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Volume 4 Edition 9!

LOCATING BURIAL GROUNDS WITHIN THE TOWN

 

I feel that it is important to add burial grounds, both active and inactive throughout the Town of North Collins and the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation as well. I believe that a discussion of the geographical evolution of the Town of Collins is in order. Understanding this evolution can be a great asset to those researching their ancestors they believe to have lived in the area.

Situated in the southwestern portion of Erie County; the present Town of Collins is bounded by the Cattaraugus Creek to the south; the Town of Concord to the east; the Town of North Collins to the north; and a portion of the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation to the west.

Until 1772, although no township had been designated, the area remained under the claims of Massachusetts, and was known as Albany County. In 1772, the area became designated Tryon County. This was changed to Montgomery County in 1784, with the Township of Whitestown finally being designated in 1788.

During 1789 the area became known as Ontario County and the township Northampton. A further division of territory came the same year, creating Genesee County which remained intact until 1808. During the Genesee County reign two separate townships were designated, first Batavia (1802), second Erie (1805).

In 1808 a further territorial division occurred, creating Niagara County, thus the terminology "The Niagara Frontier" which remains today. The Township of Willink was also designated in 1808, in 1812, the area became the Town of Concord.

While the present Town of Collins celebrates 1812 as it's original inception, it was not until March 16, 1821, that the Town of Collins was actually set off from the Town of Concord.  Two weeks later, on April 2, 1821, the County of Erie was set off from Niagara County. 

The area remained known as the Town of Collins, Erie County until November 24, 1852, when the final geographical division was creating, setting aside the Town of North Collins and giving the area the geographical  territories known today.

  

Collins - Collins Center
Erie County
New York

BURIAL GROUNDS -  INACTIVE

Clear Creek Friends Cemetery

       

 As was the custom in the "Old World"  early Americans "lay their dead in a shadow of the church;" The Collins - Collins Center area shows little exception to that rule. Relatively speaking, if you locate a church, or the location of a past church, you will also locate a burial ground. 

The early Quaker meeting-house at Bagdad, also known as Clear-Creek Friends, had its own burial ground as well. In the ALNORCA Series the burial ground was said to have been located "on the abandoned road which ran across the farm owned by Mr . Taylor Martin." 

In reality the burial ground and Meeting House were located on a slope just a bit northeast of the  corner of South Quaker street and West Becker road. According to notes maintained by the Collins Friends, a log Meeting House was constructed at this site in 1819. A frame Meeting house was erected here in 1838, a few years later, another frame meeting house was constructed a northern section of Clear Creek near the present Route 39. The Clear Creek Meeting House was discontinued in 1850. It has been noted that more than 300 families are buried here, mainly persons  of the Society of Orthodox Friends, a group allowing no stones to  mark their resting places.  The Collins Friends have invited me to utilize their records and resident cemetery expert in search of documentation concerning persons buried in this cemetery.

Any stones that may have been placed had disappeared long before the 1930's leaving any newer residents to believe that a mere empty field lay in its place. The slope today is a field, plowed, planted and harvested by a local farmer.

For posterity sake, we shall quote the ALNORCA Series to offer some evidence of the people who were laid to rest in the Clear Creek Friends Cemetery: "David Aikens was the first person to be buried there. He was a blacksmith who had a shop in Taylor's Hollow as early as 1822. The second was Mrs. Deborah Tucker. Members of the Soule family occupied a long row of graves through the center of the yard. No trace of this cemetery remains."

The Harris Cemetery

   Lying in the tangle of overgrowth and trees, on the back portion of the Ken Martin farm, lies the old Hicksite Friends cemetery (Hicksite Friends were thusly noted because they were  members  of the ``liberal'' party, headed by Elias Hicks.  Due to a change of views concerning the divinity of Christ and the Atonement, this group seceded from the conservative portion of the Society of Friends in the United States, continued next column

 

 

 

Continued from previous colum

in 1827). This cemetery, also known as the Harris Cemetery is located west of Jennings road near the south branch of Clear Creek (near Conger Road). As the other noted Quaker burial grounds, this location also  marks the location of a former Friends Meeting house. As early as the 1930'  notations concerning the cemetery read: "Only a few stones are left standing among the almost impenetrable tangles of weed and eglantine, presumably the more recent ones." In the 1960's a similar notation was made: "the few stones are now covered with vines and underbrush."

The ALNORCA Series noted:  "Among the inscriptions on these are: Mary Edmunds-1843, Elizabeth, wife of Abner Taft-1855, Jonathan Soule-1849, Rhoda Boyce-1853." Today, these few inscriptions are all that are remembered of the burial ground.

Quaker Cemetery

       

The old inactive burial ground located on the north side of Route  39 and midway between the hamlets of Collins Center and Collins, in the Town of Collins,  marks the location of another Friends meeting house. This House of Worship, which is said to have been located across the present Route 39, was abandoned about 1885, and a new place of worship was established within the hamlet of Collins. The burial ground, established in 1811 remains, although year by year more markers fall prey to the elements of nature. The irony of the gate that remains, while the fence surrounding the cemetery has long since vanished, is another disaster so many cemeteries face these days.

There are a few markers that have persevered, such as those marking the graves of; Augustus Smith, who is said to be the donor of the land for the burial ground.

He, along with  Joshua Palmerton, one of the first pioneers to the area, attributed to the first house creating the settlement of Collins Center are interned here.

  

The Irish, Cook or Shaw Cemetery 

Known as the  Irish, Cook or Shaw Cemetery on  Foster Road,  is located on a ridge, away from the road. As fall approaches, the cemetery is an easy find, in the cover of the summer brush, unless you are familiar with the area, the cemetery remains hidden from those seeking it. I suppose that may be why this cemetery seems to have maintained its self-respect and dignity. Those willing to desecrate burial grounds, have not realized it exists.  

In the ALNORCA Series it is stated that the cemetery lies: "within sight of the great elm by the schoolhouse."  I have been unable to understand whether a second school house was located near the burial ground, or if the inference relates to the "Little Red School House" situated a quarter of a mile east.   ALANORCA also indicated: "Here are found examples of an old-fashioned type of tombstone in which is embedded a picture of the deceased, protected by a swinging cover. During a recent visit to the location (July 17, 2002) I was unable to locate any such tombstones, although I did note that the inscriptions dated back to 1840.

Another quote from ALNORCA that I found rather interesting indicates: "Irish, Cook, Bates, Lindsley, Phillips and Shaw are among the names that appear-forebears of Mrs. Elton Wells, Grant Shaw and Lloyd Phillips of Gowanda and Mrs. Isaac Skuse, Mr .Everett Potter and Mr .Arthur Cook of Collins Center. Here, too, are buried Samuel Warner and his wife Mary-
grandparents of Sumner Warner of Collins and "Pop" Warner of the gridiron."

One of the more infamous persons buried here is Col. Sylvanus Cook who obtained the rank of Colonel in the 198th Regiment of Infantry in 1838. His commission was signed by the governor of New York, William Marcy. Cook's most prized possession, a sword with a bone handle mounted with a brass eagle head, was still possessed by his descendants in the Collins Center area as late as 1933

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  1. Return to Main Genealogical Resource Page

  2. 1998 Deaths

  3. 1999 Death Notices

  4. 2000 Deaths

  5. 2001 Deaths

  6. 2002 Deaths

  7. Misc. Years Death Notices / Obituaries

  8. Cattaraugus Indian Reservation Deaths: 1997 - 1998

  9. Cattaraugus Indian Reservation Deaths 1999 - 2000

  10. Cattaraugus Indian Reservation Deaths: 2001 - 2002

  11. Collins Center Cemetery Internments

  12. Joshua Palmerton Genealogy

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    Page Last Updated 7/21/2002
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