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The Genealogy of a Family Cemetery in Glenville, NY

The following article was printed in the Scotia-Glenville Journal on Sept. 22, 1966. It was clipped by my grandmother, Sadie Wienclawski Van Epps. This article and the cemetery that it's about sparked my interest in my family's genealogy. I have transcribed this article in hopes that it will help someone else to someday to discover a missing link in their own family tree. Items in parentheses were added by the original author Donald Keefer or myself to clarify some of the facts in the article. Click on the linked names below in article to see pictures of the graves as they look today.


Swaggertown Cemetery Discovered

On the bank of a densely wooded ravine near the intersection of Spring and Snake Hill Rd., Don Keefer, Scotia-Glenville historian, recently discovered a long-abandoned family burial ground. The plot is located on the farm of Mr. and Mrs. Irvin Van Epps and is one of several such forgotten and neglected cemeteries that exist in rural areas of our town.

The cool, dark woods was infested with mosquitoes the July afternoon the historian visited the spot. The little ravine was also dotted with the excavations of the woodchuck. Among the thick underbrush and fallen trees stood nine marble headstones marking the resting place of members of the Van Eps (now spelled Van Epps) family who were pioneers in the Swaggertown section of Glenville.

In fact, it is from this old family the area got its name. The Van Eps family, numerous in number, were related by marriage to most of the other families in the neighborhood. It soon became known in the Dutch language as "Zwager" town, meaning "Brother-in-law" town, or "Swaggertown" as we know it. The "Swagger" in Swaggertown has nothing to do with the early residents of the place "walking with a conceited strut" as this author has heard and even seen in print.

Surrounding the small plot could be detected the remains of a stone wall that once protected the sacred spot from roving livestock. Most of the stones are leaning; one had been shattered by a falling tree. Several bore barely legible inscriptions. Others, surprisingly, were as sharp and clear as the day they were cut.

Six graves were marked by plain field stones bearing no inscription. There may have been other such markers now sunk out of sight or hidden in the dense brush and thick covering of leaves.

Several stones mark the ancestors of Irvin A. Van Epps, the owner of the farm, including his grandfather, Laurens Van Eps, who died Aug 2, 1868, aged 54 years and 13 days. This Laurens Van Eps was a seventh generation descendant of Dirk Van Eps, a Hollander, who was one of the first settlers of Albany. Mrs. Van Epps told your historian that Lauren's wife, Sarah A. Robbins, who died in 1890, did not care for the remote location of the cemetery on the hill and directed that upon her death she was to be buried among her kin in the Reformed Church Cemetery in Scotia. We feel that she made the right decision.

The earliest burial was that of Clarrisa (nee Van Slyck), wife of Alexander J. Van Eps, who died May 18, 1821, aged 49 years, 8 months and 28 days. The last burial was that of Gilbert Van Epps who died in 1892.

Two stones of particular interest were those of Harriet and Hypca, daughters of Laurens and Sarah A. (Robbins) Van Eps. Hypca died Feb. 18, 1860, aged 6 years and 4 months. Five days later, on Feb. 23, Harriet died, aged 3 years, 7 months and 13 days. There were, no doubt, victims of a disease, such as scarlet fever, which often snuffed out whole families of children during that time period.

The Vedder family, another old Glenville name, is represented by the headstone of Alexander Bovee, the adopted son of John and Eleanor (nee Van Eps) Vedder, who died April 12, 1850, in his 21st year.

Another stone, copied by the historian, was that of Angelica Van Eps, wife of John L. Van Eps and daughter of Alexander (J.) Van Eps, who died Sept. 2, 1825, aged 29 years, 2 months and 15 days. Next to her grave was that of an infant, marked only by two unlettered field stones set about two feet apart.

The finest cut stone was that for Eve (Yates), wife of Alexander J. Van Eps (sic.). She died April 9, 1840, aged 66 years, 1 month and 24 days.


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Irvin Van Epps is my great-grandfather.


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