Exploring Dorset's Cemeteries
||Visiting any of Dorset's fourteen cemeteries is like opening a historical mystery novel. The names and dates are there on the headstones, but the details, the whys and the hows are not. Why are there so many graveyards and why are ten of the fourteen in East Dorset? If your interest is peaked to do some sleuthing yourself, reference the map to help with locations and cemetery names, many identified by the family names of members buried there.
Three cemeteries are still in active use: Maple Hill in Dorset (12), East Dorset Cemetery (10) and St. Jerome's in East Dorset Village (5). Notable in St. Jerome's is the predominance of granite markers, compared with Maple Hill, where marble is more common-curious, considering that many of those buried there were probably involved in the once-flourishing marble industry in East Dorset.
- North Dorset. At Emerald Lake State Park, up the hill to the right of the access road. This is one of the larger cemeteries in Dorset with over 100 graves. Earliest: 1811; latest (date of burial): 1997.
- Bowen/Edgertons. Off to the right side of the driveway at 976 Bowen Hill Road. Seven still-standing headstones document three families. Earliest: 1825; latest: 1879.
- Gifford. From the driveway for 268 Bowen Hill Road, it is on a hill above a mowed field to the right of the house. There are five large, readable headstones and smaller pieces, some footstones. Earliest: 1822; latest: 1858.
- Curtis. West side of Route 7, just north of the Harold Beebe Farm. Earliest: 1805; latest: 1850. Zacheriah Curtis, age 89, is buried here with two identified wives. One of Dorset's original settlers, he ran the Curtis Inn near Emerald Lake, where he raised a family of 25.
- St Jerome's Catholic. At the end of Leary Lane off Mad Tom Road, East Dorset Village. Resch's history of Dorset says it was established in 1868, when some bodies were disinterred from the Old Catholic (Green Peak) cemetery and moved to the new site. Earliest: 1859; active.
The following four cemeteries (6-9) are on the east side of Mt. Aeolus/Green Peak Mountain, off Dorset Hill Road. The road was an important thoroughfare between Dorset and Danby during the years of the most significant marble quarrying. The quarry workers and their families lived, farmed and worked along this road. These smaller cemeteries suggest it was just more convenient for people to be buried in these family plots than in the larger Catholic or Protestant cemeteries in the East Dorset valley.
- Old Catholic (Green Peak). Two miles from Morse Hill Road on Dorset Hill Road on the west side. When St. Jerome's Church was built in the valley, an adjacent cemetery was also established. It is said that several graves were disinterred here and moved to the graveyard beside the church. There were probably more than 75 graves here at one time. Many headstones are now tipped over, missing or difficult to read. Earliest: 1860; latest: 1990s (Johansson).
- Collson. 1.6 miles from Morse Hill Road in front of 1626 Dorset Hill Road. Eight mostly legible headstones; six of the eight stones mark Collson family graves. Earliest: 1826; latest: 1853.
- McDonald/French. One mile from Morse Hill Road on Dorset Hill Road. Five stones with inscriptions; three stone pieces. Of the five, four are children's graves. Four of the five deaths occurred between January and March 1842. Earliest: 1842; latest: 1847.
- Morse Hill. On the south side of Morse Hill Road, 0.24 miles from its intersection with Dorset Hill Road. Twenty-three stones are evident. Five families are represented by more than one member. Earliest: 1827; latest: 1871.
- East Dorset. Grave site of William "Bill" Wilson, AA co-founder. Col. William Marsh is also buried here. On his headstone is a U.S. Loyalist brass marker. This cemetery has been expanded to the south and remains active today. Earliest: 1816.
Maple Hill Cemetery
||Early life on the west side of Dorset centered around the church. The meeting house, built ca.1773, was later moved, but the adjacent cemetery remained. There seemed to be little need for family plots because there was already an established cemetery nearby.|
- Danby Mt. Rd. (Hazelton) From Route 30 north of Dorset, turn right on Danby Mt. Road for 1.7 miles; on west side. Four headstones; perhaps 13 graves. Earliest: 1843; latest: 1868.
- Maple Hill. East side of Route 30, .25 miles south of the Village green. An Association for its administration and care was established in 1860. The 6.6 acres contain 350 lots divided into eight-grave plots. A small parcel to the south was added in the early 1900s. The earliest burial in 1774 is Benjamin Baldwin at "aged 9 mos & 4 days." History has it that the kindly village doctor, F. C. Liddle, took stonecutter "Yank" Tully to task for misspelling the name Gertrude on a headstone he'd ordered. Unperturbed, Tully replied, "There are more of your mistakes in this place, Doctor, then there are of mine!"
- South Dorset. Reputedly the resting place of Dorset's first settler, Felix Powell. Several locations have been suggested, including the Kelleher Farm at the corner of West Road & Cross Road and the corner of West Road and Route 30 at its southern end. No evidence exists today.
- Armstrong. Upper Hollow Road, .03 mile east of Marcia Lane. The site is 30-40 feet above and 100 feet north of the road and not visible from it. The Dorset Historical Society restored the cemetery in 1967. Stones were removed, repaired and reset in their original location. It is the burial site for three generations of Armstrongs. Earliest: 1791; latest: 1827.
Reliable oral tradition suggests at least two other cemeteries: Tifft, at the intersection of Danby Mt. Road. and Route 30; and Deming, near the tavern in East Dorset at the corner of Benedict Road and Morse Hill Road. Untold numbers of people were buried in unmarked graves, but what stones remain have stories to tell those who explore.
Dorset Historical Society
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