The Dewey Family Cemetery

    The Dewey family cemetery, described to be about one acre in size, is south of the Dewey house and across from the school.  The cemetery likely contains the remains of the Dewey, Hamilton, Odell, Newell, Kingsley, Moore and Twiss families.  American soldiers serving in the War of 1812 who died after the LaColle stone mill siege of March 1814 were buried here.  Tradition states that British soldiers who were wounded in the Battle of Plattsburgh were cared for at the tavern, and when they died, they were buried in the cemetery.  

    The cemetery was placed in the elevated area of the south field in the sandy section.  This location made it easier to dig graves.  Most of the corn field has rock ledge below the surface and other areas of the field are low and flood in the spring.  Today, no trace of the Dewey family cemetery exists and it is impossible to determine the exact location of the main burials.  Only the cemetery driveway over the ditch by the road is present.   Local legend states that the cemetery stones were gradually removed over time by a farmer in the early 1900s and some of them may have been thrown into the newer part of the barn that burned down in 1973.  No one knows if this is true, though.  Mr. Bedard says his father remembered seeing the cemetery and that he only remembers seeing the cemetery’s iron gate years later.

    After many years of speculation, the date of the removal of the cemetery stones has finally been narrowed down.  In October of 1935, Hugh McLellan transcribed the town of Champlain cemeteries (some of which he noted were abandoned and almost unreachable) but he never transcribed Dewey’s.  This is because the cemetery stones had already been moved to Glenwood Cemetery.  A 1936 newspaper article about the Dewey family written by a descendent stated that no trace of the cemetery remained.  The author also said that only the iron gate remained.  The iron gate was removed between 1936 and 1961. 

    When Hugh completed the transcription of Glenwood Cemetery, he recorded the stones from the Hamilton and Dewey families.  These stones had surely been in the Dewey cemetery.  Inspection of the two rows of stones show (left to right): Sylvester Hamilton (son of Sidney and Hannah), Sarah Hamilton (wife of John who died May 20, 1833, at the age of 82), John Hamilton (who died on December 18, 1814 at age 68), Joel Hamilton (son of Elias and Dorcas who died on January 4, 1826 at the age of 28), Dorcas Hayford Hamilton, Elias Hamilton as well as Silas Hamilton Dewey, Drucilla Dewey, Deacon Samuel Newell and others. 

    The plot at Glenwood Cemetery was purchased by Elizabeth Barber, daughter of Silas Hamilton Dewey, in 1909.  No Barbers or any of their descendents are buried in this plot (they are buried in Riverside Cemetery in Plattsburgh).  Perhaps the stones were rescued by her after their removal from the field.  This is likely as the first half of the noted Hamilton stones were placed in the same cement and spaced by only a few inches.  Most burial plots are larger than this.  The other half of the stones (such as Silas Hamilton Dewey, his wife and sister Drusilla) were placed further apart so it is possible burials could be here.

dewey and hamilton family at glenwood cemetery,
        champlain village

    In any case, the stones of Elias, his wife Lovisa and their youngest children have never been found.  Perhaps they did not have stones.  Or perhaps their stones were thrown into the foundation of the newer section of the barn as several people today remember hearing this story.  Again, no one knows for sure.  Further, the American and British soldiers had been buried in “nameless graves” and did not have stones.  The location of their burials have been lost to time.  So it is likely that some or all of the Dewey and Hamilton families (as noted) are still buried in the Dewey family cemetery as well as all of the American and British soldiers.  A blue and yellow historic marker is planned for this site in the coming years once funds are raised. 

    It should be noted that Deacon Samuel Newell died on December 16, 1812, of “Camp Fever” (typhus) after being exposed to American soldiers.  He had married John Hamilton’s daughter Elizabeth and lived on Lot 79.  It was written that a “fatal fever” had swept through the troops in early December and by December 5, 27 soldiers had died in camp.  At one time, 25 regular troops were sick as well as 84 militia and 140 inhabitants.  Rev. Amos Pettingill, a traveling missionary and the only minister available between Champlain and Plattsburgh, consoled the sick and dying.  Over four days, he wrote: “visited 14 sick soldiers at my house, conversed with them and prayed in three rooms.”  “Visited the wounded, sick and dying.  5 lay dead yesterday and 2 have left the world to day.”   “Visited the guard house; prayed with and exhorted the soldiers.  Spent considerable time in the evening with the commanding officer, and three other officers.  Prayed with and solemnly exhorted them.”  “Heard of several who were siezed with sickness last night.  Visited an old Christian in great distress who is apparently near death.  Am unwell myself.”  Pettingill would live through this epidemic but 30 Champlainers died during the winter including Deacon Newell.