4928 Lakeshore Drive, Bolton Landing, NY 12814 | 518-644-3831
Digging Up Ancestors in Bolton Landing
October 13th, 2013
Interested in your geneaology?
If some part of your family came from Bolton Landing, The Historical Society of the Town of Bolton has a great website: www.Boltonhistorical.org. On the Homepage, click on: On-Line Research for a list of data bases and indexes, including a listing of older cemeteries – also anything to do with Birth, Marriage, Death, Military Service and Census Records, with links to schedules (the Death Schedule lists causes of death) and a Marriage Ledger of one of the Justices of Peace who practiced here in the 1800s. There was even a list of funerals conducted from the two funeral homes in the past! There are also links to off site sources and neighboring Historical Societies with their own lists and resources – amature historian heaven!
The lists are one great place to start looking for your ancestors and lineage, and the internet is certainly convenient, especially if you live away from where ever your ancestors started out. However, sometimes the direct approach is required.
My cousin Linda has kept the family history for years. She recently read an article by another geneaologist stating that our great-great grandmother Polly was married to someone other than our great-great grandfather. Since Linda’s paperwork information was complete and accurate as far as she knew, further research was in order – the hands-on kind.
Linda knew that Polly was buried in an old family cemetery. She found the site of the old homestead and the approximate location of the cemetery, now well hidden in a woods. Four of the cousins-network made a date for the excursion to find the actual grave stones.
If you are going grave-stone hunting, wear old clothes and sturdy shoes, and here is a useful list of things to bring: several shovels of varying handle length, including a couple of hand-held ones; rakes of different width and strength; brushes varying in size from scrub- to tooth-; a pike for finding buried stones (makes a decent walking stick, too); clippers of all sizes from hedge- to flower-; flashlights for reading stones that are somewhat covered by dirt that you really don’t want to dig further to see clearly; kneeling pads – you can sit on these as well as kneel; work gloves for pulling weeds, vines and the like, and heavy rubber gloves for the fine work; a sturdy bag to haul stuff; drinking water; a camera for recording the stones and where they are in relationship to each other; newsprint and chalk or charcoal for doing rubbings – surprisingly, you can read a lot in a rubbing that is not clear to your eye on a stone. Crayons will work if you can’t find chalk or charcoal, however pencils wear out really fast. Choose a nice day so you can work in the sun, bring bug spray if it is bug season – or even if it isn’t – there were a few die-hard mosquitoes the day we went. We found the cemetery easily, and could see the outlines of the boundary – the (impressively strong) wire fencing was was down in many places and so rusted it blended in with the overgrowth of vines and grasses – we named it the Tripping Fence because that’s how we found most of it. Most of the stones were not standing anymore, so we kept probing the ground to find them.
According to the county information there were either 13 or 30 people interred there. Hoping for the lower number, we started unearthing the stones – first a layer of weeds and vines will grow over the fallen stones, filled in by dirt and more weeds and vines, making a nice tight mat-like overlay that looks like the rest of the ground – except no trees grow there, yet. Someone must have kept the cemetery clear of brush for a number of years, the trees in the surrounding woods looked like a 30-40 year growth. We worked carefully, trying not to scratch the stones – just getting them clear enough to read.
We found two matching head stones that looked like husband-wife. When we brushed the dirt away, we found our own great-great grandmother Polly, married to our proper great-great grandfather resting beside her! On a nearby stone, we found another Polly, with a different maiden name, married to someone else entirely. The source of the confusion “uncovered”, so to speak. Pictures were taken, maps drawn, dates and other information recorded, we gathered our paraphanalia and headed to our cars, parked on a nearby road.
For people who do geneaology, finding your own family history in lists on the internet or on paper is very exciting – but finding information engraved in stone is very, VERY exciting!