Shaeffer Cemetery was recently recognized with a historic marker funded by the William G. Pomeroy Foundation. 

The cemetery is located on the north side of Dysinger Road just west of Crosby Road. Samuel Shaeffer deeded a plot of land as a burying ground to trustees Ephraim Gregory, Jacob Kieffer and John Sanders on May 26, 1848. A couple months prior, his wife Sarah Jones Shaeffer passed away and was buried on the property. However, there are gravestones dating to 1830 and even earlier.  (Nancy B. Gregory’s grave indicates a death date in the 1820s.) 

The cemetery first appears on a map in 1875. 

While the cemetery is named after the Shaeffer family, it is not the original name. Initially, it was called Brooks Cemetery. Why Brooks? That is a good question since there is no record of any Brooks buried there. 

James Brooks (1783-1861) owned a farm on the southwest corner of Dysinger and Crosby roads, essentially across the street from the cemetery. Later, his nephew John J. Brooks took over the farm; however, both men are buried in Chestnut Ridge Cemetery. It is possible the cemetery was named due to its proximity to the Brooks farm. “The cemetery across from Brooks’ place” could have easily morphed into “Brooks Cemetery.” This is conjecture, of course. 

In the 1920s, the Shaeffer family proposed naming the cemetery after their relative, Samuel Shaeffer, the donor of the property, and offered to procure an iron fence demarcating the cemetery’s half acre. Their offer was accepted and from then on, it was called the Shaeffer Cemetery. Phonetically, at least. Orthographically, it was sometimes known as the Schaeffer or Shaffer Cemetery. No one could quite agree on how to spell it — including the cemetery association itself. 

The cemetery was formally incorporated on Nov. 3, 1924. 

Over the course of the 20th century, the cemetery association fell on hard times; in 1988 they stated they were “incapable of being financially self-sustaining.” By New York State law, ownership transferred to the town on June 27, 1990. 

Many prominent residents of the Rapids and Raymond areas of town are buried here, such as Edmund W. Raymond, namesake of the Raymond hamlet and road. Other early families buried here include: Bowen, Bugh, Cook, Dunkelberger, Goodlander, Goss, Gregory, Kieffer, Kinne, Preisch, Rankie, Sanders, Wertman, and Wichterman. 

There are a few Civil War veterans interred here.

— Newfane native John Gassaway (1843-1869) served as a saddler in the 7th New York Cavalry Regiment during the Civil War from Aug. 26, 1861 through March 31, 1862. Afterward, he married and settled in Lockport, but sadly, a few years later he died of typhoid fever. Two of his infant daughters are buried next to him.

— Private Jeremiah Russell (1843-1883) served in Company F of the 4th Michigan Volunteer Infantry. He was wounded at the Battle of Malvern Hill by being “shot through the neck and left shoulder producing partial paralysis of left arm.” He mustered out on Dec. 12, 1862 due to his disability. He must have recovered somewhat because he worked as a house painter for a number of years before becoming a butcher. He succumbed to tuberculosis and is buried in an unmarked grave.

— On July 28, 1863, Private William W. Wertman Sr. (1841-1904) enlisted into Company E of the 122nd Infantry, known as the Onondagas. He was wounded at the battle of Cold Harbor on June 1, 1864 and mustered out due to his wounds on Dec. 23, 1864. Five of his and wife Susan Kinne’s children are also buried here: Archibald, Bessie, Lillian, Maynard and Nellie.

— Asa J. Worden (about 1838-1870) was a musician in Company F of the New York 151st Infantry Regiment. While it may sound like an unlikely pairing, music and war have a long history. Music was a recreational diversion between battles and used as a form of communication at camp, as well as during battle. A Union army regulation required every infantry, artillery or cavalry to have at least two musicians. Worden was discharged at the rank of private in 1865.

— Private Jacob Vogle, also spelled as Vogel (1840-1874), served in the 11th Regiment, Pennsylvania Infantry from 1862 through 1865.

Please pay your respects to these men and all the people buried in Brooks-Shaeffer Cemetery. It is said you die twice, the second time being when your name is no longer uttered. Read their names, say their names, and acknowledge these lives. 

Thanks to the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, the cemetery and all the lives interred therein are being honored with the addition of a historic marker noting this early cemetery and the Civil War veterans laid to rest here.

• • •

The William G. Pomeroy Foundation is a private foundation established in 2005 to support the celebration and preservation of community history; and to raise awareness, support research and improve the quality of care for patients and their families who are facing a blood cancer diagnosis. Since 2006, the foundation has funded more than 1,300 historic roadside markers and plaques nationwide. Visit: www.wgpfoundation.org

Jean Linn is Lockport's town historian, as well as archivist and librarian at Niagara County Community College. You can reach her at jlinn@elockport.com or (716) 438-2159.

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