Sunday, July 15, 2018

Wisner Cemetery in Elmira New York

In the year 1877, the old Wisner Cemetery rested in the heart of Elmira New York, “deteriorated, and appearing as though it had no care for many years.”  The citizens of the town had determined that it was an eyesore, and were ready to repurpose the land for a community park.  The town council evaluated the situation, and prepared to remove the bodies to the town’s newer Woodlawn Cemetery.

Several descendants of my 8x-great-grandfather Peter Mathews had originally been buried in the Wisner Cemetery, mostly during the 1830’s.  It was in the years 1876 and 1877 that their bodies were removed to other cemeteries in the area, either by family members, or by the city of Elmira.  

Researcher Joyce Tice gives an excellent account of the Wisner Cemetery at her Tri-Counties Genealogy and History website.  It includes a history of the land originally owned by the Wisner family, the establishment of the cemetery in 1802, and details of the removal of bodies in 1877.  It also includes a newspaper article, published in Elmira’s Daily Advertiser of 20th October 1875, with the title, and sub-titles – AMONG THE DEAD; The Story of the Tombstones; The Wisner Park Burying Ground; The Bodies of Those Buried There to Be Removed; Some Account of the Spot and the names of Those Who Therein Do Lie.

The “Tri-Counties” website also includes a list of the two hundred and seventy-seven headstones in the Wisner Cemetery that were inventoried before the removal:

Before all the headstones were removed, Ausburn Towner, a local historian, newspaperman, and writer, copied the inscriptions the best he could, and the data was published in the local newspapers.

The list, as published at the “Tri-Counties” website, also includes bracketed notes, and identifies “markers which were found on August 27, 1973, at the Woodlawn Cemetery, Elmira, New York, by Doris Boyd.”

In reviewing this list, I have identified ten persons who are descendants (or spouses of descendants) in our Mathews family, and I wanted to follow-up here with their burial story:

Matthew Carpenter, Major General; 26 Sep 1759 – 6 Oct 1839; 79y 12m 10d; Revolutionary War Soldier. Died in the 81st year of his age.
Note: Matthew Carpenter, husband of Catherine Mathews.
[Towner 1875; to Woodlawn 1876; Boyd 1977; FindAGrave 2012 – Woodlawn, Elmira]

Catherine Carpenter; 1764/65 – 28 Oct 1830; 65y; Wife of Major General M Carpenter.
Note – Catherine Mathews, daughter of James Mathews and Hannah Strong.
[Towner 1875; to Woodlawn 1876; Boyd 1977; FindAGrave 2012 – Woodlawn, Elmira]

Robert Lawrence, Esq
Note – Robert Lawrence, husband of Catherine “Locky” Carpenter. This is a shale tombstone which contains no data. Trinity Episcopal Church records show a Lawrence as being buried 19 May 1834.
[Towner 1875; to Woodlawn by City of Elmira 1876; Boyd 1977; FindAGrave 2017 – Woodlawn, Elmira]

Locky Lawrence; 20 Nov 1785 – 13 Dec 1817; 32y 23d; In Memory Of, Wife of Robert Lawrence.
Note – Catherine “Locky” Carpenter.  Carpenter Family Bible records states that her name was “Catherine”, and she was the daughter of Matthew and Catherine Mathews Carpenter.
[Towner 1875; to Woodlawn by City of Elmira 1876; Boyd 1977; FindAGrave 2012 – Woodlawn, Elmira]

Fletcher Mathews; 19 July 1775 – 16 Feb 1814; 38y 6m 28d; In Memory Of.
Note – Fletcher Mathews, son of James Mathews and Hannah Strong.
[Towner 1875; FindAGrave 2012  - Maple Grove, Horseheads]

Peter Mathews; 11 May 1789 – 24 Oct 1826; 37y 5m 13d.
Note – Peter Mathews, son of Selah Mathews and Mary Strong.
[Towner 1875]

Selah Mathews; 1761/62 – 9 Nov 1833; 71y
Note – Selah Mathews, son of James Mathews and Hannah Strong. Appears in a list of burials for Maple Grove Cemetery in Horseheads, Chemung county, New York.
[Towner 1875]

Thomas Mathews; 5 Sep 1786 – 16 Jun 1836; 49y 9m 11d.
Note –Thomas Mathews’ parentage is uncertain, but he may be the man who married Rebecca Mathews, daughter of Vincent Mathews and Juliana Strong.  Trinity Episcopal Church records state he was buried 18 June 1836 by Rev Richard Smith. 
[Towner 1875]

Robert Mathews; Sep 1809 – 28 Aug 1835; 25y 11m.
Note – Robert Mathews, son of Selah Mathews and Mary Strong.
[Towner 1875]

Amira Thompson; Jul 1801 – 20 Oct 1839; 38y 2m; Wife of R H Thompson.
Note – Amira Carpenter, daughter of Matthew Carpenter and Catherine Mathews.
[Towner 1875]

For more details on the people listed here, visit their pages at the Markham of Chesterfield website.

Further Reading:
Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice

About the Photo: 
Trinity Church, Elmira New York; 2008 by LvKlock, creative commons.

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