Wednesday, December 9, 2009

History of Site of the Original Bovina Associate Presbyterian Church and Cemetery

In reviewing my October blog, I noted that I promised to share some of the information I provided during the celebration of the Bovina UP Church's Bicentennial. I'm a bit late doing so, but if anyone noticed, they didn't say. The following was provided on the program created for the Saturday, October 10 events during the Bicentennial celebration.

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In 1815, the Associate Presbyterian congregation in what is now Bovina built its first church and established its first cemetery on about an acre of land. On May 10 of that year, the congregation erected a simple building 36 feet by 30 feet with a gallery. A cemetery grew around the building immediately, with the first burial, that of Adam Scott, taking place that same year. It is possible that burials took place even before then, as some records indicate that Moses Burns, who died in 1811, is also buried in the churchyard (though the grave has no stone).

Eighteen years later, in October 1833, this triangular piece of land was legally conveyed to the congregation by Francis Coulter. Coulter was leasing the land from the Livingston Family, as were most Bovina farmers. For $15, he sold his rights to the land, while the congregation committed to continue paying rent on the acre at a rate of 18 bushels of wheat per one hundred acres.

The building was used by the congregation for 34 years before a newer and larger church was built in the hamlet of Bovina Center in 1849. In the early 1850s, the church was dismantled, with the frame donated to the what we think was the Delancey Presbyterian congregation, though there still is some debate about whether it went to Delancey or Hamden (and I'm still working on this issue).

Burials continued in the original graveyard even after the move to the new church, but in 1852, the congregation purchased two acres on Coulter Brook for a cemetery. There is evidence that some graves were moved from the ‘old’ graveyard to the newer one but burials continued in the old one until 1893, when the last three burials (Anna Graham White, James Thomson and Jennette Black Thomson) took place.

Other burials in this cemetery included many of Bovina’s original settlers: William Ormiston (1779-1864) and his wife Jane Graham Ormiston (1784-1856), and the original owner of the property, Francis Coulter, along with his wife Nancy Glendenning Coulter and his father-in-law James Glendenning,

Also buried in this cemetery are a number of people closely connected to the Associate Presbyterian Church. Original members Isaac Atkin (1763-1844) and his wife Jennett Wilson Atkin (1764-1848), Walter Doig (1767-1839) and his wife Elizabeth Murdock Doig (1766-1843), John Elliott (1774-1841) and his wife Christina Mabon Elliott (1782-1831) and Thomas Hamilton (1774-1853) are all buried here. Also buried in the cemetery, only feet away from where he preached, is Reverend Robert Laing (1750-1839), the Associate Presbyterian congregation’s first pastor. The gravestone was added 20 years later, purchased by the congregation.

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