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Town Of Lee, Oneida County, New York Cemeteries

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Delta Cemetery

This cemetery is located at the end of Driftwood Drive in the town of Western, on the northwest side of Delta Lake, overlooking what was the village of Delta. The graves in this cemetery were moved here about 1910 when the State of New York built the Delta Dam. There were five known cemeteries in and around the village of Delta prior to the flooding of the land for the reservoir. None of the cemeteries were incorporated and all had been neglected for many years. All except one were family plots containing from one to a dozen graves, mostly old and unmarked. One was on the Moses T. White farm along the old Stokes Westernville Road, the second was on the Wager property just west of Westernville, the third was in the vicinity of what is now the Delta Lake State Park, and the fourth was on the old Stokes Westernville Road south of Kettle Hill. The Wager plot was said to contain the remains of several slaves brought to the area by General Floyd. The one graveyard that was more than a family plot was the Rudd Cemetery.

The cemetery is not maintained at all and is overgrown with weeds and brush. Even though over 600 graves are here, there are very few tombstones present. Due to the condition of the grounds the few tombstones that are there are not visible. Most of the graves moved here from Delta had no means of identification at the time they were relocated.

The following newspaper articles pertain to the Delta Cemetery:

Rome Sentinel
July 6, 1910

Five old neglected cemeteries are within the five square miles of territory that will be occupied by the Delta Reservoir of the barge canal. in accordance with a legal notice published in the Sentinel, persons entitled to direct as to the disposition of the remains in these burial places are allowed 60 days from July 26 in which to remove the remains to other places of interment. In all cases where removals are not made within the allotted time the state superintendent of public works will advertise for bids for the removal of all human remains found in said burial places or graves and for their transportation to and reinterment in such other lands as may be acquired by the state for such purpose. In this matter the state is proceeding under a law passed at the last regular session of the Legislature relative to the necessary removal of burial places on lands acquired or to be acquired for canal purposes.

None of these five cemeteries has ever been incorporated and as far as known no regular record of burials is in existance. All except one are family plots containing from one to a dozen graves, generally very old, unmarked and of no interest to recent owners of the farms on which they are situated nor to any one in the community as far as can be ascertained. These four almost forgotten resting places of the dead are, respectively, on farm lands appropriated or to be approriated from George V. Evans, Mary A. White, Charlotte S. Wager, and others, and Mrs. Angeline Hicks. Tradition says that the burial plot on the Wager property contains the graves of several slaves. There were many slaves in the town of Western in the early history of the town. General Wiliam Floyd brought a considerable number with him from Long island in 1803.

The one graveyard among the five that is more than a family plot is what is known as the Rudd Cemetery. Although it is on private land like the others, and like them is not incorporated or controlled by an association, it is of importance because of the large number of graves which it contains. This burial ground, covering about one-half acre, is on the farm of the Prosper E. Rudd estate, and lies along the highway 1,000 feet east of the center of Delta village.

Prosper Rudd of the third generation back from the present owners first used this site for a family burial plot. As there was no public cemetery near at hand, other people in the neighborhood were permitted to bury their dead there until in the course of time the plot became the village burying ground. When the Delta feeder was constructed the backwater overflowed the lower portion of the knoll on which the graves were located and rendered the site objectionable. This circumstance, and the fact that an incorporated cemetery had been established about three miles west (Evergreen Cemetery) caused the gradual abandonment of the "city of the dead" which has long been uncared for. Many gravestones have fallen and many others are badly weather-beaten.

The oldest date to be found on a stone in the Rudd Cemetery is 1805. Only three markers are dated later than 1865, and it is understood that the last interment was made in 1887. There are 132 marked graves of which 84 have legible inscriptions, while 48 are without means of identification. Thirty unmarked mounds, presumably graves, are to be seen. No official record of interments is in existence, but Clarence D. Smith of Delta, a great grandson of the first Prosper Rudd, has kept some track of the matter and he says that there are more graves than are in evidence. He estimates that in addition to 200 bodies that have been removed, the remains of 600 persons are still buried there.

Several soldiers of the Revolution and of the War of 1812 found their last resting place in this ancient cemetery. Fort Stanwix Chapter, DAR, of Rome, has interested itself in an effort to have the graves of these patriots identified so that their new graves can be marked after removal.

The sites of all the old burying grounds will be inundated as a result of the construction of the big barge canal dam and reservoir except that the spot which is now a little cemetery on the Hicks farm will be on an island on the east side of the reservoir.

Rome Sentinel
May 28, 1912

Elmer Hill, May 28 - When our ancestors left their congenial New England firesides to open and settle a new country at that time considered far west and almost beyond civilzation, they suffered hardships and privations common to every new settlement. The grim messenger of death is liable to visit a newly settled country before the people have become sufficiently organized to be fuly prepared in the way of cemeteries, etc. Thus you will find all along the Mohawk Valley dotted here and there on the oldest settled homesteads a few gravestones, which now often cause more or less trouble or become entirely neglected and are allowed to become obliterated altogether.

In 1800 Prosper Rudd, his wife, Eliza (Lord) Rudd, her mother, Lucy Lord, her brother, Andrew Lord, together with their children, Jabez F., Benjamin and Wyllis L. Rudd, emigrated from Norwich, Conn., to the Mohawk Valley, settling at Delta. They came by way of Cherry Valley with ox carts and a good assortment of household goods for the age in which they were living. The reason they came by Cherry Valley was that the good road system had not yet been introduced in New York State and the stories about the depth of mud from Albany to Fort Schuyler (Utica) had evidently become so exaggerated that they were afraid of getting mired unless they found a different path. It was in the month of March. A little later in the season their only daughter, Lurene, came up from Norwich on horseback, accompanied by a young lady friend, Cleore Fitch, whose parents had settled in New Hartford.

Prosper Rudd purchased 500 acres of land in the bend of the river and included the saw mill built in 1791 by David Smith, and the water privilege on the Mohawk River at Delta. He built his house, which was remodeled a few years ago by his grandson, Prosper E. Rudd, and which has been purchased by Mail Carrier John S. Williams, who has re-erected it on Turin Street, Rome, and is occupied by Supt. William Melvin of the Arthur McMullen contract on Delta Dam.

Prosper Rudd was a man of education, integrity and some wealth. neighbors in trouble or adversity sought his counsel or were helped from his storehouse. Finally death came and Mr. Rudd selected a dry, sandy knoll just west of his house to bury his family, and when his neighbors sought permission to bury there also, they were not refused. No price was asked, no tax was levied. As the years grew into decades the burial plot took on proportions of a goodly sized cemetery. The old settlers, one by one, were laid to rest, as they had lived, side by side. One by one those who had fought at Lexington and Bennington and witnessed the surrender of Burgoyne at Saratoga, passed beyond and they were buried in the Rudd lot. Very soon veterans of another war commenced to answer the last bugle call and they, too, were buried beside their fathers who fought before them.

Then came an era of public improvement and development. "Clinton's ditch" had become a realization and a success. Lateral branches were proposed and built. The Black River Canal was built from Delta east to carry water from the Mohawk River to the canal. This was built along the south side of the burying ground with only a highway between. Earth was excavated on the west side for the bank and the hole filled with water. This made the place undesireable for further burials, although some were made there for years afterward. The last burials there was that of Mrs. Collin Seymour in 1887. There had been about 800 burials before they ceased.

After the Evergreen Cemetery was established in 1864 many bodies were removed to that cemetery and a gradual removal has been going on for the past 45 years, but at the time of submitting bids for the removal of the entire remaining bodies it was ascertained by actual count that there were between 500 and 600 graves still there.

There was no association, no organization, and it has been quite a conundrum to the state officials how to proceed satisfactorily to all parties concerned, but the contractors, Kalk & Brown, have removed 635 bodies from the Rudd Cemetery to the new cemetery on the pretty elevation on the Daniels farm on the north side of the lake.

Among the revolutionary soldiers buried here are Robert Fenton, who, with his five sons, also served in the War of 1812, Daniel Felton, John Williams, Israel starks, Israel Stevens, Hope Smith and probably others.

Of the 1812 soldiers were Jonathan Bettis, Collins Seymour, Zadok K. Stevens, Jabez F. Rudd, Nehemiah Muscott and probably others.

These patriots, good and true, have never had a flag nor flower placed upon their graves on Decoration day. The new cemetery is being placed in order and when completed will be as fine a cemetery as there is in central New York.

If not convenient for any committee or organization to visit this ground to decorate the soldiers graves, let flags be sent to me and I will see that they are properly located.

Clarence D. Smith

Delta Cemetery Transcription

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This page created February 1, 2000
last updated April 30, 2008
Kathleen L. Last and Virginia Ackerman
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