Monday, January 27, 2014


Today was not a great day for Find-A-Grave-ing. It was cloudy, making it difficult to read the gravestones. The last two times I went to the cemetery I was able to find between 60-70 gravestones that weren't on Find A Grave. This time, I only found about five. It's getting harder to identify stones that I haven't documented before. There are at least 30 stones in the Eaderley/Miller transcription of 1909 that I haven't been able to find. Where are they?

Well, here's one. I think I've finally been able to identify it. First, I identified all of the Isaacs in the 1909 transcription. By the process of elimination, I was able to determine that this Isaac must be Isaac W. Stokem, the son of Alexander and Mary A. Stokem, who died December 7, 1861 at the age of six years. It's possible that this stone also commemorated Isaac's sister Matilda Ann, who died on December 15, 1861 at the age of 2.

I have also been able to identify this gravestone as that of Derinda Yerks, daughter of Anthony and Louisa Yerks, who died February 25, 1856 at the age of 5.

I have not had the same luck with this stone. I am guessing it is Lucy or Lucinda or Lucretia, wife of Samuel. But there is no inscription of that kind in the Eaderley/Miller transcription. Then I thought maybe the "LUC" was part of the last name - but that didn't get me anywhere either.

I would really like to know whether the 30-or-so gravestones that are "missing" are present but illegible, present but smashed into smithereens, or buried - or whether they were moved from the site altogether, like that of Charles Thorn. I am searching nearby cemeteries on Find A Grave to see if I can locate anyone that way.

A couple of gravestones have toppled over onto their faces and might be legible if they were upright. Ultimately, however, I'll have to accept that I won't be able to locate every stone. Some are, no doubt, irretrievably lost. But some may be buried right below our feet!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Croton Valley Friends Meeting

The Croton Valley Friends Meeting was established in 1804 as a preparative meeting of the Chappaqua Monthly Meeting. You may know the Society of Friends by the more well-known name of Quakers. "Quakers" was originally a word used to describe Friends by outsiders (referring to the way that Friends were said to "quake" with the spirit of God during their meetings) but is used by many Friends to refer to themselves today.

In 1827, the Society of Friends experienced a schism - the "Great Separation" - that split the Croton Valley Meeting into Orthodox and Hicksite groups. The present Croton Valley Meeting developed out of the Orthodox group, becoming its own Monthly Meeting in 1954.

You are looking at the third Croton Valley meetinghouse, built in 1902. The first and second were sold to make way for the Croton Dam. Although the first meetinghouse was completely inundated by the dam, I learned that the second, built in the 1850s, was located on the edge of the water, so that you can still see the foundations if you go down into the woods to look for them.

These last two pictures show some of the landscape along Meetinghouse Road, in between the home of the Haines family and that of Helena Rutherfurd Meade. It's probably one of the most beautiful places in the area.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

St. Matthew's Church, Bedford

The story behind St. Matthew's Church goes all the way back to 1796, when the St. George's parish became part of the "Protestant Episcopal Church in the United Towns of Bedford and New Castle." St. George's, as you may recall, was built in 1761, but prior to the Revolution was a part of the Church of England (Anglican). In 1796, St. George's was the only Episcopal church in the "United Towns" - however, years of neglect and occupation during the war had left it virtually unusable. 

St. Matthew's Church pictured in Bolton's History
In the early years of the 19th century, the vestry of St. George's sued to reclaim a legacy left to the church by St. George Talbot, the original benefactor. Upon winning the suit, the vestry decided to direct the funds toward a new church rather than repairing St. George's, which they believed was not salvageable. Before the settlement was paid, John Jay advanced a sum of $2,500 to purchase land in Bedford for the new church. Construction of St. Matthew's commenced in 1807 and finished in 1809. The church was consecrated on October 17, 1810. The adjoining cemetery was established in 1812.

In the Rev. Robert Bolton's 1855 book History of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the County of Westchester, St. Mark's and St. Matthew's Churches look quite similar, with the same basic layout and castellated tower. However, while St. Mark's Church was made of wood (like its predecessor St. George's), St. Matthew's was made of brick - hence its early name, "The Brick Church."

In later years, the tower of St. Matthew's - like that of St. Mark's - was refashioned into a steeple. Several additions were put on St. Matthew's over the years. A mission church of St. Matthew's, St. Mary's, was built in 1851 on the border between Bedford and Armonk. The rectory was built in 1811; the nearby "Chapel in the Woods" (an outdoor chapel) was built in 1939; the present parish house was built in 1946; and a children's chapel (pictured below) was built in 2013. A sweet little building with its own bell, the children's chapel is 34' x 20', even smaller than the 18th-century St. George's Church (which was 30' x 40').

I couldn't believe that this chapel had been built in 2013. It fits so naturally into its surroundings, and is so traditional in its design, that I probably would have guessed it was from the 19th century. I believe that is an outdoor baptismal font on the left in this photo.

Here you can see part of the addition that was put onto the church. They did a wonderful job matching the brick colors and construction. And I loved the little pile of firewood.

Above, you can see the St. Matthew's cemetery. Believe it or not, I have never been here! It's just a few yards away from where I went to middle school, but at that time I was preoccupied with St. George's/St. Mark's cemetery (and I guess I still am). Someday when it's a little warmer I'll have to walk through and try to identify relatives of the people buried at St. George's/St. Mark's (there are plenty).

There are some really beautiful stone walls in Bedford, and they ones around the church are very well maintained. The building on the right in the photo above is the rectory, and the building on the left is the parish house, where we saw a lovely art show. There is a huge fireplace in the parish house that I didn't want to leave. Behind St. Matthew's (not pictured) there are fifty acres of woodland owned by the church.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Old Cox Burying Ground, Armonk

The monument in the Old Cox Burying Ground reads: "Original site of North Castle Methodist Church / Erected 1787 / A house of worship until 1872 / One of the earliest Methodist Societies in America / Francis Asbury / Freeborn Garrettson / and other famous itinerants preached here / 1962."

You may recall that the plot of land directly south of St. George's/St. Mark's Cemetery was once the site of a Methodist church. That was the New Castle Methodist Church, established in 1824. One of the founders of the New Castle Church was Caleb Kirby, an officer of the North Castle Church for whom Kirbyville and Kirby Pond were named; he is buried in the Old Cox Burying Ground, along with his wife. James Smith Hall, another founder of the New Castle Methodist Church, is buried in the  Methodist section of the St. George's/St. Mark's Cemetery. The Methodist section was also known as the Hall Cemetery after James Smith Hall's family.

By 1843, the New Castle congregation had outgrown its tiny church, so a new one was built on a plot of land to the south of the old, and the old church converted into a parsonage. The present Methodist church was built in 1868 down the road from the St. George's/St. Mark's Cemetery. The original 1824 church/parsonage was still standing in 1929 when Herbert B. Howe arranged for the erection of the marker in front of the St. George's/St. Mark's Cemetery, but has since been demolished.

Today the Old Cox Burying Ground is like the St. George's/St. Mark's Cemetery - a churchyard without a church. It has its own Find A Grave page. Laurie and I counted four sandstone gravemarkers, including the two below, which belong to Gilbert and Elizabeth Thorn. Their relationship to Stephen Thorn is unknown (by me, anyway).

Laurie pointed this stone out as unusual. I thought it resembled a stone that I had seen in the Old Sturbridge Village Cemetery - but the resemblance is less obvious now that I've actually looked at that stone. What I think I noticed in both stones was the rather bold, graphic design of the decoration around the name. I always think of the design as a "cartouche" in my head although I don't think that term is used for historical American gravestones!

The light on the stone below was really lovely. If I was going to be buried in one of these old cemeteries, I would definitely like to be near the wall. There's nothing like a rambling old stone wall. If you like old stone walls as much as I do you might like the book Sermons in Stone by Susan Allport. It's one of my favorites.

I'll end with a fun fact about Caleb Kirby. On the lawn of his house, just down the road from the St. George's/St. Mark's Cemetery, there was a large boulder where it was said that George Washington once ate his lunch while his troops were marching through North Castle. The house is gone, but the boulder is still there, and known as Washington's Rock.

St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, Armonk

Today Laurie and I visited St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Armonk. It was established in 1842 - twenty years after St. George's had been taken down and nearly a decade before St. Mary's and St. Mark's would be built. The only other Episcopal church in the area was St. Matthew's in Bedford, a significant distance for people reliant on the horse and carriage. The first two rectors of St. Stephen's - the Rev. William Harris (its founder) and the Rev. Isaac Vermilye - also served as rectors of St. Matthew's and St. Mark's.
St. Stephen's Church ca. 1855

From 1867 to 1880, the Rev. C. Winter Bolton served as rector of St. Stephen's. His brother, the Rev. Robert Bolton, wrote The History of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the County of Westchester (an illustration of St. Stephen's from that book is pictured on the right). From 1895 to 1899, a poor economic situation forced St. Stephen's to close. Following its reopening in 1900, St. Stephen's struggled for many years before the vestry decided to turn over the church to St. Mark's. The revitalization of St. Stephen's in the 1920s was begun by the Rev. H. Adye Prichard, rector of St. Mark's, and continued by Prichard's assistant, the Rev. Harold B. Thelin, whom Prichard appointed to St. Stephen's in 1938. The church held a year-long celebration of its centennial in 1942.

As you can see from the image above, St. Stephen's is quite similar in appearance to the other Episcopal churches I have featured on this blog. In the years since it was built it has had several extensions put on. The cemetery has a more Victorian feel than the St. George's/St. Mark's Cemetery, with several interesting statues in addition to the standard obelisks and urn and willows.

Laurie pointed out that this "urn and willow" is actually an urn and obelisk. It seems strangely meta to have an illustration of a grave marker on a grave marker. The marker belongs to Lidia Jane, wife of Jonathan Cunningham, who died on October 29, 1851, at the age of 18. The images of this stone on Find A Grave were photographed under really optimal lighting conditions and really show the design well.

I don't know what the statue in this monument is made of, but the base is certainly zinc. As you might expect, it is the grave marker of a child: J. Warren Hopkins, who died in 1879 at the age of nine.

Laurie really liked this little detail on the marker.

Here's another statue, this one of an angel.

I found this monument to be very interesting. The base reads: "To the glory of God and in honor of our parents, 1975." The top is a Celtic-style cross with a Christogram. It's set off from the rest of the cemetery in a little enclosure.

We saw a few Flewellins in this cemetery, along with a few people with the surname See. The latter is interesting because there is a George A. See buried in the St. George's/St. Mark's Cemetery, but no other people of that name. According to this website, See is an English and German name that comes from the word for "sea" - given to those who lived near a body of water.

The historical information on St. Stephen's Church comes from North Castle History Volume 19 (1992), published by the North Castle Historical Society.

Miss Flewellyn

Laurie sent me these images in light of yesterday's post. The one above is from the village's centennial booklet, published in 1975, and shows Miss Flewellyn with her students. The one below is from the sesquicentennial booklet published in 2000 and shows Miss Flewellyn's house (now the Flewellyn Park).

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Flewellyn Park

Today I took a walk through the snow in Flewellyn Park. Some of you may not know where the park got its name. Formerly the site of a stately Victorian house, the park was owned by Laura Flewellyn, a well-known and beloved schoolteacher. In St. Mark's Church: A History, Helena Rutherfurd Meade writes the following of Miss Flewellyn:

"Miss Laura Flewellyn was one of the finest teachers in the local school. Her family was Welsh. Four Flewellyn brothers, who were millers, came with their trade and settled near Kirby Pond. There they had their mill and ground the grain of the local landowners. Ultimately that Flewellyn land became Leonard property and is now, of course, Leonard Park. The pond must have been large, for it covered all the flat lands where the tennis courts, etc., are now. Later, the Flewellyns moved to Crow Hill Road, and continued to live there for many years. Crow Hill Road is one of the oldest roads in the area. Revolutionary earth works may still be seen, many of them on the property belonging to Mr. Percy J. Ebbott.

"Miss Flewellyn's grandmother was a Purdy of Purdy's Station, as it was called. She was brought up in the beautiful Purdy house with its great center chimney, truly a house of distinction.

"Miss Purdy married a Flewellyn, had a large family, and named her first son Eisenhart Ezekiel Purdy Flewellyn. So, up on Crow Hill, Miss Flewellyn lived and from there she was confirmed at the age of 13, she thinks by Bishop Henry Godman Potter. To her young eyes, Saint Mark's was a lovely Church with 'our motto' over the Chancel arch. However, on most of her Sundays she could walk to a chapel of Saint Mark's at Kitchawan, called The Chapel of the Good Shepherd ...

"Miss Laura's amusement as a young child was to jump in and out of the Revolutionary entrenchments near the family house. In later years she would walk to the village to watch the baseball games because she wished to see her rector, the Rev. Egisto Chauncey, play. He was, she said, a great athlete and a delightful person ... "

Born in 1882, Miss Flewellyn never married or had children, but worked at the local public school for 62 years. Village historian Oliver Knapp was in her fifth grade class of 1918. When she died at the age of 89, Miss Flewellyn left her property to the village with the stipulation that it must be maintained as a public park. The village, which wanted to turn the property into a parking lot, fought vigorously with the terms of her will. Miss Flewellyn had designated three other potential heirs should the village choose not to accept the property, but stipulated that the heirs could only sell it back to the village for a sum of $800,000. That was more than the village was willing to pay, and so the property became a park.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Snow in the Olden Days

At the historical society this morning, Laurie began a search for old photos in the town in the snow for comparison with today's nor'easter. However, that search was curtailed by the early dismissal of the schools. I happened to have these not very clear, but still interesting newspaper photos of the storms of 1902 (above) and 1888 (below). They appeared in a local newspaper in 1954 and were clipped by my great-grandmother for her scrapbook.

Monday, January 20, 2014

St. Mark's Church: A History

Front Cover
One of the first sources we consulted on the history of the St. George's/St. Mark's Cemetery was St. Mark's Church: A History by Helena Rutherfurd Meade. This lovely little book is excellently written and researched and is beautifully illustrated by B. Shirley Carter. It contains an introduction by the Rev. Phil Porter Jr., the rector of St. Mark's at that time. In her acknowledgments, Mrs. Meade writes:

"Without Mr. Herbert Barber Howe's scrapbooks (in the possession of his son, Mr. David F. R. Howe) and his notes and articles on Saint George's Church, the early days of Saint Mark's Church and on Canon Prichard, the history would have been poor indeed." As you may know from this blog, at least one of the Rev. Howe's scrapbooks made it into to the historical society's collection, where I recently accessed it and transcribed it (read the full story here).

She also mentions "Mrs. Daniel Forgea" who "turned over to me her superb scrapbooks of [the town], from which, and from her memories, I learned much." Mrs. Forgea, known to my mother as Aunt Glynette, was the best friend and neighbor of my great-grandmother Ruth. This is a photo of the Forgeas (on the left) with my great-grandparents (on the right) in 1924.

Below, I have copied some select passages from the book that were of interest to me - for various reasons - and may be of interest to others.

Inside Cover
On the building of Old St. Mark's:
"Prior to the building of the new Church, it was necessary to obtain permission to build from the Vestry of Saint Matthew's Church, Bedford who were the successors of the original incorporation (i.e. Saint George's). This was granted in 1852, so Saint Mark's was built on the spot, but slightly behind where once stood Saint George's of Revolutionary background" (16).
On St. George's and St. Mark's:
"Neither church was large, although, at some later date, a steeple with a belfry was added to Saint Mark's but when, has not been established. Also, at some time later, a lych gate was added to the grounds at the opening of the stone wall where the walk to the church began. ('Lych' is old English, and means corpse.) This one seems to have been American Rustic in style, not English Gothic. In England at the entrance to most early churchyards, the lych gates were used to rest the coffins and the bearers before the final march into the church" (16). 
On the frustrations caused by vestry minutes:
"Vestry minutes can be as innocent, as cryptic and as secretive as are, often, the minutes of corporations, and the more there seems to have happened, the less appears in the minutes. Only by close study of many years, and, even then, only by having the genius of a ferret, is it possible to learn what actually happened" (17-18).

"Minutes are very scarce and very sketchy documents in the early days of Saint Mark's. Only a few scattered ones are in the Parish scrapbook. This scrapbook is a catch-all of all sorts of valuable and/or curious papers that actually go back to the Articles of Incorporation of 1850. There are letters of resignation of Rectors, and others as well, and it is fortunate there is even the little that there is" (20).
 On disagreements surrounding the building of New St. Mark's in the 1910s:
"But, alas, a few, not too many, but a very nice few could not fall in with the Rector's and the architect's and ultimately the Vestry's choice, so they resigned from the Church and went to Saint Matthew's in Bedford. Isn't it the same old story? People must have their own way, and how often it happens in a Church! Those who go may not realize how hurt are those who remain, and, of course, how it hurts God's body! Never leave your Church because you disagree with a decision that has been fairly made. We are all members of one another. Ephesians 4:25" (39).
On the donation of Old St. Mark's to the St. Francis A.M.E. Zion Church (notice that Mrs. Meade could only say how the vestry voted - not what actually happened!): 
Illustration of New St. Mark's
"In 1915 came the death knell of the old Church in the burying ground at New Castle Corners. The vestry voted to wreck the building; then they voted to give the timbers to The African Methodist Zion Congregation for building a church and to pay for their moving" (52).
On the contents of Old St. Mark's that were transferred to the chapel of New St. Mark's:
"Here it might be well to mention the gifts in the Chapel. These were all originally in the Church at New Castle Corners and were given either by the Cowdins or their kin and are in memory of members of the Cowdin family. These include the Altar, two Tiffany glass mosaics once the Reredos in the old Church, now on either side of the Chapel, the three windows, all, it would seem, Tiffany windows and the memorial tablets. The Altar rail was given by Mrs. Henry Marquand for the first Saint Mark's and moved from there" (63). 
On the Rev. Prichard's influence on Herbert B. Howe (he did convert him, after all!):
"Mr. Prichard's influence on Mr. Howe brought him into the Episcopal Church. Their letters show great warmth and love and understanding between them. In 1944 he became a lay reader and during the Canon's illness he conducted a large number of the services at Katonah. This relieved some of the heavy pressure on the Clergy. The lights over the lectern in Saint Mark's, where he read the lessons so often, were installed in his memory by his son" (76-77).
And lastly, on the cemetery and Mrs. Brundage (I wonder who was privileged with the task of breaking this to her):
"In 1898 it was voted that Mrs. Brundage be asked not to use the cemetery any longer as a thoroughfare" (28).
Mrs. Meade's signature: "How far this little candle throws its beam"
Mrs. Meade was quite an interesting person herself. I did a bit of research on her for the exhibition, as her book is featured in it. Born Helena Rutherfurd Ely in Vernon, New Jersey, she married Richard Worsam Meade IV, a veteran of the Spanish-American War and transportation entrepreneur, in 1905. They joined St. Mark's in 1913.

Mrs. Meade's mother, also named Helena Rutherfurd, was a founding member of the Garden Club of America and the best-selling author of A Woman's Handy Garden (1903).

Mrs. Meade's other books included The Story of the Bedford Garden Club (1955) and A Garden and a Book (1951), a memoir about her mother's career.