By Capt. Franklin Ellis217
There are four cemeteries in Copake. They are called town cemeteries, and a sexton is appointed for each ground at the annual town-meeting. The first record of these appointments is found in the year 1836, when it was "voted to have a grave-digger appointed at each burying-ground, and paid by the town." The meeting then proceeded to appoint the grave-diggers, and fix the amount they were to receive for their services on each occasion, as follows, viz.: At the "burying-ground near Peter Miller's," John F. Brusie, fee $1; at the "burying-ground at Presbyterian meeting-house," Philip I. Lown, fee $1.37½; at the "bury-ground near Christian Niver's," David Taylor, Fee $1; and at the "burying-ground near David Williams'," Thomas Williams, fee $1; and a tax of $50 was voted for expenses of grave-digging. The first of these, and also the oldest one, is more commonly known as the Copake Flats burying-ground. It is situated in the lot of the Methodist Episcopal church. It contains about two acres of ground, and is quite full of graves. Many of the stones and monuments are costly and of fine designs. The ground, however, lacks the symmetry of arrangement, the walks and drives, and the results of care and labor that ought to characterize our cities of the dead. The earliest date on any of the tombstones is borne by a slab of gray stone, the inscription on which reads as follows, viz.: "Abraham Spoor, died Oct. 23d, 1757." Among the other early graves (nearly all of which are marked by smooth slabs of black slate more or less elaborately carved) are found the following: "Gashe, wife of Mr. Abraham Spoor, died May 3, 1777, in her 63d year;" "Arnaut Viele," and "Catharine Van Keuren, " in 1776; "Francis Brusie, " in 1780; "Elizabeth, wife of Wilhelmus Viele," in 1785; "Isaac Spoor, Esq.," in 1789; "James Robison, who fell June 2, 1791, by ye accidental discharge of a gun. Aged 51 years;" "Nicholas McArthur," in 1793; "Silence Lawrence," in 1795; "Rebecca Lott," in 1793; "Eleanor Brusie," in 1794; "Andrew C. Brusie," and Cornelius Brusie," in 1795; "Catherine Brusie," "Nicholas C. Brusie," and "Christina, wife of Ephraim Race," in 1796; and "Abraham A. Decker," in 1797.
The second ground is now known as the "Lyall burying-ground," and is located near the Reformed Protestant Dutch church in the western part of Copake. It received this name from the "Lyall church," so called after the Rev. William Lyall, who was its pastor for many years, and now lies buried in this cemetery. He died May 6, 1868, aged seventy years. This ground contains but one stone that antedates the present century. It is that of "Elizabeth, wife of Abraham Commer," who died March 22, 1794, aged thirty-four years.
The third ground is pleasantly located a half-mile west of Craryville, It is called the "Niver burying-ground." There is but one stone dated before 1800 the inscription on which can be deciphered. This is evidently the grave of some member of the Whitbeck family, the inscription being, "------. E. W. BORN GUNE 1 1752 DIED APRIL 10 1785." There are several old slate slabs, the inscriptions on which have been effaced by the waste and wear of the elements.
The fourth ground is a small one located in the northeast part of the town, and called the "Williams burying-ground."