Reflections

by Ed Hughes

On a June Day

Johnwebsite

As he rode his lawnmower cutting the new grass at the Jonesville Cemetery, John Davey waved at me as I looked at my daughter’s marker and reflected on our family’s decision to select this spot as our final resting place. It was a sunny, sad, June day.

In his dark, funereal overcoat back in February, John had assisted at Sue’s funeral; now in a light jacket and a cap, he was caring for the cemetery as he does each day. John is the superintendent, a mild man with kindness in his face, a hardy smile and with sensitivity for those whose loved ones are here. He greets everyone who has entrusted him with the perpetual care of this place, and respects our time for reflection when we visit.

John’s father and mother, Jack and Georgia, had taken care of the cemetery in the 1960s before John, and are buried here. Vernon (“Duke”) Wood had been superintendent before Jack in the 1940s and his father (Roland Wood) had done so in the 1920s; they are here. John’s wife Norma, a soft-spoken, graciously welcoming and empathetic woman who serves as the secretary/treasurer of Jonesville Cemetery Association assumed the responsibilities from Georgia (John’s mother). Norma’s father, Milton Hatlee, and his father, Charles Crayford Hatlee, had all been directors of the association; they are all here.

John continues mowing and, later with Norma, trims around each marker dating back to 1799. This is more than a cemetery. This is John’s and Norma’s perpetual love and commitment to their families and my family and to all who rest in this quiet place on this sunny, sad, June day.(EH)

Inscription on gravestone of Caroline Culver who passed on April 21, 1867 at the age of 19:
Goodby dear friends. Meet me in Heaven.

Touching the Past

The car pulled up in the cemetery on a hot August afternoon. The extended hand and smile from the woman from NYC was followed by pages of researched information on her GGGrandfather who had purchased a family plot in this Jonesville Cemetery for $10 in 1879. All that remains on the site today is a broken headstone for Eliza, daughter, who had died when she was 15 years 6 months old. The woman and her husband get down on the ground and run their fingers over the stone, brushing away some soil, trying to read faint lettering from a verse from a poem or scripture. Why only one gravestone in a plot which clearly shows burial of perhaps six people? How had the stone been broken? We stand there looking at the site and the cemetery. She expresses her appreciation for showing the site and sharing some information with her. She and her husband drive away, satisfied, having touched history and recalled an event over 100 years ago when a Grandfather grieved the loss of his daughter.(EH)

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Vernon “Duke” Wood

The Clifton Park Town Board holds its meetings in the Wood Room, named after a former Town councilman/employee and a superintendent of the Jonesville Cemetery from the 1940s – 1990s.

Hardly a day goes by that someone doesn’t say, “When Duke was here, he would say, ‘This is not our money–it belongs to the lot owners and we need to be very cautious.'” Today’s lot owners should be reassured that this philosophy is almost a mantra of the Association.

Duke’s wife, Ruth Tanner (Tanner Farm on Tanner Road) kept the books in perfect order through those years. Her family, as well as Duke’s, are buried in the cemetery.

Duke retired from GE and had a small insurance business. He became involved with Jonesville because his father had been the previous cemetery superintendent.

No one doubted Duke’s judgment on how the cemetery should be operated. Each day he would drive through the cemetery and focus on what needed to be done to improve the appearance and the efficiency of operations.

His knowledge, commitment, and legacy remain strong for those who worked with him and who are now in charge of the cemetery.(EH)