By Jim Andrews
“Show me the manner in which a community cares for its dead and I will measure with mathematical exactness the tender sympathies of its people, their respect for the laws of the land and their loyalties to high ideals.”
This quote from one-time prime minister of Great Britain, William E. Gladstone is inscribed on a piece of granite located on the interior of the Andes cemetery chapel at the far side of the pool. It sums up the feeling many of us have for our cemetery as well as for our community. We have an ever-growing cemetery and feel proud that the approximately 15 acres are maintained in the garden-like condition that you usually see it.
A survey map drawn by D. D. K. George, dated August 10, 1882, shows the Andes Cemetery at that time to contain 1 acre + 130 rods. This map shows “the Old Mill” and the “Mill Dam” to the right of the Tremperskill Road. This first cemetery included the land at the very top of the hill extending to approximately the grass road which divides the cemetery from top to bottom.
The next parcel of land acquired was purchased from Jennie E. Bramley on June 11, 1904. Mrs. Bramley owned the former Frank Dibble farm on Lower Main Street. Mrs. Bramley owned or had sold several lots near the original cemetery (how enterprising–she set up her own cemetery business!!) The purchase price was $475 with Mrs. Bramley retaining her own plot which is now designated in the cemetery records as lot # 1.
Another interesting note: the by-laws of the cemetery state “no person who died in prison or anyone who was executed for a crime could be buried without permission from the president of the cemetery.”
So–if any of you are planning on dying in prison–you better talk to me, Jim Andrews, since I’m the current president of the cemetery association.
Additional land was purchased above the present vault and the most recent purchase was from the Zagorski family in 1975–referred to as the “Dowie Land” since the Dowie family was the original owner.
The beautiful cut stone wall which surrounds most of the cemetery was a gift of Harry Dowie in 1905. The stone came from a quarry on the north of town near Glenn Cole’s. All the stone for this wall was drawn in by horses and the four piers at the cemetery entrance were constructed by hand using pulleys to raise the heavy stones. Two years ago the Cemetery Association held a fund raising drive to replace the Tremperskill Road side of this wall. Parts of the wall were collapsing onto the highway. With funds raised by this drive as well as a generous donation from cemetery board member Walter B. Gladstone, the wall was rebuilt using modern drainage methods to hopefully prevent the wall’s collapse.
Like most cemeteries, ours is a melting pot of families who immigrated here from European countries in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Names such as : George, Johnson, Taylor, Hilton, Dowie, Fowler, Seacord, Wight, Shafer, Biggar, Scott, Roney, Bryant, Reynolds, Bruce, Ballantine, Glendening, Bohlmann, Calhoun, Liddle, Campbell, Bleakie, Fletcher, Hunting, Gladstone, Monroe, and Hyzer among many others. Many have descendants still living here today while the others have faded into unrecorded history.
The cemetery contains many remains of people moved from the Shavertown, Union Grove, Arena, and Cannonsville cemeteries when they were inundated by the construction of the Pepacton and Cannonsville Reservoirs in the 1950s and 60s. One such re-interment is from Shavertown–John Simmonds 1825 – 1892 who was a Civil War volunteer in Company H of the 144th Regiment and who received the Congressional Medal of Honor.
One of Andes’ earliest residents was Jeremiah Webb who served in the Revolutionary War (1751-1833). He is buried in the oldest part of the cemetery. Other very early grave markers–all homemade–mark the final resting places of Joseph F. Webb who died on June 20, 1820 at 23 years old, William Sanderson on March 8, 1824 at 29 years, John Wells on August 30, 1826 at 45 years–his stone bears the inscription “Be ye also ready”, Ethel Plant on September 11, 1822 and Stephen Plant on November 23, 1822. It is interesting to note the stark difference between the gravestones of these early burials. Some are homemade while others appear to have been professionally carved. Four of the Webb family markers appear to have been carved by an itinerant gravestone carver from New England, a J. W. Stewart who has come to be known as “Coffin Man” since he often carved a little coffin at the bottom of the stone—the number of coffins carved representing the number of burials in the grave. Coffin Man had several apprentices identified as Eclectic Man, Comma Man, Open Urn Man, Fern Man and Sunburst Man, based on their style in carving the gravestones. Fern Man has actually been identified as Joseph Crandall who lived in Norwich during his carving career. Marianne Greenfield of Delhi has done many hours of research on Coffin Man and his apprentices and all the information about him comes from her. Many other local cemeteries also have Coffin Man stones. The oldest marked burial in the cemetery is that of a member of the Ackerly family. The field stone marker is hand inscribed simply “PA, December 6, 1797 – June 15, 1814”–only 17 years old. There are probably other unmarked burials which are older–their markers having long since disappeared, or perhaps were made of wood and rotted away.
A small, walled-in portion of the cemetery located at the top of the hill along the row of pines is not part of the Andes Cemetery Association. It is a private family cemetery owned by the Dowie family, although the association maintains its upkeep. Buried here, along with Harry Dowie, are his parents, Lucy Anderson Dowie who died on January 5, 1845 at 54 years of age and Henry Dowie who died on December 29, 1845 at the age of 77. They were early business people whose family built the Dowie Mill, the remains of which are at the base of Ballantine Park. The now almost illegible inscriptions on their marble monument give us some insight into the lives of these early settlers:
“Emigrated to America in 1811 and to this county in 1814, the founder of his name on this continent. He left his extensive family the rich legacy of an untarnished reputation and through the many vicissitudes of life to which he was subjected, he placed the firmest reliance on a superimenting providence. “He who feedeth the ravens will not permit us to perish” was his saying to the partner of his joys and his sorrows in their privations. Industry, Economy, Piety, and Probity (honesty) were prominent virtues in him. He lived and died emphatically the Honest Man”.
LUCY ANDERSON, WIFE OF HENRY DOWIE
“Born in the Isle of May, in the Firth of Forth, Scotland. Where in 1789, her parents and their entire family met an awful death from suffocation–she alone by a special providence was preserved and was found three days after the fatal event, alive and sucking on the corpse of her mother. God in his infinite mercy preserved her and in his goodness blessed her with a disposition in which every female virtue shone preeminently, a pattern of Piety, Patience, and affliction invaluable as a mother, beloved as a friend, and for the last 30 years of her life, as a member of the M. E. Church of which she was an ornament, she breathed her last in the full hope of a glorious Immortality January 5, 1845, aged 54 years, 10 mos, 20 days.”
The cemetery contains a potter’s field (which has since been done away with) and a soldier’s plot where destitute veterans could be buried. The first burial on this soldier’s plot (located adjacent to the present vault) were the remains of the Jonathan Earle family (including those of the famed Moses Earle of the Anti-Rent war) which were removed from a family cemetery on the Roney Farm down the Tremperskill. Jonathan was a Revolutionary War veteran. Unfortunately, none of the original gravestones were preserved, so the other remains in the grave are unknown.
The cemetery pool was constructed in 1938 with money from local contributors and was recently restored through a bequest from the estate of Elizabeth Woolheater. The water is fed to the pool from the stream that runs along Coulter Road and the flood of 2006 badly damaged the reservoir and water source. The 70 year-old plumbing has also failed so that the pool was empty this summer. This coming spring the cemetery board will be laying new pipe from that reservoir so that the pool will again contribute to the cemetery’s tranquility. Funds are short, so donations would be appreciated.
The chapel or vault with its beautiful stained glass windows was erected in 1957, again with money raised through local contributions.
The cemetery provides the final resting place for many notable personages in Andes’ past, many of whom helped shape the structure of the community and provided for its colorful history: Andes photographer Charles Carman (1832-1911); Francis Heimer (1828-1910), Andes’ most famous painter (at least locally); Hunting Tavern owner Ephriam Hunting (1803-1880) and his wife Sarah; businessman and banker Duncan Ballantine (1821-1889) and his wife Nancy Hunting Ballantine who were probably the most prominent residents in Andes during the period 1854-1890; Peter Bassett (1812-1895) who was the builder of the old Town Hall–originally called Bassett’s Hall in 1877; Peleg Hilton (Died in 1863), owner of Hilton’s Hotel which was the down renters’ headquarters for the town of Andes during the Anti-Rent wars; Pratt Chamberlain (1819-1884) owned the Central Hotel (Andes Hotel); John Bohlmann (1812-1892) built and lived in the library house and operated a tannery on the site of the village park; Rev. James Bruce (died in 1913) longtime pastor of the Presbyterian Church and publisher of the first Andes newspaper; his son, Matthew Linn Bruce, State Supreme Court Justice and onetime Lieutenant Governor of NYS; Silas D. Hilton (1809-1890), successful farmer and merchant who was a prominent leader in the Anti-Rent movement and commanded the “Indian Brigade” when the excitement culminated in 1845; Dr. Jay D. Frisbee, local dentist who was directly responsible for restoring this cemetery and envisioning the beautiful place the cemetery has become.
In the 1890s the cemetery had become a jungle of hay, brush and dead trees. It looked so bad that many people had their loved ones exhumed and reburied in the newly formed Andes Rural Cemetery on High Street. Doc. Frisbee spent countless hours and much money clearing the cemetery and recreating the lawns as they are today. He was responsible for putting in the pool and building the vault. He also was responsible for the design and setting of the Andes Central School. No one could envision a school such as that sitting in the middle of a swamp. Finally, and, perhaps representing the great majority of Andes folk resting in that cemetery, is Cyrus Glendening, a 16 year old Civil War volunteer from Andes who died of typhoid on March 24, 1863–never having seen battle. Longtime community member and ACS teacher Sylvia Glendening (now resting not far from Cyrus) always placed flowers on his grave because she felt so bad that his young life had been cut short and felt that he should be remembered.
A walk through the cemetery is interesting, with many beautiful monuments to mark the final resting places of the people who, in generations past, worked to make our community what it is today. Former Cemetery Board Member and superintendent J. Edsall “Pete” Hanlon (1892-1972) had the following as letterhead on the cemetery’s stationery, “The Andes Cemetery, one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the East.” He was right! ~