Sterl Elwin Saylor, Elmiran and World War II casualty


, ,

Every few years we get a request from France for information on an Elmiran killed in World War II. Today’s request comes from Reynald near Dieppe, Normandy, France. He is looking to create a history file for Elmira native Sterl Elwin Saylor, born 20 JUL 1922, and pronounced dead 28 APR 1945 after a year of being missing after his plane was shot down over France. His remains have never been recovered.

The history file Reynauld is hoping to create will be submitted to the town hall nearest the crash site, so French citizens and visitors can know the story of the young Americans who died in the war.

Sterl Elwin Saylor was born in 1922 to Sterl Saylor and Marion (Lake) Saylor of 114 W. Miller St. His father served in the army in World War I. In addition to little Elwin (as he was called), siblings Charles, Irene, and Elaine completed the family. In 1930, little Elwin won a prize for most unusual pet, and he was pictured in the newspaper with a picture of him with his pet rat “Whitey” on his head.

Elwin was supposed to be in the 1940 Southside High School graduating class, but his picture does not appear in the yearbook. Another news article listed him as a 1938 graduate, but I couldn’t find him in that year book either.

He enlisted in the Army Air Corps on July 2, 1941. Stateside, he was stationed at Miami Beach, Scott Field, IL, and at three places in Florida: Avon Park, Medill Field, and Tindall Field.

By January 1944 he was overseas, stationed in Northern Ireland and then England before fighting over France. He served as a radio operator and gunner with the 9th Bomber Command.

He was pronounced missing in action on April 27, 1944.

After he was declared missing, his mother, Marion (Lake) Saylor, enlisted in the WAC. His father, Sterl A. Saylor, who had served in WWI, expressed that he wished he could re-enlist himself. Mrs. Saylor had been thinking about enlisting in the WAC for some time, and the news her son was missing spurred her into action. The newspaper say that she was a war worker before enlisting in the WAC. Starting as a Private first class, She was honorably discharged in 1846 with the rank of Corporal. After her discharge, she planned to work at the VA Hospital. She always had hope her son would be found. Even after he was declared dead in 1945, her article when she was discharged still listed him as missing.

Unfortunately, his body was never found, and he was officially declared dead in 1945. Before he went missing, he had completed 16 missions before he was shot down over Dieppe, France.

I am still looking for a picture of Elwin to be able to send to the French researcher. Elwin’s siblings as adults were Irene Hooey, Elaine Tompkins, and Charles Saylor.

If anyone sees this who can help me out, please contact Maggie at the Steele Memorial Library in Elmira, NY.


Chemung County Honor Roll: World War I Casualties.


, ,

This list was published in the Elmira Star Gazette on October 11, 1922.

WWI Victory Arch, North Main St, Elmira, NY.

Indigenous People’s Day 2022



Chemung County sits on land that intersects with the aboriginal homelands of the tribal nation of the Haudenosaunee and Algonquins. I acknowledge the tribal nations on whose lands we are situated.

To acknowledge the importance of Indigenous People’s Day, we are sharing some local resources to help educate us more about the Native Peoples of North America.

Two museums are located just a stone’s throw from our county.

Ganondagan: Seneca Art & Culture Center.

7000 County Road 41, Victor, NY


Ganondagan has exhibits, walking trails, a Seneca bark longhouse (open seasonally), as well as being the host of the Native American Winter Arts Festival on Saturday, December 3rd, 2022. They also have links on their website about the Iroquois white corn project, “The mission of the Iroquois White Corn Project is to encourage Haudenosaunee farmers to grow the corn and for people in our communities to eat it for more than just special occasions or ceremonial use, making it something they eat every day,” – Jeanette Jemison (Mohawk, Snipe Clan), Friends of Ganondagan Program Director.

The Seneca Iroquois National Museum

82 W Hetzel St
Salamanca, NY 14779
Phone: (716) 945-1760.

The Seneca-Iroquois National Museum proudly houses an extensive collection of Hodinöhsö:ni’ historical and traditionally designed decorative and every-day-use items and archaeological artifacts. SINM, along with the Seneca Nation Archives Department, are the safe keepers of historical documents, including articles, special publications, historical and family photographs and various multi-media productions regarding the Onöndowa’ga:’ and Hodinöhsö:ni’.

The Native Nations Festival in Painted Post has already come and gone for 2022, but you can find upcoming Pow-Wows and Native events on .

The Red Dress Project

Have you seen red dresses on hangers hung on trees or outside? You have witnessed the Red Dress project. The Red Dress Project, started by Jaime Black, “focuses around the issue of missing or murdered Aboriginal women across Canada. It is an installation art project based on an aesthetic response to this critical national issue. The project has been installed in public spaces throughout Canada and the United States as a visual reminder of the staggering number of women who are no longer with us.” More information can be found at .


NYHeritage [] is a collection of primary source materials related to the history of New York State. I found some images relating to indigenous people by searching “indigenous peoples” in the search bar.

Ojibway – unfinished birch bark canoes
Tinted photo of two unfinished canoes on land in front of a rustic shelter. Image shared courtesy of
Palisades Interstate Park Commission.

Your Local Library

Finally, an easy way to learn more is to read more. The local public libraries offers a great many books on Native American people and culture throughout our extensive library system. Search our online catalog, the Starcat, and find a book anywhere in the Southern Tier Library System. Sign in with your library card, and place it on hold for pickup at your preferred library. Here is the link:

Elmira Policeman passes after 37 years on the force 100 years ago today.

Star Gazette (Elmira, N.Y.) 28 May 1921, Saturday, Page 15.
Policeman Dan Dillon Dead; Served Thirty-Seven Years
Faithful Elmira Police Officer, Who was Retired on Pension in 1917, After Having Performed His Duties in Faultless Manner, Dies at His Home.
“Daniel W. Dillon, one of the oldest and most efficient members of the Elmira Police Department for a period of 37 years, died last night at the family home, 509 East Market street, after a brief illness.

Mr. Dillon was born in Ireland and came to Elmira when a young man. he was appointed to the police department October 16, 1880, and known as one of the best athletes in the police department in those days.

On several occasions Mr. Dillon had use for his running abilities in the performance of duty.

Mr. Dillon was a lover of animals. He owned fine horses and dogs, in addition to some valuable farm stock. The decedent possessed a kind and sympathetic nature and enjoyed the friendship of a large circle of friends.

Mr. Dillon was placed on the pension roll of the police department February 15, 1917, since which time he had passed his time at the family home. Members of the police department sincerely mourn his loss. The decendent is survived by his widow. The funeral will be announced later.”

His widow, Hannah Noonan Dillon, was also an Irish immigrant. She passed away in 1939. The couple had no children. Both Daniel and Hannah are buried at St. Peter and Paul’s Cemetery in Elmira, N.Y.

509 East Market St (1921 Home of the Dillon Family) Elmira NY today

Early Classmates of Elmira Schools Part 2: Pennsylvania Avenue School 1945-1951


, , , ,

Continuing our look back at Elmira graduating classes, please enjoy these photos of 8th grade graduating classes from the original Pennsylvania Avenue School in Elmira.

Pennsylvania Avenue School was built in 1898 and closed in 1961 when the Broadway School was opened. (The Elmira City School District was formed in 1957). According to news reports*, the building’s owners included Chemung County and Olthof Funeral Home. The building was eventually torn down. Its address was 1018 Pennsylvania Avenue, which places it at the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and Hazel Street, across the Street from Olthof Funeral Home.

1018 Pennsylvania Avenue, Elmira NY.
Pennsylvania Ave. 8th grade Class of 1945.
Pennsylvania Ave. 8th Grade Graduating Class of 1946.
Pennsylvania Ave. 8th Grade Graduating Class of 1949.
Pennsylvania Ave. 8th Grade Graduating Class of 1950
Pennsylvania Ave. 8th Grade Graduating Class of 1951

*1. Elmira Star Gazette 29 Dec 1999 page 2. Elmira Star Gazette 28 Dec 2003 page 24. Elmira Star Gazette 13 Nov 1991 page 7.

Early classmates of Elmira Schools Part 1


, , , , , , , ,

Graduation season is upon us! It has long been a time of celebration, new beginnings, and most importantly, class pictures. This week we’ll be sharing class pictures we have found. Below, please enjoy class pictures of Elmira graduates from years past. Pictures are from 1927-1942. Who knows, maybe you’ll find an ancestor or two among those smiling young faces!

The 1929 graduating class of SS Peter and Paul’s Parochial School.
Thomas Grady, David Jenkins, (Ann Cochran), William Griffin, Rita O’Leary, Mildred Lewis, William ___, Jeanette Kruger, ___J. Lee, Rita Byrne, Francis Jake____, K_______ K_______, Joseph (Flanagan), Alberta ____, Robert Gerald, J___ Webster. Source: []

Part 2 of The Brave Black Regiment: Elmira’s Civil War Veterans in the MA 54th Infantry.


, , , , , , ,

“I know not where, in all of human history, to any given thousand men in arms there has been committed a work at once so proud, so precious, so full of hope and glory.” -John A. Andrew, Governor of Massachusetts 1861-1866.

Did you know in 1863, a group of African American men from Chemung County walked to Boston, Massachusetts in order to enlist in the army and fight for the Union? They fought in the Civil War as part of the Massachusetts 54th Infantry, the first official regiment to allow African American men to enlist in the North. It was the second regiment of African American men, following the successful formation of the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry Regiment,

The 54th Regiment gained fame when they fought in the battle of Fort Wagner in South Carolina. Half of the Union soldiers who fought that day perished in the battle. IN addition to fighting in the war, they also had to fight against reduced wages paid to them by the Union, and they began refusing their reduced wages as a point of honor. On February 20, 1864 at the Battle of Olustee in Florida, the 54th Regiment, the train full of wounded soldiers carrying them away from the battlefield broke down, and the wounded were in danger of being captured by the Confederates. The 54th Regiment attached ropes to the engine and pulled the train to safety at Fort Finnegan, where they picked up some horses to help, and then on to Jacksonville. It took forty two hours to pull the train about 13 miles.

Sketch, “The 54th Mass. Pulling Train of Wounded,” from artist’s sketchbook featured in documentary “The True Story of ‘Glory’ Continues.” 1991.0279.08.

Of the 24 Chemung County Men who served in the 54th during the Civil War, 10 were killed, 4 were wounded, and 1 was a POW. That leaves only 9 local men of this Regiment who escaped the war physically unscathed. Though they fought for their country and for freedom, it would be another hundred years before it became officially illegal to discriminate against people due to the color of their skin. Today the struggle to eradicate racism continues. For historians and genealogists, part of that struggle lies in finding and lifting up the stories of those who served and struggled. In the first article I wrote on the 54th, I researched four Chemung County men who served in this regiment. To read their stories, please visit PART 1. Today I look for and try to find the stories of more of these men. Read their stories below.

Members of the U.S. Colored Infantry line up at Fort Lincoln, Washington, D.C. (111-BA- 1829). “The Revolutionary Summer of 1862.” National Archives and Records Administration, National Archives and Records Administration,

George N. Addison: born 1837 in Elmira, NY. He worked as a barber and was married, though I do not as yet know his wife’s name. He enlisted in the 54th MA Infantry, Company E, in Readville, MA on 29 March 1863 as a private. He passed away on August 26, 1863 in the hospital on Morris Island, South Caroline from Pneumonia. His pension file number is 232772.

U.S., Colored Troops Military Service Records, 1863-1865. Accessed via Ancestry Library Edition through the CCLD.
Civil War – Union – MA 54th Infantry Regiment Records – Volumes 7 & 8 – Company Morning Reports, Co A-K – Page 356. Accessed 2/1/2022 via FOLD3.
Civil War – Union – MA 54th Infantry Regiment Records – Unbound Records – Letters and Telegrams Received – Page 350. Accessed 2/1/2022 via FOLD3.

Henry F. Stewart: Henry was 19 years of age when he mustered into the MA 54th, Company E, at Readville, MA in March 1863. He was single, and worked as a barber in Horseheads, NY. The 1860 Census lists him as being from Pennsylvania originally, and living with Alexander & Maria Thompson. Henry Stewart mustered out of the army on August 20, 1865. He was wounded on November 30, 1864 at Honey Hill, South Carolina.

1860 United States Federal Census for Henry Stewart
Civil War – Union – MA 54th Infantry Regiment Records – Volume 6 – Company Descriptive Books, Co E-G – Page 14
Civil War – Union – MA 54th Infantry Regiment Records – Unbound Records – Annual Returns of Alterations and Casualties

I haven’t been able to find records for Henry Stewart after the Civil War. However, I was able to learn that Alexander Thompson, in whose house Henry lived before the war, also joined the army. In December 1863 he mustered into the 26th Colored Infantry. Alexander is in the New York State 1865 Census, reunited with his family after the war, but Henry is not listed in his household. Alexander was also at the Battle of Honey Hill where Henry was injured.

New York, U.S., State Census, 1865 for Allexand Thompsen
New York, U.S., Town Clerks’ Registers of Men Who Served in the Civil War, ca 1861-1865. Accessed via Ancestry Library Edition through the CCLD.

I found an entry for Alexander Thompson on He passed away December 29, 1888 and is buried in Maple Lawn Cemetery in Horseheads, NY.

The Battle of Honey Hill was in Jasper County, South Carolina and took place on November 30, 1864. It was the 3rd battle of Sherman’s March to the Sea and Union troops were predominantly African American fighting against the Confederate Army. The Union sustained heavy losses.

Plan of the Battle of Honey Hill. November 30, 1864.,0.331,1.804,0.916,0

William R. Brown, born 1837 in Seneca County, NY, mustered in to the 54th on April 8, 1863. He died in the Hospital in Charleston, South Carolina on March 25, 1865 of Typhoid Fever. He is buried in Woodlwan Cemetery, Elmira NY. He left behind his wife, Georgeanna Brown. She and William were married in Elmira on August 12, 1862. In 1865, her widow’s pension states that she lives in Horseheads, NY.

William H Brown in the New York, U.S., Registers of Officers and Enlisted Men Mustered into Federal Service, 1861-1865 accessed via Ancestry Library Edition through the CCLD.
Widow’s pension file for Georgeana Brown

I will continue to research the lives of the Chemung County men who served in the Massachusetts 54th. In the meantime, below is a complete list of the local men who served.

– List of Chemung County Men in the MA 54th Infantry –

Memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts Fifty-Fourth Regiment, 1884 – 1897. Detail of African-American soliders. Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848 – 1907). Plaster original,[1] National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C..

REFERENCES Editors. “Black Civil War Soldiers.”, A&E Television Networks, 14 Apr. 2010,

“54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.” WikiTree,

Fonvielle, Chris E. “‘Welcome Brothers!” The 1865 Union Prisoners of War Exchange in North Carolina.” The North Carolina Historical Review, vol. 92, no. 3, 2015, pp. 278–311. JSTOR, Accessed 20 May 2021.

“The Civil War.”  The Civil War,

“History of the Fifty-Fourth Regiment of Masachusetts Volunteer Infantry, 1863-1865 : Emilio, Luis Fenollosa, b. 1844 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming.” Internet Archive, Boston, The Boston Book Co., 1 Jan. 1891,

“54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.” WikiTree. Accessed February 2, 2022.

Elmira, 1884: Katie Bredehoft was Murdered


, , , , ,

On Saturday, January 5, 1884, a man driving on Bancroft Road passed a lone pine tree. Underneath he found a small figurine of a bright red bird. Near the bird it looked like someone had fallen, and tracks that looked like a woman’s.

On Sunday, January 6, two boys playing north of Woodlawn Cemetery discovered a woman’s body frozen in the middle of a stream.

Sunday Morning Tidings (Elmira NY) 13 Jan 1884, page 5.

“Just north of Woodlawn Cemetery is a short road connecting what is known as Carr’s Corners with Davis Street, the junction of the two thoroughfares occurring immediately in front of the State reformatory. About halfway between the two points, the road, known as the Bancroft Road, crosses a small stream fed by a spring. This same stream passes through the cemetery, and emerges at a point on Davis Street, near the plot where the Confederate dead lie buried. The stream has worn a considerable gully where it cuts through the Bancroft road and a rude bridge, made of square timbers laid across the stream, resting on stones poled up without mortar, with three inch planks for the floor, has long been a familiar landmark in that locality. The bridge is about 12 feet across and about twenty feet wide. The floor of the bridge is high enough from the water to allow a man to stand up beneath it. The bridge cannot be seen until within about 150 feet on each side of it, owing to the impression in which it rests. It is the most lonely spot in the County of Chemung. Not a house is visible from the bridge,and it is just the dismal spot would would select to hide a dark and bloody deed.

Sunday Morning Tidings (Elmira, NY): 13 Jan 1884, page 8.

The mysterious girl was identified as Miss Gaskell of Watkins Glen. She had been seen arguing in Elmira with Michael Hatchett a few nights previous. The paper reported that she had not been seen since last Sunday. Her father was in Elmira looking for her. Mr. Hatchett said he had been very intoxicated and couldn’t remember anything about the evening.

Lancaster Intelligencer (Lancaster PA): 09 Jan 1884, page 6.

Other reports, however, showed that Miss Gaskell was alive and well. In fact, she personally emphatically denied that she had been murdered. The young woman’s identity was still a complete mystery.

The Evening Telegraph (Buffalo, NY) 8 Jan 1884, page 1

The frozen body was photographed and put on display in the morgue in hopes that someone could identify her. Hundreds of local residents came to view the body.

All through the week a cold form has been lying in one of the wards of the city hospital, a woman’s form; not that of a beautiful, fine featured maiden whose face is a challenge for love and admiration, but common-place creature clad in ordinary garb, knowing no one as a friend. Yet, through all these days, a great interest has been attached to the dead stranger. She has been visited by thousands and talked about by ten times as many more. She is the victim of a foul murder…The lonely spot was one little frequented by human beings…

The New York Times (NY, NY) 9 Jan 1884, page 3

Mrs. Lizzie Kelly, a saloon keeper at 1105 Davis Street, saw the body on display and remembered the girl as one who had visited the saloon on Friday evening, January 4. The girl had been with a young man and they had spoken German most of the time they were there. At one point, however, the man asked Mrs. Kelly in English, if “Norton still lived up the way.” Norton was a local farmer who often employed men who had been recently released from the Elmira Reformatory. Mrs. Kelly was able to describe the young man who had been in her saloon.

The Elmira Police Chief and Reformatory staff read Mrs. Kelly’s description in the paper and from that they were able to identify the man as William Menken, a former Elmira prisoner and worker on the Norton farm during his parole. They quickly called their counterparts in law enforcement in New York City and spoke to the police officer who had arrested Menken for burglary in 1880. Because he was known to police, they were able to quickly apprehend him at his sister’s house in Brooklyn where he had sought refuge while planning to flee to Germany. He had a large amount of money and distinctive jewelry in his possession. The jewelry matched the Elmira saloon-keeper’s description of what the girl was wearing. He was extradited back to the Elmira area for trial. If William Menken hadn’t asked Mrs. Kelly about Mr. Norton, it is likely that he never would have been apprehended.

Sunday Morning Tidings: 13 Jan 1884, page 5
Sunday Morning Tiding: 13 Jan 1884, page 5.
Sunday Morning Tidings: 13 Jan 1884, p. 5

But how did they identify the young woman? By studying her clothes, detectives determined they were of a kind that was only sold in New York City. They tracked the clothing and shoes to shops on 3rd Avenue in Manhattan. That information plus a physical description of the girl was enough to lead them to Mrs. Listman of 89th St. She had employed a German girl who had gone off with a young man to be married in Baltimore during New Years. Mrs. Listman was able to identify the jewelry as belonging to her employee, a German immigrant named Katie Bredehoft. Detectives then found Katie’s sister, Mary, also a domestic servant in New York City, and brought her to Elmira in hopes of identifying the body. Mary came to Elmira and was able to identify her sister, Katie, as the murdered woman.

Katie’s history: The Sun: January 12, 1884, P. 4

Katie’s Funeral: The German Evangelical Church wanted to give her a Christian burial. They formed a special committee, the German Sangerbund, to raise funds for a funeral and a headstone. The funeral was held on January 20, 1884 at the German Evangelical Church and Katie was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, 100 feet from where she passed away from this earth. She was laid to rest accompanied by the singing of German Hymns in a plot picked out by her sister, Mary. Local Liverymen donated carriages to convey the the procession to the cemetery. The Sangerbund committee did not disband after this, but instead stayed in existence for many years to aid people in need.

The place of her service — Elmira Star Gazette: November 12, 1914

On March 20, 1884, Menken was found guilty of Katie’s murder. His lawyer appealed and got a stay of execution and a change of venue for the trial. The new trial would be held in Broome County.

November 14, 1884: Menken was moved to Binghamton for the new trial. He was found guilty again and scheduled to be executed on January 21, 1885. His lawyer appealed again. Menken escaped from jail. He was discovered by Amos Livingston, a farmer in Owego. Menken had been hiding in the hay. Livingston alerted the authorities and was re-captured. He undergoes a third trial and is found guilty a third time and again is given the death penalty.

Menken’s escape. Sunday Morning telegram (Elmira, NY): July 5, 1885 p.8
The barns and residence of Mr. Amos Livingston. Menkin was discovered in the larger of the barns. They can be plainly seen from the windows of the D.L.&W. cars. The Sunday Morning Tidings (Elmira, N.Y.): January 25, 1885 page 4

July 2, 1885: William Menken’s execution date. He was hanged without further incident save a self-serving confession and degrading language towards women also imprisoned in the jail. His body was buried in Binghamton Cemetery.

But that wasn’t the end of the story. There was the unfortunate matter of the bill. After the hanging, Binghamton presented a substantial bill to Chemung County. A year later, the Ithaca Daily Journal published article stating that since Menken was a parolee at the time he committed the murder, the State of New York was responsible for the bill of his imprisonment and execution, as well as the $500 reward for his capture. The NYS Comptroller refused to reimburse Chemung County because the charges listed by Broome County were excessive. But, strangely enough, that’s not the end of the story either…

Menken’s travels were not over when he was executed. His body still had far to go and more things to do. After Menken was executed, his brain was harvested and sent to Cornell University to become part of the Wilder Brain Collection.

His glass eye was saved and was put on display in Binghamton Police Headquarters in 1929.

Elmira Star Gazette: October 4, 1929, page 3.

Binghamton Cemetery, where his body was buried, was closed in the late 1880s. In 1907, his body was exhumed and moved to Glenwood Cemetery in Binghamton, NY.

Finally, while researching this story, I came across some tales of a song widely sung in New York State in the late 1800s and early 1900s. It is a murder ballad and might go by the titles: The Ballad of Bancroft Road, The Tragedy of Bancroft Road, or “The Tale of Katie Bradhoff.” Partial lyrics were published in the Star Gazette over the years, but not the whole song. A man named Professor Joseph Hopper from Corning, NY was known to have sung the song in the area into the twentieth century. But inquiries to the Library of Congress and the Cornell Music Library have turned up nothing more then what I was able to find in local newspapers. Here is what I have found so far:

Way down in New York City a place you all know well, there lived a pretty German girl whose name I soon will tell…He took her to the Bancroft Road, a fit place for his game. He dealt her two most cowardly blows, and cast her into the stream… The final verse is “Kind friends, you’ve heard my story, the rest you all know well. Now, this poor girl lies in her grave, and he — in a prison cell; But now he’ll get his just desserts, As you may all expect: He’ll die upon the gallows, with a rope around his neck.

According to a commenter on a blog post about the murder called Murder by Gaslight, “it included an admonishment from Katie’s landlady on 89th St. that “all that glitters is not gold.”” The author of the blog responded to the commenter asking for the complete lyrics, but a response is not posted. So if anyone knows “TheBigD” on, please send them this article and ask them to contact Maggie at the Steele Memorial Library in Elmira, NY.

External Links:

Wilder Brain Collection:

Katie Bredehoft’s Burial Information:

Old Second Street Cemetery Elmira NY: Map of lots with lot owners


, , , ,

The Old Second Street Cemetery is in the middle of downtown Elmira, near a bustling grocery store, a landmark diner, and the historic Near Westside Neighborhood. Its graves contain many of the early settlers of Elmira and Revolutionary War veterans. Many Elmirans will remember meandering its paths on the way to Elmira’s shopping district.

Due to years of neglect and vandalism of the stones, a tall wrought-iron fence now protects the cemetery from daily wear and tear of passers-by. This makes it hard for researchers to find the graves of their family members. A recent trip to the Chemung County Historical District uncovered maps of the cemetery, with the plots neatly outlined, listing the names of their inhabitants, and a list of plot owners as well.

Used with permission of the Chemung County Historical Society, the Chemung County Library District is thrilled to offer these up to you, the genealogy researcher and family historian. We hope these images, along with links to useful information about this historic cemetery, can help answer questions in your family history research.

Links to Old Second Street Cemetery information:

Find a grave:

Tri-Counties Genealogy (Joyce Tice):

The Steele Memorial Library also has a print list of the Second Street Cemetery. Information regarding this title can be found HERE. Please come by for a visit or contact the Genealogy Department at the Steele Memorial Library for help regarding this title.

Image used with permission of Chemung County Historical Society.
Image used with permission of Chemung County Historical Society.

Images used with permission of Chemung County Historical Society.

Timeline of Elmira’s Early Cemeteries


, ,

  • 17?? – 1802: Legend has it that the first burials here were placed at Water and Sullivan Streets in Elmira. If true, the bodies were never removed and are still there.

    Levy, Benjamin F. “Historical Sources for Jewish Heritage in Elmira.” [Talk given on 4 Jan 1934]., The Arts Council of the Southern Finger Lakes,

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is clip_88561996-1.jpg
    Elmira Star Gazette: November 1921.
  • 1802: Jeffrey Wisner gives the land now known as Wisner Park to the City. It is the only burial ground in the city for over 30 years. It as also known as the Baptist Burying Ground. The first burial is that of Dr. Joseph Hinchman. Born in Jamaica, he came to Chemung County in 1785 and settled in Newtown in 1793.

    Elmira Star Gazette. November 12, 1921, page 2.
    The find-a-grave page has 52 entries for burials at this cemetery
    Elmira daily advertiser. volume, April 19, 1876, Page 4, Image 4 []

    The Wisner Park Cemetery reference book is available for viewing at the Steele Memorial Library. Click HERE for a link to the record in our catalog.

    More information can be found on the Wisner Park Burying Ground online via this link:

  • 1838: The Second Street Cemetery is created and is the city’s burial place for 20 years.

    An excerpt from the Star Gazette (November 12, 1921: image below) describes how 2nd St. Cemetery used to look, with a circular drive through its middle and wide gates as a carriage entrance. The land was once part of the Michael Black farm. Following are pictures of Second Street Cemetery in the 1950s. The last picture of the Second Street Cemetery Sign is circa 1977. Except where noted, All images provided courtesy of the Chemung County Historical Society.

    Old Second St. Cemetery []
    Elmira morning telegram. volume, October 04, 1885, Page 4, Image 4 []

    Find-a-grave also has a page devoted to the Old Second St. Cemetery. That information can be accessed here: []

    Images shared with permission from The Chemung County Historical Society.

  • 1850: The Catholic Cemetery is built on Franklin St., making the St. Peter and Paul’s Cemetery. Prior to this, Catholic burials were around St. Peter’s and Paul’s Church.

    Aerial Photograph of St. peter and Paul’s Cemetery, used with permission from Chemung County Historical Society.
    Sections of St. Peter and Paul’s Cemetery, Franklin St. Elmira NY.
    St. Peter and Paul’s expansion. Image used with permission from the Chemung County Historical Society.

  • 1858: Woodlawn Cemetery is created. Col. John Hendy’s body is moved from Wisner Cemetery to Woodlawn, making him the first burial at Woodlawn Cemetery. John Jones did the reburial of Col. Hendy’s body. Col. Hendy stood at 6 and a half feet and had long white hair down to his shoulders. When the body was transferred, the hair was still intact. John Jones held it up to admire it and gently set it down on Hendy’s skull before the casket was closed for the final time.

    Elmira Star Gazette. November 12, 1921, page 2.
    Entrance to Woodlawn Cemetery, Elmira NY.
  • 1875: The newspapers start notifying citizens of Elmira that bodies will be removed from Wisner Park Burying Grounds and moved to Woodlawn.

    Elmira daily advertiser. volume, October 08, 1875, Page 5, Image 5 []