By Ann Bramley Laing
Delaware County history buffs often associate the name Bramley with the Town of Bovina. Who doesn’t know Bramley Mountain and its once popular fire tower? The Bovina Cemetery has numerous graves bearing the name, a name that has been written in census records and other data in a variety of ways, including Bramblet, Bromley, Brambly, and Bramble. The Bramley version has been used since the early 1850s by the Delaware County Bramleys.
However, it should not be forgotten that many Bramleys lie buried in the Andes Cemetery. In fact, lot#1 bears the name of Sylvanus W. Bramley, 1811-1865, whose widow, Mary Ann McCune, donated part of their farmland to expand the original small cemetery. Sylvanus and Mary Ann, and their only child Elizabeth Jane, known as Jennie, moved to their new farm on the outskirts of the village sometime between 1855 and 1860 from the Town of Bovina where Sylvanus, the first son of Henry and Elizabeth Wright Bramley, had been born. His father, Henry, a native of Bovina, had purchased his first farm in Andes sometime before 1809 only to be hit by the “Go west, young man!” bug, and moved his small family to Ohio around 1812. He returned to Delaware County around 1818, with his family of four children, to purchase a farm in Bovina. What a great adventure for Sylvanus to travel such a distance at the tender age of not quite 7, not so great for his Mom, who was pregnant with her fifth child. Sylvanus’s grave lies near that of his parents, his unmarried older sister, Mary Ann, and his brother, Stephen.
The story of the occupant of lot#1 is not complete unless mention is made of his grandfather, William Bramblee. Born in Reading, England in 1747, William came to the colonies at the age of 17. He settled in the Albany area, where he married and pursued the life of a carpenter and farmer. In 1777 he joined the Third Regiment of the Albany County Militia, in a company of carpenters. Although he was primarily responsible for making flat-bottomed boats, barracks, cannon platforms, and mending and making batteries, his unit was called to fight the Tories at the Battle of Bemis Heights, near Saratoga. He was wounded and returned home after about nine months of service. He again enlisted in March of 1778 as a Lieutenant, and with a group of recruits went down the Hudson to West Point. He engaged in transporting cannons, and scouting. While recovering some livestock that had been stolen, he received a leg wound from the blade of a cutlass yielded by a British light horseman. Thus ended his military career. He received a $50 gift from Gen. George Washington for his services, but no other pay. He applied three times for his pension, which he finally received in 1834, in the amount of $110 per year.
By the late 1700s, William and his family had moved to the Town of Delhi, now Town of Bovina, where he owned about four hundred acres of land, later known as Bramley Mountain. He died in 1839 in the Town of Andes, presumably at the home of his son, James, who had a farm that lies in both the Towns of Bovina and Andes, on Biggar Hollow Road.
Unfortunately, no record of William or his wife Gertrude’s interment has been discovered, and so began another chapter. Two of William’s descendants, John R. Bramley of Delhi and Ann Bramley Laing of Rochester, both of whom have roots in Andes (Ann was born in Shavertown and John has always lived in the Andes-Delhi area) decided that William deserved to be honored for his service to his country. They began a year-long mission to place a memorial marker for William in the Andes Cemetery. On October 12, 2009 their project was completed with a memorial service and unveiling of the marker honoring William as a Revolutionary War Soldier. The service was attended by several area relatives, including a great, great, great granddaughter named Sylva, as well as by dignitaries from the Oneonta Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Binghamton chapter of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.
The next time you visit the Andes Cemetery, please take time to search out the early graves at the top of the hill overlooking the Tremperskill road. The names found there are a record of these hardy folks who cleared and farmed the land, and often gave up their private lives to serve this country. Perhaps you will find “Old William’s” ghost hovering over his new marker with a smile.~