Old Dansville Village Cemetery
AKA: Old Burying Ground, now Pioneer Park
Village of Dansville, Town of North Dansville, Livingston County, NY
Directions: From Main Street (Route 63), take Route 36 (Clara Barton Street) to the south; turn left on Church Street and follow to Pioneer Park.
Originated by Paul Giometti & Bob Glover in 2011
Coordinated by Deanne Knapp & Bob Glover
Key contributors, H. Ross Glover & Jane Schryver
Researched & tombstones photographed 2011-present by Bob Glover, H. Ross Glover & Deanne Knapp
For gravestone photos/obits/info coachbobglover@gmail.com

To the lists of burials at Old Dansville Village Cemetery

NOTE: This list is from gravestone readings, enhanced by information from obituaries and other sources. It is not an official record of the cemetery.

For the list of burials at Greenmount Cemetery, including expanded info on those buried at the Old Dansville Cemetery & whose bodies and/or stones were moved to Greenmount Cemetery, go to: Greenmount Cemetery

Locally purchased memorial stone erected August 2014. Memorial paid for by donations from many Dansville citizens and organizations.
Project spearheaded by Jane Schryver with the help of Bob Glover, Pat Kreiley, Chad Schuster and Paul Hoffman.

CAPTAIN NATHANIEL PORTER, first death & burial in Dansville, honored with a Pomeroy Foundation Historical Marker at the site of his burial

Captain Nathaniel Porter, first death and burial in Dansville  

Compiled by Jane Schryver and Bob Glover from files in the Dansville Town Historian’s Office
Research by former Town of North Dansville Historian Wilfred "Wutz" Rauber, and “Dansville Turns 200” by David Gilbert

1797---Nathaniel Porter, who had arrived in the valley with his brother William the year before, became the first to be interred in Dansville's Cemetery; he died on March 12, before he was even able to fashion his own place to live. He was buried at the Old Village Cemetery. By 1888, all markers were moved from that cemetery to Greenmount Cemetery and the bodies remained.

1811---Through an agreement with Colonel Nathaniel Rochester, the Dansville United Society gained title to 6 1/4 acres of land for $42.50. They had acquired, as a burying ground, an area on which Porter and others had been interred plus sufficient land to accommodate burials in the foreseeable future. (The area is bounded today by West Liberty, School, Bank and Church Streets.) The land became an official cemetery at this time. Most burials in Dansville between 1797-1847 were at this site.
1847--- On August 4, the Dansville Cemetery Association was organized and Greenmount Cemetery was opened. It is believed that there were no more burials at the old cemetery after this date. But it is possible that a few were made. In 1847 or 1848 about two dozen markers (but apparently not the remains) were moved to Greenmount Cemetery.

1877---The Dansville Express, Oct 11, 1877: "The site of the old, and now neglected Dansville Cemetery, was laid out about the year 1796. The spot was selected by the pioneers of our valley, many of whom were buried there, and it is indeed sacred to their memory. Greenmount Cemetery, with its varied, unsurpassed beauty of scenery was laid out and opened. Then the monuments and tombstones in the old cemetery began to disappear, and its dead, tenderly removed to the new grounds. But many monuments still remain and the ground is covered with neglected graves."
1888--The old cemetery, unused since the founding of Greenmount Cemetery in 1847, was an eyesore. On February 16, the Village Improvement Society was organized. Mr. Andrews offered a resolution to the Village board: “Resolved, that the Dansville Village Improvement Society be authorized to remove from the old burying ground the human remains and monuments from the graves….(listing some 30 names including Dansville’s first teacher Thomas Macklem).

Sep 1888 -- Dansville Breeze: "Gov. Hill signed the bill granting the privilege of removing bodies from the old cemetery on the square." The Village resolved “that the Society be directed to properly reinter such remains in Greenmount Cemetery in the Town of North Dansville and that no expense shall be made to the corporation for such transfer." The briars and weeds of the old cemetery were burned away; the tombstones, some half-sunken, were buried or removed and relocated to Greenmount. A new layer of topsoil provided the finishing touch on what would now be called Union Park.

1889---Per research by the Town of North Dansville Historian as reported in the May 17, 2012 Genesee Country Express: “A list of 33 remains out of an estimated 500 were removed. In May of 1889, a dozen men leveled the area and cleaned it up. The stones were taken by wagon to Greenmount. Most of them were made of wood and have since deteriorated and...were just disposed of. The stones went on the new graves of the bodies that were moved, and the rest were just piled behind the barn at Greenmount or alongside the service road above it." Within a week nothing remained to mark the area as final resting place for many, many early Dansville settlers.

NOTE: It is believed that only a few remains were removed from the old cemetery and thus up to 500 bodies may still be located at the old cemetery site. Some 150 tombstones dated 1847 or sooner have been located on private lots at Greenmount Cemetery and thus were relocated from the old cemetery or are replacement stones. The stones carted to Greenmount Cemetery remain today where they were dumped.

Dansville Express 6 Sep 1888: "More than half the graves and headstones in the old cemetery have been put out of sight by leveling the mounds and burying the stones. The consent of the friends of those buried was obtained before anything was done. "
(NOTE: This may or may not be the truth, certainly there is evidence that many stones were moved to Greenmount and tossed aside; some were moved to private lots. So some also could be buried in the ground at the old site.)

1904---The F.A. Owen publishing company erected a new structure overlooking the old cemetery and had it landscaped. Up to this point the plot of ground had been referred to as just plain "Burying Ground." Mr. Owen's interest sparked a movement to change the name — the one time community eyesore became, officially, "Normal Park" a name derived from NORMAL INSTRUCTOR, end product of Owen staff and presses, a magazine increasingly popular with teachers.

1954--- The Village Board officially changed the name of the park, the site of the old burying grounds, from “Normal Park” to “Instructor Park” at the request of the F.A. Owen Company as it had changed the name of its magazine to "The Instructor."

1954---Dansville Historian Wutz Rauber delivers a report to the Village Board on the history of the old burying grounds and his recommendations. The report was initiated in view of the fact that the site was being considered for the building of a new school. The Dansville Breeze reported: “Rauber suggested that from the standpoint of history, the park should be maintained as it is, a memorial to these people, and at some time be suitably marked to indicate this fact. The board received favorably a suggestion to mark historical data on some sort of a plaque and indicated that such action probably would be taken in the future.” (Note: no action was taken.)

1954—Under the supervision of Wutz Rauber, a detailed transcription is made of old discarded stones found at Greenmount Cemetery that originally were erected at the Old Village Cemetery. Those stones remain where they were located.

2012---The team of Bob and H. Ross Glover located and recorded 16 tombstones that had been removed from the old cemetery and discarded behind the barn or up the service road at Greenmount Cemetery, including the stones of Captain Nathaniel Porter, the first death and burial in Dansville, and Thomas Macklem, Dansville's first teacher. About 150 stones are located and photographed at Greenmount Cemetery with death dates prior to the opening of Greenmount Cemetery, thus they likely were transfers or replacement stones for burials at the old cemetery.

2012--On June 12, the Village board approved by a unanimous decision that the name of the park be changed to "Pioneer Park" in honor of the pioneers whose remains are still there under the earth.

2014---In August, the Pioneer Park memorial stone was erected at the site of the Old Village Cemetery, paid for by donations from local citizens and organizations.

2017--- Town of North Dansville approved the erection of the old Nathaniel Porter tombstone, with an updated bronze plaque, per the request of his 4th great-grandson, retired Colonel Grant Porter, on the plot of Capt. Porter's son, Matthew Porter, in Section L, located in the upper left corner of the cemetery.

Honoring a Revolutionary War Hero
By Jasmine Willis
Genesee Country Express
September 7, 2017
DANSVILLE — Imagine embarking on a journey with your entire family, friends, and strangers in a wagon pulled by a strong-willed horse to some unknown destination in hopes of a better life.

Captain Nathaniel Porter had survived the Revolutionary War after being a prisoner in two of the worst prison camps in New Jersey for 18 months. Porter found love with Charity Lane and together they had 11 children. A year after Porter followed his son-in-law Daniel Faulkner (Dansville is named after him) down to this sleepy little valley he succumbed to an illness in a log cabin known as the “Castle.” It stood a little west of the German Lutheran church in Dansville village; making him the first death and burial at the Old Village Cemetery in 1797. He was 54 years old.

This war hero left behind a legacy in Dansville. Porter fought bravely for his country, loved and protected his family, and was laid to rest in a place he called home.

However, in 1888 the village had forgotten about the Revolutionary War hero and his sacred oath he made to his family. They wanted a beautiful park for their community and thus removed the stones from the ground. Nobody knows how many were buried at the old cemetery, how many stones and bodies were moved, and how many remain. The best estimate is that up to 500 may have been buried at the old cemetery, 16 tombstones have been found that were discarded at Greenmount (there likely were more that were discarded but have not been found), about 150 tombstones have been found on family plots at Greenmount but were not originally buried there as they pre-date Greenmount’s 1847 opening (of these some but probably not all of the bodies were also moved). We know from old articles that many wooden stones were simply plowed under. So there may be 300 or so bodies in the ground at the old cemetery.

After many long years of hard work and determination a father and son would bring some justice to those left behind. Robert Glover and his father Ross became very dedicated to keeping the first settlers stories alive.

On Aug. 30 a lovely ceremony was put on by Robert Glover, Colonel Grant Porter (Cpt. Nathaniel Porter’s fourth great-grandson) of Portland, Oregon, Deanne Knapp, and the Dansville American Legion Post 87 Honor Guard.

This was a team effort to make this possible for the honor of one of our first settlers.

Col. Porter is a member of one of the oldest veteran’s associations in the country known as the 80th Division Veterans Association. The 80th Division formed in 1917 and is celebrating it’s 100th anniversary this year. Shortly after World War I, the 80th Division Veterans Association formed and still exists today. Porter was their National Commander in 2012 and served for 30 years in the U.S. Army before retiring in September, 2015.

“This is really special for me and my family. Nathaniel Porter was a great American patriot and he is my fourth great-grandfather. I would like to thank a few key individuals here in your town for their commitment and dedication to bringing this about. Deanne Knapp worked really hard behind the scenes, and if it weren’t for her efforts and the efforts of Ross and Bob Glover, none of this would have happened,” he said. “In 2012, I brought my Mom and Dad to Dansville as they had spoken with Bob and they were all very interested in genealogy. Bob couldn’t be there but we met Ross and he took us to the old cemetery site, now the beautiful Pioneer Park, and also over to see Nathaniel Porter’s stone by Greenmount cemetery. That’s when we really got interested in doing something about taking care of our ancestor’s gravestone. Both my Dad and Ross Glover have since passed away but Bob Glover and I can now rest easy because we know our fathers really wanted this to happen.”

Nathaniel Porter was born in Hunterdon County New Jersey in 1743, He married Charity Lane and together they had 11 children. One of his children was Richard N. Porter who is buried in Nunda at Oakwood Cemetery. Col. Porter is related to Nathaniel through Richard N. Porter.

Col. Porter was amazed his ancestor’s stone had remained in such good shape after over two centuries.

Glover told Genesee Country Express the story of how this all began. In 1954 a couple of Dansville town historians kept inventory of all the stones that had been discarded. The Dansville Boy Scouts had done a description of all the stones in great detail.

In about 1954, town historian Wutz Rauber assisted by the Boy Scouts wrote a detailed transcription of several tombstones that were found discarded at Greenmount and came from the old cemetery. That included the exact wording on the stones of Nathaniel Porter and his wife; and his brother William Porter and his wife. William Porter’s stone has not yet been “re-found.

Greenmount Cemetery was erected in 1847, so anyone who passed on before that was buried in the Old Village Cemetery. These stones were taken and dumped in the woods at the new cemetery on Greenmount Avenue. The Glover Family made it their mission to find, clean, and preserve these stones. They wanted to honor those who came and settled our community. There were many incredible pillars of the community that were abandoned in the woods.

“They put all these stones in a horse drawn wagon and dumped them on the hill. The bodies were left unmarked at the park,” Glover said. “The old cemetery fell apart so they leveled it. We decided to have a meeting and start a fundraising campaign. Grant (Porter) paid for the plot and approved the (Nathaniel Porter’s stone) moved here.”

Col. Porter said there are still about 20 stones still left behind. William Porter, Nathaniel’s brother also came up in 1796 and his stone has not been found yet.

Elizabeth Porter, daughter of Matthew (died in 1901) purchased some land in Greenmount Cemetery for her family to be buried there. Beside her are her parents Matthew Porter and his wife Sally, Nathaniel’s son who fought in the War of 1812, Mehitable Fairchild Porter, second wife of Nathaniel Porter, nephew of Capt. Nathaniel Porter, and now Capt. Nathaniel Porter with his wife Charity Lane.

Col. Porter had to get a notified document allowing the town to mount his ancestor’s stone in Greenmount Cemetery since he is a direct descendant of Capt. Porter.

“I am extremely pleased with what the village has done to memorialize Pioneer Park,” Col. Porter said. “The Dansville Honor Guard made the day very special. It was a great tribute to my (fourth great) grandfather. My father James and mother Denali came out in 2012 and they didn’t get to see the stone, because it was still buried in the weeds.”

Glover is very grateful to the village and the town for making all of this possible.

“We are grateful for the village’s role in the project at Pioneer Park, and the town’s role in moving the stone to the Porter family plot,” he said. “The key person behind the fundraising and moving the project forward at Pioneer Park was Jane Schryver. Dad was a key person in initiating the movement to recognize those forgotten. As a WWII Vet and former Commander and Historian of the American Legion in Dansville he was especially driven to properly honor Rev War soldier Nathaniel Porter.”

Glover reached out to the Porter family in 2010 and has kept in touch with them. He wanted them to know he was doing all he could to bring justice to the long forgotten members of our community.

“I got the plaque made, because I don’t know how long they will be able to read the stone,” Glover said. “I had to brush at it for a long time to find the words. My dad and I were on our hands and knees for a long time to clean it. The Snyder Brothers Cemetery Service helped dig it up and mount it on a base with the plaque.”

Col. Porter is happy that his fourth great-grandfather is now where he belongs with his family.

To the lists of burials at Old Dansville Village Cemetery

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Last Update January 24, 2019