Buried history

Thanks to the diligent efforts of a mother and daughter team, a long forgotten cemetery on Van Buren Road may finally get the recognition it deserves.

Thirty-nine individuals were buried at Hardscrabble Cemetery between the years of 1805 and 1862. Sadly, in the years that followed, the headstones were destroyed and tossed into a nearby wooded area, and up until recently, the field was used to plant corn and other crops.

Helen and Derry Page give a detailed history of the cemetery in volume two of their self-published Christian women's magazine titled "Through the Eyes and Heart of a Mother and Daughter," which is available at the Baldwinsville Public Library.

"We knew (the cemetery) was there," explained Helen. "We had a farm there. We'd go up there and walk in the woods. At that point (in the 1970's), we found some of the stones. Some of them still have the names on."

Among those buried at Hardscrabble Cemetery were 20 adults and 19 children, including one year-old Ozro Earll, son of the original landowner.

"Isaac Earll was the original owner. His son is the first one that is buried there. He left (the land) to Baldwinsville," Helen said. "That's why it was unbelievable that they did nothing over the years."

At one point in time, there was a sign marking the existence of the cemetery, but Helen explains that "somehow or other they took the sign down and took the stones and buried them in the back."

In July of 2004, the Pages presented their research on Hardscrabble Cemetery to the Van Buren Town Board whose members were shocked to learn the history and could not believe that the graves were currently covered with corn.

"Actually, (the town board) stopped the farmer. He didn't even realize it. The land belonged to Baldwinsville. This year, they resurveyed it, plowed it down, leveled it off and planted grass there."

The Pages continue to work with Town Supervisor Mary Crego in the hopes of creating some kind of permanent memorial marker for the site.

"They're hoping to get enough money to put some kind of sign or marker with the names of these people," Helen said.

"We're hoping that one day at least they'll get a plaque or something with all the names on it. They've already started working on it."

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