linza (father of Max) told me that he helped when they “cleaned up” the old cemetery and that he carried the old tombstones down on the lot line of the Ackerman farm (between lots 8 and 9) and stacked them in the hedgerow there. Later he and some of the men around Yorks including James Rahr, went to copy them but they had all been removed.
Hazel M. Shear
June 14, 1969
ADDITIONAL NOTES FROM JUNE 15, 1969
Stillman Rogers is said to be buried there beside his father, mother and two wives.
Albert Rogers and wife – (James Rahr remembered)
Another item says that some Cooks and Clairs were buried there. I doubt there having been any Cooks. Their record is quite well preserved – they are buried at Yorks and the other generation in Cook (or sometimes called Lee) cemetery west of Alfred Station.
This has been such a matter of guess work that I have always hesitated to pass on my few scrambled notes, always hoping to find some accurate proofs.”
Now we ask the viewing public.
Do you have any evidence of this cemetery? Are there any family diaries, pictures or stories in your family that may help prove this cemetery existed? Please let us know.
(Article Submitted by Mary Rhodes)