On the 23rd of May 1857, this association was organized under the general law of New York State, authorizing and regulating the incorporation of Rural Cemetery Associations. The minutes recite that its affairs are to be conducted by a board of nine trustees, to be divided into three classes of three each, in such a manner that the term of one class will expire each year when new trustees will be chosen by the owners of lots which shall contain one hundred square feet in said cemetery.
The first Board of Trustees was composed of Archibald Bamber, Charles N. Bass, Charles Wheelock, William F. Owens, John M. Lewis, Peter B. Post, Albert E. Jackson, William Stickney and Samuel T. Jones. The board then elected as its president, Archibald Bamber; vice president, Charles N. Bass; secretary and treasurer, J. Earl Hulbert. The sum of $2,190.00 was raised by subscription from parties desirous of owning lots in the new cemetery for the purchase of the property now in use and known as the Boonville Cemetery Association, and adjoining the property of the now beautiful Erwin Park.
It is interesting to note that of all of these subscribers, but two, after the lapse of these fifty years, are surviving. They are John M. McClusky and James Hyland, then of the firm of Hyland and Evans, who subscribed as a firm. The names of all of the subscribers are as follows: Archibald Bamber, Charles N. Bass, Philander B. Shultz, Albert E. Jackson, John N. Lewis, William Stickney, Job W. Fisk, Samuel T. Jones, Richard Hulbert, Charles Wheelock, Peter B. Post, Peter S. Baker, James Ward Sr., George W. Manchester, Caleb Goodrich, Samuel Johnson, Joseph R. Tharrett, Gilbert Brinkerhoff, William Higby, Silas E. Jackson, James Joslin, Samuel Batemen, Lemuel B. Joslin, Clark Riggs, Robert Bamber, A.B. Wheeler, John Owen, Peter Sippell, John Cross, Theodore Combs, Justus V. Kent, Clinton D. Stimson, Ephraim Owen, Joshua Lovell, John Jackson Sr., William S Jackson, James H. Diefendorf, Michael Diefendorf, James Wilson, Hiram Hadley M.D., Lewis W. Cook, Noah Pitcher, John Tinsley, Erastus C. Porter, Lewis Holdridge, Thomas Bagg, Isaac Gilbert, Henry Branstater, Frederick Kirchner Sr., Oliver W Child, William Cordell, James Boss Sr., W. Ray Tanner, William Wheelock, Joseph Cramer, John Taylor, Hyland Evans, George Jilson, Aaron G. Willard, Benjamin Stickney, Harvey P. Willard, Cornelius B. Erwin, Julius Rogers Sr., William F. Owens, Theodore Cross, Samuel W. Utley, John McClusky, Hiram Shaw, and Nathan Wheeler, sixty-nine in all.
One of the first steps taken was the erection of the grounds of a receiving tomb, a resolution adopted reciting that this should be built at a cost of not to exceed $250. The substantial stone fronted tomb, according to constructed, served the purposes of the association for nearly fifty years, as it was only last year that the enlarged present tomb on same site was completed at a cost of $2,815.27.
After the organization and purchase of the property now in use had been attended to, the records of the association show a resolution was adopted by the board of trustees that, Wednesday, September 8,1858 be fixed as a date for the formal opening of the grounds and the ceremonial of consecration. This was held at 1 o’clock pm on that date, the address being delivered by the Rev. H.C. Vogell of Rome, who, by the way, was the father of Mrs. Dr. Kingsley of Rome, NY. He also delivered the address at the consecration of the Rome cemetery. Mr. John McClusky tells me that he recalls the occasion clearly and that a song was rendered entitled “The City of the Dead” by Thomas Watson, Byron Praves, John McClusky, Helen Phileo, Marion Phileo and Libbie Graves, the first verse of which ran:
“On these lone hills we’ll found today a city for the dead
A resting place for mortal clay
Upon this dreamless bed.”
At a meeting held December 29, 1859, J.E. Hulbert, the first secretary and treasurer, tendered his resignation and a vote of thanks was adopted “For the gentlemanly and efficient manner which he has always manifested in the discharge of the duties imposed upon him during his official connection with the Board of Trustees and members of the Association.” William F. Owens was thereupon elected in his place as secretary and treasurer and continued as such until April 1896, the date of his death, a period of thirty-seven years. He was succeeded by H.R. Hadley, who served until August 1905, a period of nine years, when owing to ill health and inability to attend to the duties of the position, the present incumbent William D. Sippell, was elected to the position from the board of trustees of which he had been a member since June 1898.
The association has had but four presidents in its history of fifty years. Its first, Archibald Bamber, served until June 1893, a period of thirty-seven years and was succeeded by Joseph R. Tharrett, who served until his death in October 1896. Henry W. Bentley was then elected president and served a little over ten years, until January 1907, the date of his death, and was succeeded by J. P. Babcock, a trustee since June 1892.
Samuel T. Jones was the first superintendent and to his intelligent labor, more than any other officer, we are indebted for the present artistic arrangement of the grounds, its shrubbery, walks and drives. He filled this office in the most efficient manner until the date of his death, November 16, 1885, a period of twenty-one years of service, and was succeeded by Silas E. Jackson, who served until he died in 1889. His successor, Evan N. Owens, was elected December 3,1889 and has served most acceptably until his recent death, this month of May 1907.
In the month of October 1884, Mr. Cornelius B. Erwin of New Britain, Conn., sent the association the sum of $100.00 with a request that it be deposited with a Savings Bank or Trust Company on interest and that the interest be applied to keeping in proper order his lot in the cemetery. This was the first deposit of the kind entrusted to the care of the association and it thereupon voted to accept the trust and such others of the kind as might be made thereafter. A form of acceptance of such trusts was adopted which provides that these trust funds constitute separate and sacred funds and the income is expressly devoted and applied to the special object designated by the proprietor of the lots. An account is opened with each particular trust, the income thereof is credited and the actual expenditures for keeping the lot and improvements in order are lawfully noted and charged. Advantage of this has been taken by those interested and such separate accounts are now carried by the association in Savings Banks for the permanent care of lots as follows: C.B. Erwin, Minerva Parks, W.H. Graves, Cynthia Barnes, George N. Manchester, Lydia E. Evans, Fannie A. Peacock, Katie E. Spencer, Elizabeth Meredith, Henry Sasenbury, Sara L. Lewis, S. Albert Johnson, Mary C. Palmer, George W. Jackson, William F. Owens, J.R. Tharrett, Louisa Ehresman, George Sasenbury, W.H. Cole, S. Terry Hawkins, H.W. Bentley, William H. Watson, Charlotte L. Hunt, and Ida S. Myers, in all twenty-two accounts. The trust fund for these lots vary from $50 to $200 and the aggregate of such funds so held is now $1,895. Perpetual care-markers are placed upon all such lots. The practice of providing for permanent special care is commended to all lot owners.
In March 1885, the association received by bequest from Cornelius B. Erwin of New Britain, Conn., the sum of $2500. and was enabled therewith to construct the chapel and gate lodge building at the main entrance of the grounds, which adds much to the finished appearance and convenience of the property. The further sum of $10,000 was provided by the last will and testament of Cornelius B. Erwin as a fund, the interest of which was to be used for the care and improvement of the grounds. This fund is kept intact and the income used for this purpose.
The association has recently sustained a double loss in the death of its honored president, Henry W. Bentley and its esteemed superintendent, Evan W. Owens, who filled the position for the last eighteen years.
The present trustees are Elbridge G. Palmer, James W. Douglass M.D., James P. Pitcher, Eugene C. Dodge, Garry A. Willard, Eugene N. Hayes, Cornelius B. Erwin, Jesse P. Babcock and William D. Sippell. Its officers are: President, Jesse P. Babcock; vice- president, Elbridge G. Palmer; secretary and treasurer, William D. Sippell.
And so we turn the leaf for another fifty years record of the Boonville Cemetery Association.
William D. Sippell, Sec’y
May 23, 1907