History of the Warsaw Cemetery

Wyoming County NY

The "Warsaw Cemetery" is located on both sides of South Main (Route 19) in the Village and Town of Warsaw. The cemetery had its beginnings in 1804 after Elizur Webster purchased in 1803 land that would become Warsaw. As shown on the aerial map below, four parcels of land essentially comprise the "Warsaw Cemetery".

The "Pioneer Cemetery" is the oldest part of the "Warsaw Cemetery" and covers about two acres on the east side of South Main. About five acres nearly opposite the "Pioneer Cemetery" on the west side of South Main Street were added around 1850. A third tract adjoins the "Pioneer Cemetery" on its north side and is delineated by a vertical dotted line on the aerial map. Land south of the former caretaker's home is the fourth parcel.

Warsaw's first settlers had not chosen land for a cemetery. No doubt they were occupied with cutting timber, building log cabins and planting gardens. However, the death of Sterling Stearns' two-year old son in the spring of 1804 produced an urgent need for a place to bury the child. A few trees were cut away and a grave dug at about the center of what is now the old "Pioneer Cemetery." Having no lumber, the child's coffin was made from part of a wagon box. As it was a time of high water in the creek, the coffin was carried over the water on a log to the grave. In the fall of that same year, Nehemiah Fargo's young son who had drowned in the Oatka Creek was buried nearby. A third burial was that of Dwight Noble, the first adult to die in January 1807.

Over time many pioneers were laid to rest in the "old burying ground". There being no land available for expansion, the cemetery was closed in about 1850. The "Pioneer Cemetery" is maintained by appropriation from the Town of Warsaw and is often referred to as the "town cemetery". Records compiled in 1983 reveal more than 600 are buried there including approximately 200 in unmarked graves, about 130 of those Potter Field burials.

Probably anticipating the closure of the "Pioneer Cemetery", the community formed the "Warsaw Cemetery Association" which purchased five acres across the road in about 1847. Several thousand plots were laid out. Given Warsaw' dramatic population growth beginning in the 1870's and the increasing number of burials, the Association acquired more land across the road on the east side of South Main Street and South of "St. Michael's Cemetery". More recent burials may be found on a fourth parcel which is south of the former caretaker's home. Excluding the "Pioneer Cemetery", over 6,700 are buried in both sides of the road.