History

The complete history of our cemetery is a bit of a mystery.  We have very little evidence documenting the actual growth of the cemetery upon the ground that it now occupies.

What we believe to be the beginnings of the Ballston Spa Village Cemetery comes from the Centennial History of the Village of Ballston Spa by Edward F. Grose. Mr. Grose relates the history of churches in the town and village.  Regarding the village Baptist Church, he states that ‘Elias Lee as early as 1800 had purchased the land now comprising the village cemetery”.  He continues with “In 1802 the church was incorporated under the laws of the State, and the following year Elias Lee made a gift to the church a large lot, and a meeting house was erected. It stood in the northeasterly part of the present village cemetery a little north of the public vault”.  We assume that the meeting house (church) was erected in 1803 and that burials of Baptist parishioners took place on this same property.[1]

Another piece of our history puzzle also comes from Mr. Grose’s book.  This passage relates to the creation of a burial ground for village Catholics.  Referring to the Rev. Father Peter Havermans; “June 2nd, 1840, he purchased from Samuel Hides a plot of ground on Ballston Street, adjoining the village cemetery on the south, for a burying ground, and it was consecrated with the customary rites of the church”.   In the mid 1860’s St. Mary’s Church purchased the land on Church Avenue as a burying ground.  Care of the old Catholic cemetery was assumed by the village cemetery in exchange for the remaining unused graves.  This section is referred to in our records and maps as the Old Catholic Cemetery or ‘OCC’.1

The oldest sections of the cemetery border the west side of Ballston Avenue.  These sections (with the exception of OCC) are referred to as ‘Horton’s Field’.  James W. Horton was very well respected citizen of the village.  He was County Clerk for nearly forty years.  Somehow Mr. Horton came into possession of the acreage surrounding the original lot donated by Elias Lee.  He then started selling burial lots thus expanding the cemetery.  Since we cannot find any written history of how this property came to belong to James Horton, we can only speculate the he purchased it as a business venture.

Expansions to the cemetery happened over several decades.  A narrow strip of land directly adjacent to the north was added at some point.  Continued growth of the cemetery occurred to the west and southwest until we have our current acreage.  Several years ago, Donald Stewart of Stewart’s Ice Cream fame donated a parcel of land directly behind our maintenance (office) building.

We are constantly researching and soliciting information on the transactions that assembled the parts into the cemetery as a whole.  If you have, or know of documentation or information that you believe would help, please contact the Ballston Spa Cemetery Association.  Hopefully some day we will have a complete written history of the Ballston Spa Village Cemetery.  We are afraid that as more time passes, the less chance of finding our pieces of history.


[1] Centennial History of Ballston Spa by E.F. Grose