Niagara Gazette

Local News

April 15, 2014

Newfane cemetery investigation could lead to new life for site

A Niagara County Sheriff's sergeant responding to a complaint involving an old cemetery on Lake Road may have sparked an effort to restore the property.

Sgt. Aaron Schultz was contacted about the family cemetery by a Lewiston woman on Sunday who reported that she was driving by and noticed several trees cut down around the property. Checking the 40-by-50-foot cemetery, she found two trees had been cut down there as well.

The woman said her mother had obtained a court order in the 1970s preventing the then-owner from taking any trees down to maintain the integrity of the cemetery. The woman said one of her ancestors buried there is a War of 1812 veteran and they actually signed the Declaration of Independence.

The woman said the town of Newfane is in charge of the cemetery as far as maintenance. 

Schultz said he drove out to the site and saw that two trees had been cut down. He also said he noticed that the cemetery was in poor shape with black chained fence knocked over in spots and several wooden crosses and tombstones in poor condition. A sign at the cemetery stated that 1860 was the last year anyone was buried there.

Schultz spoke with a representative from a neighboring camp ground and he said the property around the cemetery has been owned by the camp ground for the past 10 years. He said a company had been hired to remove some trees around the site but was unaware any cemetery trees had been cut down. He also added the camp ground has been trying to take care of the cemetery site for the past three years.

A Newfane building inspector confirmed the town owns the cemetery property and he was aware that the camp ground had been removing trees.

Schultz also spoke with Rose Schaffer, the president of the Town of Newfane Historical Society. She said she had spoken to a family member about the cemetery as well and was researching it. She said she would help in any way with preserving and restoring the cemetery.

After informing the family member that no criminal activity had taken place, Schultz spoke with the camp ground representative again and he said they'd be more than happy with helping to restore and maintain the cemetery.

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