Saturday, May 25, 2019

How Many People Does it Take to Locate a Cemetery?

Recently, while I was preparing for a trip to visit family back East, I remembered visiting a very small cemetery of about a dozen headstones in the woods off River Road in Calverton. I had taken a few pictures of the headstones but thought I’d double check to see if the cemetery had been recorded on FindAGrave. If not, then I should take a few minutes and get photos of the headstones to post. I found that the ‘Wells Cemetery’ had been documented on FindAGrave. I did, however, notice another cemetery listed in Calverton, NY entitled the ‘Edwards Cemetery’. Hmm…I grew up there and NEVER remember hearing anything about an ‘Edwards Cemetery’. 

When I opened the cemetery link there was a listing for several people but no headstone pictures. I also noted a request for a photo. I knew I would have very little time while in Calverton but maybe I could find this cemetery and take a photo for the person requesting it. I was very puzzled by the idea that this cemetery even existed and I had no idea about where to find it. Genealogists do love a quest!

I contacted the gentleman looking for a photo of a headstone. Rick was looking for the headstone of David Edward Dayton, reportedly buried there. He had no idea of the actual location of the cemetery besides it being listed as in Calverton, New York. OK, I know there is an Edwards Avenue in the area. So, maybe the cemetery is off that road on a dirt road behind one of the farm fields? I know ‘Edwards’ lived there and were farmers for generations. I even have a 4th great grandmother who was an Edwards from the area. Maybe I have ancestors buried there?

When I got to New York I asked my family. My Dad has lived in that area for over 80 years (and my grandparents since 1929). Surely he would know. No, he’d never heard of it. My brother recommended a family friend who knows everything all about the area and his family has also been there for generations. Jay said he’d ask his sister, the genealogist. His sister thought it was maybe in the triangular area where Edwards Avenue, River Road and Railroad Avenue come together. My Dad never remembered a cemetery there but maybe it’s in the little bit of woods there.

I contacted the person who had listed the names for the Edwards Cemetery on FindAGrave.  The information she had came from Elbert N. Carter & Leigh Phillips in 1973, “this cemetery is located approximately 0.3 miles west of Edwards Avenue on South River Road or Mill Road. It is about 70 yards south of the road and to the East of a house and garage. The cemetery is in very bad shape and is completely overgrown with briars. Most of the stones are down.”

My son happened to be visiting for about an hour and heard us talking about this and our wondering who to ask next. The woman who had listed the cemetery responded as we were talking. At the same time my son showed me his phone and said “Here are the coordinates for the Edwards Cemetery.” SURPRISE! Mill Road, this matched what the woman from FindAGrave said. I had looked on FindAGrave for information about the cemetery and there wasn’t any but I had forgotten what my son always tells me “GOOGLE it Mom!”

The next morning my Dad said, “Well, let’s go see if we can find this cemetery.” He and my stop mother and I drove the couple of miles to Mill Road, Calverton, NY. Then we went exactly .3 mile and saw nothing … but trees, brambles, overgrowth, etc.

A little bit farther there was a sign for a Nursery.

We saw a truck pull in so we parked on the side of the road and my father went to ask the driver if he knew of a cemetery nearby. I HAD to look also. So off I went through the brush.  My son had dropped a ‘pin’ on Google Maps for me. I walked with my phone showing the location of the spot for the cemetery and my location as I walked in to the woods through the brush following the ‘pin’. I was determined to find some tombstones in the bushes. 

Nothing. I came out by the road in to the nursery and asked someone if they knew of a cemetery. A worker told me to go in the greenhouse and find someone. I found someone who knew exactly what I was looking for. I had walked right past it looking for her. There it was…in the middle of the Nursery. WOW!! SUCCESS!!

I went back to the car to find my parents and share and show them my discovery. The owner of the Nursery happened to come by and explained that she had purchased the Nursery in 2004. She had placed a retaining wall around the cemetery to help preserve it. She said the previous owners had repaired the broken stones that were there to help save them.

Unfortunately, the headstone of David Dayton was not there. It may have been at one time but may have been lost to time. There were 7 stones in total with 6 carrying the Surname Edwards.

A very special thank-you to everyone who aided me on my Quest and has helped over the years preserve this small cemetery! It took a lot of people to find this cemetery but it is now found. I will add the photos for the headstones to FindAGrave as soon as possible and the location of the cemetery for others to find as well.  Don’t give up on your Quest to find those little known cemeteries you are searching for and know there are people out there to help you!

If you have any corrections, additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,


  1. The cemetery is posted on NOTE from 1973: This cemetery is located approximately 0.3 miles west of EDWARDS AVE. on SOUTH RIVER ROAD or MILL ROAD. It is about 70 yards south of the, road and to the East of a house and garage. The cemetery is in very bad shape and is completely overgrown with briers. Most of the stones are down. Ref. #1 LONG ISLAND FORUM Vol. XXXIV, #8 (Aug. 1971) Pg. 166-169
    Copied March 13, 1973 by ELBERT N. CARTER & LEIGH PHILLIPS. (Posted on Long Island Genealogy

    1. Yes, thank-you, that is the same information I happened to find out from another source, however, that information is old and needs to be updated. The driveway that will get you to the cemetery is to the east of the Colorful Garden sign and just west of the shooting range on the south side on Mill Road. It was however, an interesting and fun journey with a lot of great help from others!