New York State Cemetery for burial of Convicts from Auburn State Prison in Auburn, NY -
Land Title Timeline

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4 July 1873 A plot of land located on Fitch Avenue in Auburn NY was purchased from Lewis Paddock by Lewis E. Carpenter, as Agent and Warden of Auburn State Prison for $500. This parcel of land is 66-feet (4-Rods) wide in the front and back and 231-feet (14-Rods) deep as measured back from the center of Fitch Ave.  This land was used as a burial lot for the unclaimed remains of deceased convicts that died or were executed while in Auburn State Prison.   The remains of some prison convicts interred within this state cemetery were cloaked with ‘Quicklime’ during burial and all resided in unmarked graves. See warranty deed #139_460&461 [PDF]
21 July 1874 A plot of land located on Fitch Avenue in Auburn NY was conveyed by Jonathan S. & Helen C Manro to Lewis E. Carpenter, as Agent and Warden of Auburn State Prison. This deed cites the same boundary description as the prior conveyance from Lewis Paddock. This is a quitclaim deed to convey whatever possible interest in the premises was held by Jonathan S. & Helen C. Manro. It appears that "Manro" was an owner of adjacent lands on Fitch Ave.
See quitclaim deed #140-275&276 [PDF]
4 March 1909 George W. Benhan as Agent & Warden of Auburn Prison sells the Cemetery Land on Fitch Avenue to J. Hermon Woodruff for $300. Note that this quitclaim deed cites that the land had been "occupied by said prison as a burial lot for deceased convicts". See Deed #40-399&400 [PDF]
21 April 1909 The Post Standard (Newspaper) Syracuse NY-
Wednesday April 21, 1909
HUMAN BONES ARE UNEARTHED - Graves In Convict Cemetery At Auburn Disturbed - AUTHORITIES ARE NOTIFIED - Relic Hunters, It Is Said, Carried Away Gruesome Souvenirs - Fence May Be Built Around Plot ---
Special To The Post Standard (Newspaper)- AUBURN - April 20 -
Complaint has been made to the authorities by residents of the Ninth ward that the remains of convicts buried in the convict cemetery in Fitch avenue have been disturbed. When these bodies were buried, it appears, that in many cases the graves were shallow and children playing about with shovels and hoes in building their mud castles have accidentally unearthed the bones of convicts. It is stated that relic hunters have taken occasion to add some of these bones to their collection of curios, although there is small reason for doing this, as it is very probable that the bones unearthed were not those of any very noted criminal. The murderers are buried in quicklime and the bodies are speedily destroyed. It is probable that the authorities will be obliged to erect a high fence about this cemetery. --------------
22 April 1909 Jay W. Robinson sells a parcel of land (66-feet by 247.5-ft deep as measured from the center of Franklin St.) to "People Of The State Of New York" for $250. This land is adjacent to Soule Cemetery in Sennett NY and was purchased as a new burial plot for unclaimed remains of convicts that died in Auburn Prison. See Deed #198-85&86 [PDF]

28 April 1909

Ithaca Daily News (Newspaper) – Wednesday April 28, 1909-
AUBURN – The old state burying ground in Fitch Avenue, where most of the criminals that have been electrocuted in Auburn Prison have been buried, has been sold by the state to J. Herman Woodruff for $300.  It is made a part of Fort Hill Cemetery.  The state has purchased a plot of ground adjoining the Soule Cemetery.  Pacy Hill, who was electrocuted Monday, was the first one to be buried in the new cemetery, as no one claimed the remains. -----------------------------

11 Sept. 1909 Syracuse Journal (Newspaper) - Sept. 11, 1909
AUBURN- About 25 bodies have been removed by prison employees from the convict burial plot in Fitch avenue to the new convict cemetery in Franklin cemetery. The removal is made necessary by reason of the sale of the lot in Fitch avenue by the State to Fort Hill Cemetery association.
12 March 1910 J. Hermon Woodruff & Caroline P.B. Woodruff conveys a rear portion of the former Fitch Avenue Auburn State Prison Cemetery Plot (About 66-ft by 66-ft) to The Fort Hill Cemetery Association. See Deed 42-221&222 [PDF]

23 Nov. 1910 J. Hermon Woodruff & Caroline P.B. Woodruff convey the front portion of the former Auburn Prison Cemetery lot on Fitch Avenue (About 66-ft. by 165-Ft.) to Porter Beardsley. Public 'Family Trees' via the website, suggest that J. Hermon Woodruff was a brother-in-law of Porter Beardsley. The 1902 Auburn City Directory cites that Porter Beardsley was a Trustee of the Fort Hill Cemetery Assn. The Auburn Semi-Weekly Journal (Newspaper) on March 13, 1908 cites that both J. Harmon Woodruff & Porter Beardsley were serving on an 'Improvements Committee" for the Fort Hill Cemetery Assn. See Warranty Deed 42-222 [PDF]
In 1910, this lot was known as 47 Fitch Ave. Ownership of this lot remained in the name of Porter Beardsley for over 40-years. Due to house re-numbering for the e-911 emergency system in circa 1999, this lot is now known as 63 Fitch Ave. in 2016.

1911 The 1911 Auburn NY Assessment Roll cites that Porter Beardsley owned a vacant lot, known as 47 Fitch Ave. View this page from the 1911 Auburn NY Assessment Roll
14 April 1919 A story published in the Auburn Citizen (Newspaper) on April 14, 1919 details the career of J. O. Lee, who worked at Fort Hill Cemetery for 50-years. The story explains how Mr. Lee may have buried (or supervised the burial of) over 10,000 persons at Fort Hill Cemetery.
Although the State Convict Cemetery on Fitch Ave is cited in the story as having "no connection" with Fort Hill Cemetery, Mr. Lee apparently observed or helped supervise burials there. This story cites that the first removal of graves at the State Cemetery on Fitch Ave for re-internment in Sennett, ocurred in about 1914, when Fort Hill purchased a 66-ft section of the State Convict Cemetery and there were about 100 graves exhumed at that time. However, according to deeds, Fort Hill purchased the 66-Ft. section in 1909 and news stories in 1909 cite that they removed about 25 graves. Mr. Lee indicated that there were 32-Rows within the State Convict Cemetery and approximately 285 graves. Consequently, based on the original State cemetery size (66-Ft X 231-Ft deep as measured from the center of Fitch Ave)., each row at the State Convict Cemetery was about 6-Ft-2in by 66-Ft.
6 April 1931

According to newspaper stories, the remains of burials at the former Auburn Prison Cemetery on Fitch Ave. in Auburn NY were removed and reinterred at the NY State Cemetery Land in Sennett NY. - See the news story below-
The Auburn Citizen (Newspaper) – Monday April 6, 1931-
Page 6-

Unwept for the unknown went many a inmate of Auburn Prison in a lonely grave in “Potter’s Field” near Fort Hill Cemetery during the hundred or more years of the history of Auburn Prison.  Now the bones and heaps of just ashes are being taken from their moldering caskets and transplanted to burying grounds recently purchased by the state near Soule Cemetery in the Town of Sennett.
A squad of grave diggers has been at work in the prisoner’s last resting place excavating the boxes and putting the few remaining bones in new boxes and then to their new graves in the Sennett burying place.  Bones and only bones have been taken from the grounds for the reason that quick lime and sulfuric acid was the cloak in which the dead inmates were buried. 
Unless the body was claimed by a relative, the prisoner was sent to “Potter’s Hill”.  All did not go there as it was a well-known fact that many of the well-known prisoners were sent to medical schools for post mortem examinations.  Some of the graves were those of men who paid their debt to justice by dying in the electric chair.  As far as is known, there was never a woman prisoner buried there.
The graves were unmarked and the lot was overrun with weeds.  Today, the ground was thrown open and men were busy with picks and shovels taking the coffins or what remained of them from the earth.  Truck whisked the sparse remains to the new plot.

Late July 2016 News stories in The Citizen (Newspaper) indicate that the owner of 63 Fitch Ave in Auburn NY found human bones in their backyard while cleaning up the area & installing a fence.
7 Sept. 2016 Pursuant to a news story published in The Citizen (Newspaper), the NY State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision agreed to rebury remains of inmates found on July 23, 2016 in the backyard of 63 Fitch Avenue in Auburn NY. The department will rebury the remains found in July 2016 in a cemetery at the Marcy NY Correctional Facility.
26 Sept. 2016 A news story with details about the inmate bones discovered on July 23, 2016 in the backyard of 63 Fitch Ave. is published by 'The New York Times'. The story is titled: Bones Unearthed In Finger Lakes Backyard Are Those Of Long-Dead Inmates. See website:
11 Jan. 2017 A story published in 'The Citizen' (Newspaper) on January 11, 2017, cites that the backyard was examined further and they found remains from about 150 bodies. These remains were exhumed from the Fitch Avenue (Auburn NY) location and re-buried in the cemetery at Marcy Correctional Facility in Marcy, NY. DOCCS officials said they will continue to work with the city in the event that any additional remains are discovered.
Some Pre-1900 Cayuga County NY Land Records can be searched on the FamilySearch website. -
Deed documents are recorded in the Cayuga County Clerk's Office -
Early newspapers can be searched on the FultonHistory Website -
Additional information about the history of Auburn Prison can be found on the New York Correction History Society Website -
Cayuga Museum - Cayuga County Historian's Office -
Seymour Library History Discovery Center -
View an image of the "Fort Hill Remains" marker at the Auburn State Prison Cemetery in Sennett NY on the Find-A-Grave website
  Map showing the location of Cemeteries within the Town of Sennett NY [PDF] -
  The information on this website page is intended for personal genealogy and local history research only. The Cayuga County NYGenWeb Project does not guarantee the contents of research materials and/or the expertise of any professional researchers and project volunteers. Compiled by Bernie Corcoran in July 2016 for the Cayuga County NYGenWeb Project
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