CAZENOVIA – On Saturday May 14, more than a dozen members of Cazenovia Heritage and Cazenovia Preservation Foundation (CPF) completed the first stage of the restoration of historic Farnham Cemetery near Grassy Lane Road in Cazenovia.
Cazenovia Heritage is a community organization that seeks to conserve the region’s cultural resources, including historic architecture, neighborhoods, sites and objects that contribute to Cazenovia’s unique sense of place and character.
CPF is a private, non-profit organization that works to protect the historic, agricultural, and natural resources of Cazenovia and the surrounding area for the benefit of the community and the enjoyment of future generations.
Cazenovia Heritage member Eric Beyer inspired the idea for the restoration project last summer when he mentioned the existence of the cemetery to Cazenovia Heritage president Anne Ferguson.
The abandoned cemetery, located on land adjacent to Beyer’s property, had numerous fallen headstones covered in years of accumulated leaves and vegetation.
According to Ferguson, Cazenovia Heritage thought the cemetery cleanup would be a good National Preservation Month event, both in terms of preserving a historic site and recognizing some of Cazenovia’s early settlers.
“When Anne approached me and asked if CPF might be interested in helping with this project, I thought it was a great idea,” said CPF CEO Jen Wong. “CPF’s dedicated stewardship volunteers are used to doing trail work and other maintenance projects on our properties. It was an opportunity for them to put their skills to work and learn a little more about one of Cazenovia’s first families, while fulfilling an important aspect of our mission, which includes protecting historic resources. of Cazenovia and its surroundings for the benefit of the community. ”
The first stage of work involved sweeping the flattened headstones and removing wild raspberries, honeysuckles and other invasive brush.
The second stage is scheduled for October 16, 2022, when a few headstones will be erected by a professional headstone conservator.
“The aim is not to restore the cemetery to a pristine site, but to maintain its rural character, to elevate and protect the stones from further damage and to restore dignity and honor to its occupants,” he said. explained Ferguson.
Jonathan Farnham (1779-1851) purchased the land on which the cemetery stands (lot #20) in 1812. Eventually Farnham was buried there along with his wife, their five adult children and two of their children’s wives.
Today the cemetery sits in the woods on its own unclaimed land.
The 33 graves represent only 10 families.
“Most of everyone buried here was either close friends or relatives of the Farnhams,” Ferguson said.
The oldest grave is that of Lodema Cowles Tillotson (1787 – 1814), wife of Ephraim Tillotson (1786 – 1864) who purchased neighboring lot #22.
Ephraim is buried with his three wives and his daughter Orange, who married George Atwell, grandfather of Christine Atwell (1887-1939), author on the history of Cazenovia.
According to Ferguson, the oldest age depicted in the cemetery is Rufus Lyon, 90, and the youngest is Laura Farnham, four months.
Ferguson also highlighted the following cemetery occupants:
Revolutionary War veteran Zenas Hays (1759-1837) and his wife, Sarah. Hays enlisted at age 17 as part of the Connecticut bloodline and served nearly seven years.
John M. Reed (1775 – 1845), who arrived in Cazenovia in 1821, along with his wife and daughter.
Lovisa Marsh (1793-1847), who was one of 26 known babies born in the year Cazenovia was settled.
To learn more about Cazenovia Heritage, visit cazheritage.org.
For more information on the CPF, visit cazpreservation.org.