Monday, March 3, 2008


photo by Barbara Bolster-Barrett

Cook Family Burying Ground

Today's featured cemetery is that of the family of Bennet Cook (1749-1801). The Cook Family Burying Ground is one of four on West Mountain on land that is now part of the Partridge Run Wildlife Management Area. This small, pretty cemetery in a wooded glade of Red Pines is surrounded by a stone fence that is falling down in places. There are 14 stones, 7 of which are in fair condition and 7 in poor condition. Most are leaning, 2 fallen, and 3 illegible in 1984. The grounds receive annual maintenance.
    This is the start of an Oct. 2, 1937 article in the World-Telegraph. The Resettlement Administration had recently bought over 3,300 acres of scrubbed-out farm land to make it a forest and wildlife preserve (see previous post). This article tells of the lives of four families left in the area, including that of Ellery Shufelt, age 41. He and his wife, age 23, and their three kids aged 6 weeks, 1 1/2, and 4, were squatting in an old, abandoned farmhouse. Ellery, the middle of thirteen children, never got as far as the fourth reader and could not read nor write. They used kerosene lamps at night as the electric and gas companies never bothered to push up to West Mountain. During his stint in the Army during the World War he caught bronchial pneumonia and lost the use of one of his lungs. There was no government compensation for that kind of veteran. In 1936 he made a meager living by sharecropping, using an old drop-reaper -- the windmill type with arms sweeping the buckwheat back. He figured his share would be twenty-five bushels of buckwheat that would sell for about fifty-five cents a bushel, just about the cost of production. He would be using it as feed for his thirty or so chicks. He also had a cash job as a night watchman for the Resettlement Administration.
  • FIRST TAVERN IN BERNE? A couple of posts ago there was an item on this 1936 newspaper article on the history of Berne. It has the picture of a house with the caption:
    This neat dwelling in the heart of Berne hamlet was erected more than a century and a quarter ago and used as a tavern. Recruiting for the war of 1812 was conducted in the building.
    In reply to my question as to which house that was, Allen Deitz replied that he believes it is the house of Ellen Yarmchuk. Her daughter, Nancy Yarmchuk Becker, agrees:
    "I had remembered the date of 1807 or 1809--it's probably the date the house was built. I do remember it was utilized in the War of 1812.¨
    This recent photo of the Yarmchuk house was taken by Allen Deitz. It is my opinion that the original house was the part on the right and that it has been extensively remodeled to remove the original door and to raise the roof. The front room, which is now the living room, would have been the site of the early tavern and been where recruiting was done for the War of 1812. The two story wing on the left was probably constructed in the latter half of the 19th. century.
  • OTHER EARLY TAVERNS IN BERNE - Allen wrote again to say:
    While looking for info on old local taverns, I came across a web site on a book called,"Early American Inns and Taverns,¨ by Elise Lathrop(1926). There is a chapter on "Inns of New York State" that includes a few lines about three Berne taverns--Berne, East Berne, and South Berne. Al D.
    "at Berne [not given this name until 1825, (AD)], Henry Engle opened in 1817 his Corporation Inn, which had been Eli Whipple's residence [Berne was then called Corporation (HM)]: and three years later, Elnathan Stafford was keeping a tavern at East Berne, or Werner's Mills [as it was called at the time (HM)], and buying his liquors in Philadelphia [which for a time led to the hamlet being called ¨Philadelphia¨ (HM)]. At South Berne, [Called Centerville (HM)] in 1822, Alexander Mckinley, a wagon-maker, opened a tavern, keeping a trained bear, a moose, and life figures of noted criminals to attract customers."

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