Buffalo Cemeteries - Table of Contents

Excerpts from
"Buffalo Cemeteries"
Read before the Buffalo Historical Society, February 4, 1879
Published by Bigelow Brothers, 62 & 64 Pearl Street for the Society
By William Hodge


Franklin Square Cemetery
- now Old County Hall

This "Franklin Square" lot was a central portion of the then beautiful Terrace, on whose grassy surface the Indians used to recline, and view the lake in all its pristine beauty; a scene which Judge Peacock described when he first came on the spot (being then nineteen years of age), saying, "It is one of the most beautiful views I ever put my eyes upon."

In the new cemetery the first interment was that of John Cochrane, a traveler from Connecticut, who died at Barker's tavern, a log house facing south, standing on the Terrace near the corner and west of Main street. As a verbal consent had been given by Mr. Ellicott to use the lots, the man from "the land of steady habits," was there buried; and from that time most, if not all, burials ceased in the Washington street place. Tradition says that a very tall Indian, from his altitude termed the "Infant" was the second silent inhabitant of the village cemetery, and it soon become the recognized place for burials; though with the usual carelessness of early settlers, the title to it was not obtained from the Holland Land Company until 1821.

In addition to the villagers, those who resided even as far out as the "Plains" (with the exception of a few families who buried on their own premises), brought their dead to the general gathering place. This irregular proceeding was stopped as far the city authority extended in 1832, when the advent of the cholera caused very stringent sanitary measures to be taken.

The Cold Spring Burying Ground - southwest corner of Delaware Ave. and Ferry St. - now the site of Conners House / Gilda's Clubhouse, 1140 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo, NY

Long prior to that time, on the hill opposite "Cold Spring," on farm lot number 59, now the southwest corner of Delaware and Ferry streets, there was a graveyard like that of Captain Johnston. I well remember being present at burials there when a boy. One was that of a child of Mr. Seth Granger, who lived on the farm; another a child of Mr. Caskey. These took place before the war of 1812.

The War of 1812

Hither afterwards, gallant Job Hoysington's mutilated remains were brought, when the fervid suns of the spring after the burning of Buffalo melted the snowy shroud by which he was first covered.

The death of Hoysington occurred as follows: On the morning of December 30, 1813, he took his rifle and went to meet the British as they came marching up the river near the Grand Battery. He, with Capt. Hull's Buffalonians, stood their ground well; but the three thousand and odd of new levies fled precipitately and left a few hundred to face as many Indians, and over a thousand disciplined British regulars. For a brief period they contested the field; but, seeing they were flanked, they retreated. Hoysington lingered, withdrew a little, stopped, and said, "I will have one more shot at them," and that was the last that was known of him till the following spring, when his remains were found beside a log not far from the late Frederick Gridley's residence on north street, one of two blocks west of the Normal school building. A bullet had perforated, and a tomahawk had cleft, his skull; while his scalp was torn from his bleeding head as a trophy of savage conquest, and token of British inhumanity. His faithful rifle lay empty by his side, and no doubt his death was avenged ere it occurred.

His remains were interred in this rural cemetery, and there they remained till 1850, when most of the bones of the nearly one hundred persons buried there, were exhumed, placed in boxes, and removed to a secure place in "Forest Lawn." Among these relics, the skull of the mighty marksman was at once recognized by the injuries it had received, and many noticed it; but during the confusion incident to a removal, some one surreptitiously carried off this relic of Job Hoysington. It is doubtless in the possession of some curiosity monger of the city, but "who has it?" has often been asked in vain.

In the grading and widening of Ferry street, in 1876, at the corner we are speaking of, there were some bones, but no entire skeletons, plowed up. Having learned that there was no one appointed by the proper authorities of our city to look after these relics of early settlers and soldiers, who seem to have had none on the face of the earth to care for them, I took pains to collect from time to time all that were found, carried them to Forest Lawn, and had them buried with the others that had been taken there.

Delaware and North Street Burying Ground - southwest corner of Delaware and North streets, and east of Bowery street

In the grounds of the North Street Cemetery, now site of the Lenox Hotel
Source: Buffalo Historical Society. "The Picture Book of Earlier Buffalo," 1912
See also sketch

About the year 1830, Hon. Lewis F. Allen bought of Judge Ebenezer Walden on his own account, five acres situated on the southwest corner of Delaware and North streets, and east of Bowery street. A considerable number of lots were sold; but the smallness of the plot and the fact that the southern part was full of springs, prevented many improvements; and most of the bodies deposited there have been removed to Forest Lawn, and the property is now held by the Forest Lawn Association. It is not at all likely that any more burials will ever take place there, as they are prohibited by a law of the state, and the lots around are occupied by beautiful residences.

The Potter's Field - North and Best streets, and west of Prospect street - now the site of City Honors School

In 1832, in anticipation of the cholera visiting Buffalo, which had just put on "city airs," burials in the old village (Franklin Square) cemetery having been prohibited, except by special permission of the council, it was deemed desirable to obtain another and more remote situation to be ready in case any sudden pestilence should demand increased room for the dead. Accordingly I sold to the city five acres of farm lot No. 30, lying between North and Best streets, and west of Prospect street, for a "Potter's Field," or common burial place; and a portion of it was set apart for the Roman Catholics so that it could be consecrated according to their belief and from.

In addition to the villagers, those who resided even as far out as the "Plains," (with the exception of a few families who buried on their own premises), brought their dead to the general gathering place. This irregular proceeding was stopped as far as the city authority extended in 1832, when the advent of the cholera caused very stringent sanitary measures to be taken.

The Black Rock Burying Ground

When the lands comprising the South Village of Black Rock were surveyed in 1804 or 1805, there were two blocks, Nos. 41 and 42, appropriated by the state for burial purposes. These, however, were found to be too low, and hence not suitable; many, therefore carried their dead even to the "Franklin Square" ground; and when Black Rock village was incorporated, Col. William A. Bird, in behalf of the corporation, procured the exchange of those two lots for one situated on higher ground; being lot No. 88 on North street, since known as the Black Rock Burying Ground. This lot was bounded by Jersey, Pennsylvania and Fourteenth streets, and the mile strip or what is now "The Avenue."

When the "Guide Board Road" (now North street) was worked through, this lot was cut in twain, and a small triangle was left on the south side, in the old limits of Buffalo City. This small lot, by an arrangement with the Black Rock authorities, was used as Potter's field for the unfortunates who died at the Poor-house; this building being a little to the west of it, next to he church of the Holy Angels, and now used for the Parish School. in this little spot of ground have been doubtless laid without a pitying eye to weep over their wreck, or a friendly hand to raise a tablet to their memory as noble persons as have ever existed; but poverty and misfortune blighted their prospects, and they became dependents an the bounty of their fellow-creatures.

The Mathews and Wilcox Grounds

Another private cemetery enterprise was set on foot by General Sylvester Mathews and Birdseye Wilcox, about 1833 or 1834. They laid out twelve acre for the purpose, on farm lot No. 30, next the the five acres which the city had purchased in 1832 for the Potter's Field. This twelve acre field was improved, and lots sold to different individuals: and as the land was more desirable than that on the corner of Delaware and North streets, there was a considerable attention paid to decorations and monuments, until Forest Lawn was formally established.

See also: East North Street Cemetery

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