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by Florence Wright

Who lies beneath that is unknown

This place of rest which once could tell,

Hold stories of forgotten souls

Once known in town amongst them well

A small cemetery sits behind the back yards of homes on Mill Street in the Village of Almond, NY. It is said to be one of the oldest in Allegany County. The dates on tombstones go back as far as ones in the Ferry/McHenry Cemetery perhaps the oldest in Almond. Many of the stones no longer have names and dates, some are hard to read, others are gone. They are scattered under the trees in a wooded area with a few in back yards. Empty spaces between graves leads one to believe there were more stones years ago which are now lost in time. Abandoned for years the cemetery was cleaned up a number of years ago but nature is slowly again taking over this hallowed ground. Unmarked, one could drive through town and never know of this cemetery’s existence.

My husband, David Wright, a former Almond resident and I became intrigued with Merwin Cemetery when we discovered his 3x great grandmother was buried there. Upon visiting the cemetery and going over the records list I realized there were so many early settlers buried here of which others weren’t aware. Many years ago John Reynolds and Wayne Kellogg put together lists of those buried in this cemetery as well as most cemeteries in the area. They spent a lot of time and effort digging around to find as many graves as possible. It was from their list and the DAR list that I got my start into learning of the people buried in Merwin.

The first settlers to the area came from Luzerne County, PA. of whom the most notable and written about were the group led by Rev. Andrew Gray. John Reynolds in The Almond Story tells of others, some buried in Merwin. It is in this small hidden cemetery that one can learn who some of the others were not written about that followed and settled in the area.

William Gray, brother of the Rev. Gray also came and settled in McHenry Valley. His wife Elizabeth, age 49 died on Feb.17, 1813 and is buried in Merwin. In 1813 there was an epidemic of what we would today call influenza. At that time the disease was referred to often as malaria fever or pneumonia typhoid, hundreds were afflicted and the death toll was high. A DAR list shows a note by the name of Elizabeth Gray that reads “husband’s gone perhaps recently”. Was William, her husband then also buried there?

Luke Clark was perhaps another victim of this epidemic buried in 1813 at the age of 67. He was the son of A. Clark. There are three known Clarks in Merwin. A. Clark is Asa Clark who was a blacksmith by trade. He constructed a gristmill in the southern part of the Village of Almond which was located on the eastern bank of the creek near the end of Mill St. and hence the cemetery. This mill was later and best known as Braack’s Mill. Asa also owned a distillery thought to be in the area near the cemetery. (Information from The Almond Story, by John Reynolds). A. Clark is buried in Merwin, he died in 1841 at the age of 82. Julia Ann Clark the daughter of Joel J. and Pricilla Clark is also buried near by. She was 5 months old at the time of her death in 1836. A. Clark’s wife could be another of the missing tombstones.

A number of early settlers came from the town of Huntington Mills, PA a part of Luzerne County. Whether they too traveled together or came a few years apart is unknown but most arrived in the early 1800s. Daniel Hopkins with his wife Elizabeth and five of her children were one of these families.

Elizabeth Wilkinson was born in CT and married Seth Trescott. The Trescott family was also from CT. and were the original settlers of Huntington Mills. Elizabeth and Seth had seven children. Upon Seth’s death in 1826 she married Daniel Hopkins. The Hopkins were an established family in Huntington Mills where they owned and operated a mill. Daniel and Elizabeth Trescott Hopkins came to Almond, NY where her children married into Almond families. In the 1850 census Daniel Hopkins is listed as blind. Most likely buried in Merwin Cemetery, there is no stone still standing for him but his wife Elizabeth’s stone is still there and she died in January of 1855 the widow of Daniel.

Elizabeth Trescott Hopkin’s daughter Elizabeth married Alfred Armstrong. Elizabeth Armstong died in 1848 and is buried in Merwin. Their son Adelbert died in 1849 just four months after his mother’s death. A 6 month old male child is buried near this family but his name or parents are unknown. Alfred Armstrong remarried and had four children with his second wife Caroline Bartlett. He was a wagon maker and undertaker and served in the Civil War as an Almond soldier. He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery.

Elizabeth Trescott Hopkins’ daughter Orilla Trescott married Levi H. Mason. Two of the Mason children Levi Seth and Sarah Elizabeth are buried in Merwin. By 1860 the Mason family had moved to Andover, NY. They had another son two years later who they named Levi H. and four other children. Levi Mason, Sr. was an innkeeper in Andover. Levi H. Jr returned to Almond where he was a tanner. He lived for a while with Wesley and Maryette Gibbs. Maryette Gibbs was the sister of Amos Wright who married Angeline Trescott, another daughter of Elizabeth Hopkins.

Flavia Ann Trescott yet another daughter of Elizabeth Trescott Hopkins is also buried in Merwin. She never married and died in 1845. The tombstones of these families are all near each other in a cluster of bushes.

The Lawrence family buried in Merwin also came from Huntington Mills. Rufus Lawrence and his wife Temperance came to the area in these early years. It is thought they lived in Hornellsville near the town of Almond. There is a double marker for Rufus who died in 1825 at the age of 90 and his wife Temperance who died in 1823. His son Lemuel died in 1838 at the age of 63 and his wife Sarah who died in 1853 at the age of 72 are also buried near them. A son of Nathan Lawrence who died in 1823 and was named Almond was a grandson to Rufus and Temperance. William Lincoln who lived on the Almond Rd. in Hornellsville just outside the town limits of Almond was executor of Lemuel Lawrence’s will. William Lincoln’s mother was also a Temperance Lawrence but a family connection has not yet been established.

The oldest legible stone in 2007 was 1812 and that of Enos Seaward who died in August of that year and was possibly a former Huntington Mills resident. He was 76 at the time of his death and his wife Mary’s stone may be among yet another missing. There are two small Haskin children who were grandchildren and are buried there also. Enos Seaward married the widow of Nathaniel Haskins. He was listed as one of the early members of the Presbyterian Church in June of 1812.

Nathaniel Dike came from PA and was an early settler to Elm Valley. His wife Esther R. is buried in Merwin. She died at the age of 74 but no date is visible on her tombstone. Is Nathaniel also buried here? A stone of a James Dike is imbedded in a tree trunk and two sons (no names) of a James and Phebe Dike died in 1816 and are also buried there. The puzzling part with this family name is that a James B. Dike was buried in 1824 in Woodlawn Cemetery where a James who died 1844 and Phebe who died 1852 are also buried. 1816 was an unusually cold year in the area. Ice, snow or a hard frost was experienced every month even through the summer. Almond was hard hit as was most of Allegany County. Crops were none existent and settlers were left with little to no food. Many newer settlers to the area moved on to look for better conditions. It was hard on many families and could have contributed to the deaths of many including the Dike boys.

The infant mortality rate was high in those days and there are many more graves of children in this cemetery. Lewis and Lucretia Green buried two children in Merwin, a daughter B. Ellen in 1847 at the age of 2 years and a son William in 1841 at the age of 7. Lewis and Lucretia moved to Andover where he was listed as a shoemaker in the census of 1860. They had six other children. Lewis and Lucretia are buried in Valley Brook Cemetery in Andover. Many others may have also left Almond whose children were buried in Merwin. Other young children in this cemetery were Clarinda M. Lynes who died at the age of 17 months and a L.H.L Lynes who died in 1826. The children of the families of Rawson, Reed, Stevens and Henry Waggoner are also buried in Merwin. Henry Waggoner was a grocery keeper in Almond. The Hydes buried two sons there, Albert and Andrew in 1836 and1839. Maria Hyde their mother was a widow in 1860 living in Almond. She buried her husband William who was a tailor in 1854 in Woodlawn Cemetery. The Johnsons buried their son Charles R. in 1833 and nothing further is known although several Johnsons lived in town not far from this cemetery. The oldest Johnson family appears to have been Lindsley and Laura born about 1788 in CT.

Sixty four year old Dan Warner died in 1822 and his wife Rachel in 1847. Rebecca Ross died in 1851, the wife of L.W. Ross and a Benjamin Ross age 70 in 1848. Nothing further is known on who they were or where they were born. Sarah Forbs, wife of Luke is also an unknown listed. Joseph Otis who was born in Berkshire, MA died in 1841 in Burns,NY and was buried in Merwin as well as his wife Huldah Hills born in CT who was buried there in 1853. Huldah was also the wife of Ephriam Clark. No stones are found in the cemetery for them and they are not listed on any cemetery records. (information from Otis Family Genealogy). Albert Brown a Civil War soldier from Almond who is buried in Fairview (Sand Hill) Cemetery is said to have also had a monument in his name in Merwin. (information from Civil War Records of Almond)

Albert was the son of Enoch Brown a blacksmith and his wife Ann.

Although the oldest stone recorded shows 1812 as the earliest burial many stones were probably buried, broken, or lost over the years from the earlier 1800s. It appears after 1855 that few burials took place here. Whether it was a lack of space or the great flood of 1855 there appears to be no stones dated later in the 1850s nor any from the 1860s. The cemetery sits close to the creek which overflowed its banks in 1855 causing deaths and hardships to many Almond families. Whether it destroyed any graves or flooded out the cemetery is not known but quite possible since the creek was said to have risen to an all time high level. One recorded burial of Rebecca Dana in 1878 is the exception after 1855. Perhaps she was laid to rest near other family members. There also were families who buried some of their family in Merwin and others in Woodlawn yet why we will never understand.

Merwin Cemetery got its present name from John Merwin who owned the property. His home was next to the cemetery where he lived in 1869 as shown on an Almond map. In the earlier years it was first named the Old Maney Cemetery. It is sometimes referred to also by Mill St. Cemetery due to its location. The grounds grow with a bed of myrtle and wild plants and blanket those that lie below.

Florence Wright 2007

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