For some time there have been ongoing negotiations attempting to return the Old County Cemetery, located between Whallonsburg and Wadhams on Route 22, back to Essex County ownership. In 1985, the cemetery was sold as part of a larger piece of property to a private owner.
Recently, a deal has been reached and the Old County Cemetery has been returned to Essex County:
“Following the [Essex County] board’s official stamp of approval, Old County Cemetery owner Ruth Morgan inked a deal with the county on Friday, Feb. 6 to sell the two-acre property for $9,000. The county must now survey the parcel, which contains 378 known graves, and apply to both the Adirondack Park Agency and the town of Essex for subdivision permits.” (Denpubs)
Some History of the Cemetery
The Old County Cemetery was originally created for use by the Essex County Poor House (built 1832) which after many years transformed into the Old County Home and Infirmary. It provided government support for paupers, failed farmers, orphans, itinerant workers, and the mentally ill (Valley News). When residents died they were buried across the road in the Old County Cemetery.
The facility closed in the 1970s when County Services transferred to the Horace Nye in Elizabethtown, NY, and the cemetery ceased to be used.
Although some care-taking has been done over the years at the cemetery by the owner(s), by volunteers who had been granted permission to upkeep the grounds for a period of time, and by the Town of Essex which had been mowing twice per year as part of a state law permitting towns to maintain abandoned cemeteries, the cemetery has need for some repair.
Some of those who desired the Old County Cemetery to return to the County “have said they would like to erect a fence, flagpole and other measures, including bringing the 378 known plot markers up to ground level” (Valley News). They consider it their duty to caretake the final resting place of those who once lived in the County Home. With the sale of the cemetery to the County they will now have their chance.
- Battle for Old County Home Cemetery rekindled (valleynewsadk.com)
- No decision on Old County Cemetery issue (valleynewsadk.com)
- Deal tentatively reached on Old County Home Cemetery (valleynewsadk.com)