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July 2002


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Phil Lord <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
A LISTSERV list for discussions pertaining to New York State history." <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 19 Jul 2002 09:32:29 -0400
text/plain (58 lines)

We are both right, and I am certainly among the "anyone who has ever worked with deeds", having spent enough time in the early 19th century Rensselaer County deed books to get brown lung from the decaying leather covers.

I have seen cases where a "burying ground" is excepted from the deed for the adjacent property - as in one dramatic case I researched in Oneida County. But these are usually NOT the tiny rural plots we often see with a handful of headstones sticking up. the one you mention was a half acre, and the one I studied was probably twice that size. But the little 50x80 foot plots are often not considered as a "burying ground", which, in my expreience, contains upwards of sixty to a hundred graves.

Both these still fall beneath the threshold of the abandoned but once incorporated cemetery, for which the Towns share responsibility.


>>> [log in to unmask] 07/18/02 09:05AM >>>
I want to disagree with one thing Phil Lord said regarding private
cemeteries.  As anyone who has worked with deeds can tell, private
cemeteries/burying grounds generally are not included in the deeds when
properties are sold.  Indeed, it is one of the most effective ways of
finding these old burial sites.  The Albany County Grantor-Grantee Index
(1630-1892)is replete with examples such as "150 acres in Rensselaerville,
excepting 1/2 Acre containing the Smith Buring Place."
You might sell the old family homestead, but you didn't want to sell
grandfather's last resting place.

-----Original Message-----
From: Phil Lord [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Wednesday, July 17, 2002 4:28 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Cemetery Law

What can I do about old cemeteries that are being vandalized or neglected?
There are various categories of "cemeteries" in New York State. The ones
most often of concern are the small "burying ground", in which a number of
families used a common plot of ground, or the "family plot", which often
consisted of a few graves on a farm, usually belonging to one family.

Cemeteries that were once incorporated but are now abandoned revert to
management by the town government, and you should approach the town
regarding care and protection issues.

Cemeteries that were privately used, particularly the small plots one
frequently sees in rural areas, probably are part of the private lands
conveyed by deed when a property is sold. The owner may not, however,
disturb these in any way, including removal of the headstones (which still
belong to heirs of the deceased), excavation of the ground, etc.

For information contact: The Division of Cemeteries, NYS Department of
State. Tel. 518 474-6226. E-Mail: [log in to unmask] Internet:

>>> [log in to unmask] 07/17/02 10:12AM >>>
I'm looking for information about the New York State law that protects old
cemeteries.  Does it provide for the maintenance of a right-of-way to the
cemetery from a public highway?

Mary Jo Lanphear
Ontario County Archives