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Purdytown Cemetery


Moving the Purdytown Cemetery.

 The inundation of a hydroelectric reservoir typically entails at least some relocation of residents. Farms, barns, roads and other infrastructure in the path of the rising water must be moved to higher ground. When Lake Wallenpaupack filled in during the summer of 1924, Pennsylvania Power & Light Co. was faced with the ticklish task of moving an entire cemetery to higher ground.

 

At first, PP&L staff thought there were approximately 20 bodies buried in the Purdytown cemetery on what was then known as the Maud Andrews property in Paupack Township of Wayne County. But by the time the cemetery was moved to a new site along the Wilsonville-Lakeville Road in Paupack Township, contractors had identified 54 bodies in the 100-year-old burial ground.
In a June 10, 1924, Wayne County court order, Pennsylvania Power & Light Co. was given authorization to move the Purdy Cemetery about one-half mile, out of the path of the waters backed up by the dam being built near Wilsonville. The family cemetery had been abandoned for at least 50 years, and PP&L had advertised in the local Hawley Times its intentions of moving the cemetery that summer. Since "no relatives or friends of the dead having asked for permission to remove the remains at their own expenses," the court ordered that PP&L could remove the bodies at its own expense. PP&L contracted with Hawley undertaker George Teeter to move the bodies from the Purdy Cemetery to the new burial ground. Teeter was to be paid a flat rate of $450 for moving what was originally estimated to be 20 bodies. Work on relocating the Purdy Cemetery began the third week of August.
At first, rumors in the surrounding cornmunities suggested that workmen had found no bodies. "It has been reported that workmen have been unable to find any trace 'of coffins or bodies in a large number of graves," a news item in the Sunbury Daily Item of Aug. 20, 1924, reported. "Is the removal of markers and tombstones equivalent to removal of bodies from their graves?"
In reality, the opposite was the case. Teeter and his crew found human remains in nearly every grave. Tracing burial records in the county courthouse, Teeter found that the earliest burials in the Purdy Cemetery dated to 1810. Elder William Purdy, the pastor of the Baptist Church of Palmyra and his wife Rachel, the people for whom the cemetery was named, were buried within four years of each other between 1824 and 1828. All told, there were considerably more than 20 burials in the cemetery. "After the old site was thoroughly cleared of trees and underbrush in preparing to open the graves, it was found that there were more graves there than the original count seemed to show when Mr. Teeter and I made this count together," PP&Ls W.C. Anderson wrote John Wise in Allentown on August 7. "There are 27 or 28 well marked graves having one or two stone markers each, instead of 20 as we previously thought were there, and there are plain indications of still more graves which are not so distinctly marked with the names of individuals buried in them."
All told, there were 56 graves in the Purdy Cemetery. In a commentary on the child mortality rate in the 19th century, at least 30 of the bodies in the cemetery were infants or children. PP&L agreed to pay Teeter $20 per body for moving and reinterring the bodies in the cemetery, and the job was essentially completed by the end of August 1924. It was one of the more unique relocation efforts of the hydroelectric era in Pennsylvania.


Description of graves in Purdytown Cemetery
Transferred from old to new location, August 19, 1924

Information provided by PP&L

 Grave #

Description 

remains found

1
Child Found skull and few bones

 2
Stacy, Son of Abbot and Eliza Purdy. Died Sept. 12, 1844 - Age 2 yrs., 9 mos., 13 days Few bones

3
Child mold

4
Adult main part of skeleton

5
Van Vliet, Son of John and Miriam Boman. Died July 5, 1842 - Age 22 yrs., 2 mos., 28 days. bones

6
Child mold

7
Child piece of skull and mold

8
Infant mold

9
Child skull and few bones

10
Child skull and few bones

11
Celestia U., daughter of Samuel C. and Fanny Purdy. Died April 24, 1842 - Age 1 yr., 11 mos., 16 days. skull and number of bones

12
Peter Purdy - Died Aug. 20. 1835 - Age 53 yrs., 10 mos., 16 days. main part of skeleton

13
Polly, wife of Peter Purdy. Died Jan. 23, 1832 all of skeleton

14
Dorrance, son of Peter and Polly Purdy. Died Jan. 25, 1843 - |Age 29 yrs., 4 mos., 16 days. all of skeleton

15
Adult pieces of bone and mold

16
Child mold and parts of box

17
Child few bones, mold and nails

18
Child pieces of skull and mold

19
Child Found part of skull and few bones

20
Child Found part of skull and other small bones

21
Child Found mold and nails

22
Child few bones and nails

23
Elizabeth Purdy - August 16, 1810 (Child) skull and main part of skeleton and coffin practically complete

24
Child mold and nails

25
Silas Purdy - June 21, 1814. (Adult) * all of skeleton

26
Adult main part of skeleton

27
Elder Wm. Purdy - Pastor of Baptist Church of Palmyra. Died Mar. 19, 1824. Age 75 years. * all of skeleton

28
Rachel P., wife of Wm. Purdy. Died Oct. 12, 1828. Age 75 years. all of skeleton

29
Charick V., son of Rufus and Amanda Bennett. Died Aug. 12, 1844. Age 22 yrs, 4 mos., 24 days all of skeleton

30
Amanda, wife of Rufus Bennett. Died Mar. 22, 1843. Age 41 yrs, 10 mos., 18 days most of skeleton

31
Rufus Bennett - Died Oct. 31, 1847 - Age 55 yrs., 10 mos., 15 days most of skeleton

32
Adult (Name illegible) greater part of skeleton

33
Elizabeth Purdy - April 5, 1811 skull and few large bones

34
Child few bones

35
Child few bones

36
Child skull and few pieces of bone

37
Child found few small bones

38
M. Purdy - Died June 11, 1811 found skull and greater part of skeleton

39
E. Purdy - Died April 24, 1817 found few bones and mold

40
Adult (Name illegible) skull, part of vertebrae and mold

41
Adult (Name illegible) skull and few bones

42
Child few bones and mold

43
Child mold and nails

44
Child few bones and mold

45
Adult few bones and mold

46
Adult all of skeleton

47
Adult all of skeletion

48
Adult mold

49
Child mold

50
Child pieces of skull, mold and nails

51
Child mold and nails

52
Adult main part of skeleton

53
Child few pieces of bones

54
Infant mold

* A memo from the Office of Veterans' grave registation
Wayne County court House, Honesdale
list Silas Purdy and Elder W. Purdy as Veterans

Contributed to this site by Annie Palmer

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