Out-of-view church cemetery needs attention
DUNDEE--Even though the Dundee Presbyterian Church cemetery is physically located in the middle of Dundee, you may not even know it's there.
That's because the private cemetery is situated about one-quarter of a mile off Main Street via a dirt pathway about halfway in-between Bigelow and Saunders Streets in the village.
The path (off the east side of Main Street) leads up to a slightly-elevated field that has served as the private church cemetery since the 1800s.
Records indicate two soldiers from the War of 1812, 12 Civil War veterans and two Revolutionary War infantrymen are buried there along with private citizens at the hillside location. Exact numbers vary, but some records indicate as many as 200 people may be buried there.
The cemetery is owned by the Dundee Presbyterian Church. Church Rev. Ellen Donnan said their church is dissolving at the end of December and their building is currently up for sale. Donnan said, "The cemetery was last used by the church in 1990. Prior to that, we had a custodian that was able to maintain the cemetery and the cemetery records." Donnan added, "I have been the pastor for the last five years, and during that time, no one has maintained the cemetery nor has the cemetery been used."
Over the years, the church has asked the village of Dundee to maintain the cemetery. The village suggested the church ask the town of Starkey to consider taking over the cemetery. In July, Donnan sent a letter to the town asking for their help. Donnan wrote, "At this point in time, the church would like to turn the cemetery over to the town of Starkey. This congregation is made up of folks over 60 and there is neither the manpower nor the funding to take on the task of managing the cemetery property. Nor do we have equipment to do so."
The town responded with a one-paragraph note in July which states, "The town of Starkey has no interest or obligation to take over the care of the Presbyterian Cemetery. The town of Starkey also does not have the manpower, funds or equipment to maintain another cemetery."
Donnan said that after the Dundee Presbyterian Church dissolves at the end of this month (December, 2017) the cemetery will then go to the Geneva Presbytery. Geneva Presbytery Elder Linda Badger Becker said Friday, Dec. 1, she wasn't sure of all the details of the property yet but said she will be researching those things and they plan to take care of the property.
The family names from the cemetery plots may be recognized by Dundee-area residents. Some of the surnames include Andrews, Bell, Benedict, Brown, Carmichael, Chambers, Churchill, Cook, Copeland, Crandall, Gabriel, Gardiner, Glover, Headley, Houghtaling, Hurd, Little, Norris, Ovenshire, Phinamer, Plummer, Rapalee, Smith, Taylor, Titsworth and Wright.
A website has been developed (not produced by The Observer) with additional details and names from the cemetery. The website address is located at www.newyorkroots.org/yates/ceme/dunpresceme.htm.