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The Dansville Online
  • Efforts put emphasis on ‘Old Village Cemetery’

  • For the past several months, efforts by father-son duo Ross and Bob Glover, as well as other volunteers, are helping to restore and honor the legacy of the forgotten cemetery in which Dansville’s founding citizens once, and still yet, may lay.

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  • Quiet and serene, Instructor Park was once a gateway for the F.A. Owen and Wilcox Press companies. But long before that, it was a cemetery.
    For the past several months, efforts by father-son duo Ross and Bob Glover, as well as other volunteers, are helping to restore and honor the legacy of the forgotten cemetery in which Dansville’s founding citizens once, and still yet, may lay.
    “This is the worst part about the whole thing is the fact that the people who are responsible for this village were buried there and they’ve been forgotten,” Ross said.
    Nathaniel Rochester owned the land that is now Instructor Park, West Liberty Street and Church Park. Rochester sold the lot to Dansville for the purposes of a burying ground in 1811. It had already been used as such (to Rochester’s surprise) in his absentia.
    The first death and burial in Dansville was Captain Nathaniel Porter in 1797, a Revolutionary War hero and father in-law to Captain Daniel Faulkner, for whom Dansville was named.
    The lot changed some throughout the years, as West Liberty Street was built through part of the land that now separates the two lots, Instructor and Church parks. No one knows whether the street was built over the interred, and there is no indication that any bodies were ever buried in the portion that is Church Park.
    In 1888, the village board decided to set a period of four months for relatives of the deceased to exhume the bodies from Old Village Cemetery, as it became known, and inter the bodies elsewhere, so the village could turn the old cemetery into a park.
    “A list of 33 remains out of an estimated 500 were removed,” North Dansville historian Ken?Holbrook wrote in a brief history of the cemetery he compiled in March.
    “In May of 1889, a dozen men leveled the area and cleaned it up. The stones were taken by wagon to Greenmount and piled along a service road. Most of them were made of wood and have since deteriorated and...were just disposed of. The stones went on the new graves of the ones that were moved, and the rest were just piled behind the barn at Greenmount,” his history also said.
    The pile of stones remain behind the barn, and some that were tossed over a bank at the top of Greenmount also remain at the bottom to this date.
    Since not all descendents exhumed bodies of the deceased for one reason or another, some remains are therefore presumed to still be under Instructor Park.
    Bob Glover, while in the midst of researching local graves for his family’s genealogy and providing additional information on  graves to libraries, local historians and on the internet for others to research, learned of Old Village Cemetery’s history through his father’s neighbor, Jane Schryver.
    Page 2 of 2 - “The more we looked into it, the more we realized that something has to be done to preserve the history of that burying grounds and those who remain interred there,”?Glover, who lives in Sleepy Hollow, said via email.
    Bob has collected data on Greenmount, Holy Cross and Dansville (Steuben County) cemeteries.
    “We are also posting the key records of as many of our citizens buried there as we can find through research and tombstone transcriptions. This to both better preserve the history of those buried and to assist family history research for those unable to make it to the cemeteries to do their own transcriptions,”?Bob  said in another email.
    The Glovers have photos of every tombstone at Forest Lawn, Doty’s Corners, South Oak Hill and Bluff Point.
    A number of volunteers have helped the Glovers take photos and transcriptions of several sections at Greenmount.
    “We could use more volunteers,”?Bob said. “Even if it is just sending along info on a few family members.”
    To date, Bob has helped post more than 3,000 names on the Painted Hills Geneology Society website and more than 100 family members have contacted Bob for information on their family’s geneology as a result.
    Bob is in the process of looking into a suitable marker to honor the dead still interred under Instructor Park and to preserve it as an historic site.
    His intentions are to propose to the village board a large rock with a bronze plaque at the site, similar to the one dedicated to Sgt. Devin Snyder in Cohocton on Veteran’s Day.
    The marker would be funded through private donations. Descendants of Nathaniel Porter have  expressed interest in contributing.
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