CEMETERY INSCRIPTIONS RIPLEY TOWNSHIP
Chautauqua County, New York
Chautauqua County is the westernmost county in the State of New York, and the Township of Ripley is in the southwestern corner of the county. Bounded on one side by the state of Pennsylvania, and on another by the waters of Lake Erie, the county and the town become the Gateway to the West.
The first white settlers bought land here from the Holland Land Company in 1803 and the county came of age through population growth in 1816. The first documented burial in the township was in 1812 and through deed of gift, the surrounding acre came the nucleus of the first public burial ground, known as the East Ripley Cemetery. The First Presbyterian Church had been built in 1824 on adjoining land and when this church chose to consolidate in 1854 with the Second Presbyterian Church built twenty years earlier in the village of Quincy, the land was given to the Cemetery Association. The cemetery was incorporated and for the first time, lots were marked off and sold.
About 1854 another cemetery near the village was incorporated and is still known by its original name: Quincy Rural Cemetery. When the hamlet changed its name from Quincy to Ripley, only the cemetery retained the older name with the result that none can recall for whom or for what Quincy had been named.
There was one mass removal of graves from the original burial site to Quincy Cemetery; the Goodrich Family stones found in Section \”E\”, lots 35 and 36, were moved in May 1886 from the family burying ground on Main Street near Barnes Road. A report of this may be found in the local newspapers of that date.
Those are the largest cemeteries in the town, and both are in current use. The Baptist Union Burial Ground was established in 1847 and continued in use for about twenty-five years, with only scant data remaining about its existence. It has not survived, but research by the historians has given us a partial list of those who were buried there.
South Ripley is a small cemetery, still in use for occasional burials in that part of the township.
Northville Cemetery is in Pennsylvania, just over the State Line, and lots there were purchased by residents of both states. It is used only occasionally and is properly cared for.
How this information was gathered:
Within the last decade each cemetery was read, copied, checked, and brought up to date. The sexton of each cemetery was most gracious in sharing the information collected by his office. The last step in the preparation process was the gleaning of genealogical information from the records of the Ripley mortician. It was this source, kept since 1923, that provided the names of parents of the deceased, as well as other information important to a genealogist. Another source for this information is in the burial permits, also kept since 1923, which are filed with the Town Clerk.
Where to find additional information:
Several sources are available for further research.
For genealogy on a wider basis, you may join the Chautauqua County Genealogical Society, P.0. Box 404, Fredonia, NY 14063. Dues (in 1994) are $10.
Vital records in New York State begin about 1880 but access and use are restricted. In each township they are in possession of the Town Clerk, and copies may be selectively obtained for a fee. The office of the Ripley Town Clerk is in the Ripley Town Office Building, Park Avenue, Ripley, 14775; Tel:(716) 736-6881. Those marriage records which begin in 1908 and continue through April 1935 are duplicated in a file held by the County Clerk and may be somewhat easier to obtain. No others are available on a county level except termination of marriage records which are, of course, restricted -restricted, but not necessarily sealed. If this is what you need, ask; the people who work in this office are pleasant and helpful and if they can legally provide you with records, they will try to do so. The County Clerk\’s office is in the County Court House, Mayville, New York, 14757; Tel: (716) 753-4331.
While death records are filed with the town clerks, and while they are not open for public perusal, burial permits are somewhat easier to access and may provide needed information. In this township the file of bunal permits begins with 1923 deaths and continues to the current recordings. To contact either historian for the first time, call or write the office of the Town Clerk.
For many years the Ripley Town Historians have continued the compilation of Family Group sheets for every family we know to have lived in the township. There is a great deal of information there, yours for the asking, plus postage.
Using cemetery inscriptions as a source of genealogy is becoming increasingly unreliable as our social customs change. For whatever reason, cremation is more acceptable and quite frequently we find that the cremains are buried under a favorite tree or perhaps cast to the winds over Lake Erie. And who is to tell of it? The mortician who supervised the disposition of the cremains has a record of it, someone in the family may know of it, but the written data on which we have always relied is no longer there. One parent families and change-your-partner households in common practice today will compound the task of matching offspring to ancestor a frustrating one.
Although each cemetery is recorded separately, there is one encompassing index.
It was not the aim to list every occurrence of every name, but the listing of one familiar family member will direct the searcher to others of like surname or of possible relationship. When several members of one family are found in one cemetery plot, it seemed sufficient to index only the adults. Get acquainted with the index; it is unlikely that any actual recorded burial is omitted entirely.
Virginia Washburn Barden