Wheatland Baptist Cemetery

Also known as: Belcoda Cemetery
McGinnis, Belcoda and Harmon Rds., Belcoda, New York

Oldest cemetery in Wheatland with a fascinating history

Photos 

Overview Looking North

Photo taken by J.R. Manning in September 2020

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Map 

Description 

This is the oldest cemetery in the Town of Wheatland, the oldest headstones are dated 1811. The site is mostly triangular in shape, about 3.4 acres and even though it is over 200 years in age, it is still accepting burials. There is a large family plot, surrounded by a contemporary iron fence, in the northeast corner of the cemetery.

Several historical plaques are located in the cemetery.

The cemetery contains the graves of several of the earliest European-American settlers of Wheatland, including Joseph Blackmer, Rawson Harmon and the Reverend Solomon Brown.

Joseph Blackmer (1767-1848) was a descendent of William Brewster of the Mayflower company, served in the Revolutionary War and relocated to Wheatland in 1808. He donated the land for the cemetery.

Rawson Harmon, a descendent of the first colonial Secretary of Massachusetts, volunteered with his father to serve in the Revolutionary War, and settled in Wheatland in 1811. Harmon was also a great-grandfather of Frances Folsom, who was the bride at the first wedding in the White House when she married President Grover Cleveland.

The Reverend Solomon Brown, another Mayflower descendent, was a Revolutionary War veteran and was ordained in 1791. After focusing his ministry on the organizing of new congregations in central and western NewYork, Brown settled in Belcoda as the first minister of the Belcoda church and master of the log school there.

THE "CULPEPPER CONNECTION"

The cemetery is associated with the town’s African-American community which dates from the period immediately following the Civil War. Captain Frank Harmon, raised in Belcoda, was stationed at Culpeper Court House, Virginia, where he encountered hundreds of recently emancipated former slaves who had no work or prospects for making a living. Mindful of the chronic shortage of farm laborers in his native Wheatland, Harmon recruited several of the men and arranged for them to be transported by train to Wheatland. This was the beginning of a considerable migration from Virginia to the Wheatland area. The African-American section of the cemetery is the largest and one of the earliest surviving tangible resources relating to this facet of the town’s history.

The information in the description was adapted from the National Register of Historic Places Registration Form prepared by Robert T. Englert, Historic Preservation Program Analyst of the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation, August 2005. A link to the document is listed below under "Sources."

The document contains much historical information about the cemetery and the Wheatland area.

National Register information 

Status
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on January 18, 2006
Reference number
05001536
Areas of significance
Exploration/Settlement; Ethnic Heritage - Black; Art
Level of significance
Local
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; C - Design/Construction
Property type
Site
Historic function
Cemetery
Current function
Cemetery
Periods of significance
1800-1824; 1825-1849; 1850-1874; 1875-1899; 1900-1924; 1925-1949; 1950-1974
Number of properties
Contributing structures: 2
Contributing sites: 1
Contributing objects: 1

Update Log 

  • January 26, 2021: New photos from J.R. Manning
  • January 26, 2021: Updated by J.R. Manning: Updated status, GPS coordinates, added description, and added photos

Sources