The Old Burying Ground
Oak Orchard, which had been a landmark of inland transportation for almost a
century, now became just another overgrown patch of farmland in a region that began to
emerge from wilderness to settlement and agricultural production.
Not much is yet known of the history of Oak Orchard during the first half of the
19th century. Deeds are sporadic and maps are inadequate to reconstruct the
development of the parcels along Wood Creek that were subdivided from the original
lots of the Wood Creek Reservation.
But by the closing days of the Civil War, considerable development had occurred
here. An extensive "burying ground" had developed on the sandy hill, one or two
houses were occupied in the immediate area, and a lane ran from Wood Creek Road to
a saw mill that had been constructed on the south bank of Wood Creek north of the
cemetery. Known as "Patrick's Mill," this industry appears to have been connected by
a woods road along the east side of Beaver Brook to another mill north on Teelins
The mill appears to have ceased operations before the end of the century, but
some timber remains possibly associated with that mill may still be seen eroding out of
the stream bank at the northwest corner of the Oak Orchard site.
The 20th century has seen the site become integrated into a single family,
agricultural complex. Slowly the low field stone markers and simple headstones of the
old burying ground, still known a half-century ago as "Oak Orchard Cemetery," toppled
and disappeared under the weeds and sod. This historic site, which had served as a
landmark to so many explorers, traders, soldiers, and travelers for over 200 years, had
slipped into obscurity.
Access and Preservation
We are indeed fortunate to have re-discovered this virtually forgotten fragment of
our past. It is part, not only of the history of the Town of Verona and of Oneida County,
but of the early development of transportation routes across New York that were of
We can stand here once again and imagine the hundreds of boats and thousands
of people who have passed this historic landmark in the wilderness - pursuing new lives
in the west, rushing to secure our tenuous military hold on our frontiers, exploring new
lands for future settlement, or carrying profitable cargoes to and from Schenectady.
The excitement of history comes alive in the actual places where history was
created, and the preservation of these places and their natural settings is an opportunity
to perpetuate this sense of excitement.
There is still much we can learn from Oak Orchard. Much of the original site is
now occupied by the old burial ground. This place, which holds the earthly remains of
some of Verona's earliest pioneers, is itself of historic interest. The cemetery now falls
under the jurisdiction and protection of the Town of Verona. The continued
maintenance of the burying ground and associated historic sites is a volunteer project
carried out by the Verona Historical Association in conjunction with the Town of
The surrounding lands are privately owned and the landowner has graciously
provided an easement for purposes of access to the cemetery and the historic area.
Continued access depends on all visitors respecting the site and the owners' rights.
- feel free to visit the site.
- take nothing but pictures.
- leave nothing but footprints.
A map of the general area. (60KB)
A detail of the location.(60KB)
A sketch of the site.(60KB)