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History of Pine Grove Cemetery

The Pine Grove Cemetery was known as the "new cemetery" to distinguish it from the old one on Swaggertown Road (the Jeremiah Smith Cemetery).

 

As families settled in Charlton, roads and schools were built to accommodate the increase in population but they had other concerns as well. Many families, Low, Cavert, Brown, Hayes, Marvin, to name a few, wanted a cemetery in the southern portion of the town and formed a committee to locate a suitable and affordable site.  The first parcel of 2 acres, situated on a knoll and surrounded with pine trees, was purchased from Thaddeus Hayes for one hundred dollars.

Work began immediately to prepare the site which included building a bridge across a small creek which runs parallel to the road. Lots sold quickly for $5.00 and soon it became obvious that more land was required.  Four additional acquisitions were made, the last in 1914 bringing it to the current size (slightly over 6 acres).  The earliest recorded burial at this site was Anna Taylor in 1779.  The present name of the cemetery was first used in 1847.

April 1, 1818 a committee representing the board of trustees of the Freehold Presbyterian Church met with the board of trustees of Pine Grove in search of a lot in an incorporated cemetery to relocate the stones from the Freehold Cemetery.  They were appropriated a lot in the south east portion.  The stones dating from 1787 were moved and placed in three even rows.

The wooden bridge was a concern to all and many discussions took place in regards to replacing it. Finally, in 1904 the trustees agreed to build a stone bridge to last many years and require little maintenance.  Alexander Crane, an architect, drew plans for an arched, stone bridge as the replacement.  George F. Smith took charge of construction and gathering material.  A stone cutter, William Barrett, was hired to cut the stone, and on April 3, 1905 the arched bridge was completed.  Since some of the materials and labor were donated, the total cost was only $128.32.

In 1999 an engineer was asked to inspect it and found, although narrow by today's standard, it is in perfect condition.  The small bridge across the creek at the entrance is an example of fine architectural masonry, as is the Morehouse vault.

Notables buried in Pine Grove include the following:

  1. Effie Morehouse died April 23, 1895, age 20 years, daughter of a prosperous farmer and merchant.  She left a will in which she requested her brother, Frank, to build a vault for her burial.  He purchased two lots for the vault, a final resting place for Effie, which has become one of Charlton's many landmarks.  In her will, Effie stated that she wished to be buried in a mahogany casket to be placed in a vault.  At one time children had been playing on the arched roof of the vault and pried the front facade away from the roof, allowing rain and melting snow to creep into the vault.  Legend circulated that Effie was placed in a glass casket, and children were warned not to throw stones at the iron door, nor stomp on the roof top, as any sudden jar might crack the glass coffin, and her remains would go up in a cloud of dust.  This legend kept her remains intact, until the 1970's, when neighboring children began to play on the roof.  They pushed the front wall away from the roof, thus leaving a large opening between the two.  The stone had to be removed to re-cement the joints, and it was found that vandals had dropped down into the vault and scrambled Miss Morehouse's dress, and bones. It was then discovered that the casket was made of mahogany, not glass.  It was feared the frost would topple the stone front.  Because children had found access to the vault, the roof was repaired and the door was permanently sealed during the 1980's to prevent further vandalism or injury to children playing there.
  2. Thomas Low, 1795-1860, for many years held the office of Saratoga County Sheriff.  He was a descendant of James Low, who in 1775, settled on a farm located on Division Street that is now owned by The Black family.  Thomas Low resided on the farm south of the Low homestead.
  3. Albert Conde, a descendent of Jesse Conde, who was one of the first to settle in this area in 1774.  Albert was born in Charlton in 1868, and died at Oneida, NY in 1960.  Mr. Conde is credited with getting a patent on one of the first dairy milking machines, near the Syracuse area.
  4. Major Millard, who died October.2l, 1871 at age 76 years.  He owned the farm adjacent to the Freehold Church.  His most noteworthy accomplishment was that he housed in his home the Charlton Union Free Library.  The library was later taken over by District #8 school.
  5. John Boyd Packer 1797-1868.  In 1859 he owned the first farm on the west side of Maple Avenue.  At the location of the new District #8 schoolhouse, he donated the land for the school.  For his generosity, he was exempted from paying school taxes for many years.  He held the office of Assessor in 1838.  His most noteworthy contribution to our heritage was the Waterford style brick house, complete with the roof steps to the chimneys.  With progress, these parapets have been removed.  When the Clute family owned this farm, they operated their Maple Avenue Dairy.
  6. The Dell- This is a grouping of early sandstone markers.  For many years it has been a mystery why the stones are set so close together.  In researching, it was learned that there had been a graveyard behind the Freehold Church.  When the present church was built in 1853, the stones and remains of the people buried there were removed and placed in this dell in the southeast comer of Pine Grove.  Some believe that only the stones were moved to Pine Grove; accounting for the closeness of the stones.  One of these stones is for Jesse Conde, Jr., who died before his father created the private burial ground on the west half of their farm.  This corner of Pine Grove received the most serious damage during the wind storm of 2008 (see below).
  7. Summers Hiller, 1776-1835 operated a gristmill at the Little Troy settlement.  Most likely, Mr. Hiller was a cooper, and made his own barrels for the grains that he ground in his mill.
  8. John Taylor Aug 28, 1749 to Apri126, 1829 was born in Freehold, NJ and moved to Charlton with his wife Chloe.  He was a successful farmer.  For 30 years he was a member of the Presbyterian Church in Charlton. "He died without a struggle, or a groan, in the full possession of his faculties and in firm faith of a glorious resurrection".  His fifth son John Taylor was New York's Speaker of the House of Representatives (1820-21 and 1825-27).
  9. Benjamin Knapp, 1822-1896 resided in the brown shingled house adjacent to the village park.  Mr. Knapp operated a blacksmith and carriage shop to the rear of the house.
  10. Spinster Laura Crane, who in 1847 developed a unique hobby by conducting a human hair canvas of friends and relatives.  The results totaled 74 persons; there were 48 heads of brown, 9 heads of black, 7 heads of blond, 5 redheads, and 5 heads of gray.
  11. Spinster Jess E. Martin, daughter of Richard.  Miss Martin received her certificate for teaching and taught children in one-room schoolhouses in all of the adjacent towns.  She had said that in many rural homes where she had to board out, she was hardly given enough to eat to make up for the strenuous walking to and from the schoolhouse.  Her tribute to our heritage is that she was the last to teach at the District #8 schoolhouse, when it was then closed as a part of the new central school systems.  With the closing of the one room schoolhouse, the residents gave up their home rule, started by Gideon Hawley in 1813.
  12. Henry Springer 1869-1956.  Mr. Springer was the last to operate the pump factory at Jockey Street where he manufactured wooden pumps to raise water to the surface in dug wells.  When the Charlton Historic Society was organized in 1966, the design of the Springer pump was adopted as their emblem.  Mr. Springer, a staunch democrat, was elected a supervisor for one term.  In this republican stronghold, he was beaten out in the next election by a "kissin cousin", Elmer Smith (see below).
  13. Joseph Zietkowski, at the age of 15 years fell of his father's hay-wagon and fractured his skull.  It appears that because of the isolation of their farm, the family did not attend the church of their faith, and Joseph was refused burial in a Catholic cemetery, so his parents opted for this location.  Both of his parents also rest here.
  14. Frederick Hequembourg, prominent business man and also a former Charlton town supervisor.
  15. Elmer Smith 1896-1970 owned the farm on the comer of Eastern Avenue and Division Street.  Former Charlton town supervisor, and later Saratoga County Commissioner of Jurors.

Cost of maintenance has always been severe problem as it is today.  The Rotary Club, Eagle Scouts, lot owners, and others in the community have volunteered their time and resources and have spent many hours helping with some of what needed to be accomplished.


The Association meets regularly each year to discuss concerns and make plans to maintain and enhance the site.  Future plans are to create an Urn Garden and repair many of the very old stones.  The stately pines have served us well but have reached the time of replacement. Future plans include, replacing them with young pines in keeping with the name, Pine Grove.

In 2008, a severe wind storm, followed the next winter by an ice storm, caused extensive damage to the property.  Old stones were further damaged and many trees were lost.  While we have recovered somewhat, it will take time and funding to repair stones and remove more of the damaged trees.