Historical Notes
The Old Church Burying Ground
Morris, New York
Copyright January 1999 - Janet L. Washbon
(displayed here with permission from the author)

The Old Church Burying Ground in Morris, NY is located about three-quarters of a mile east of the village of Morris on Pegg Road north of State Road 23. The burying ground is on the site of Harmony Church, the first Episcopal church in the Butternut Valley. Although Episcopal services had been held in homes in the area since 1778 and Gen. Morris attended the General Convention in 1793 as a delegate from the parish, formal incorporation did not occur until 1797 (Otsego Co. Incorporations, Book A, pp. 4-5). In August 1800, the parish purchased two acres of land on which a wooden church building had recently been erected from William Cooper for the sum of one hundred cents (Otsego Deeds, Book C, pp. 129-131). The site of the church on an early highway on the east side of the Butternut Creek appears to have been chosen to facilitate attendance by persons from the three major concentrations of parishioners located in Noblesville (New Lisbon), Butternuts (Gilbertsville), and Maple Grove as well as those in the Louisville (Morris) area. A much small number of additional parishioners were drawn from farmsteads in the surrounding towns of Pittsfield and Laurens.

The wooden church building was abandoned in 1818 with the construction of a stone edifice for the parish in the rapidly growing village of Louisville (Morris). With the construction of the new building in the village, the congregation assumed the name of Zion Episcopal Church. After the congregation occupied the new building in Louisville, the unconsecrated building that had housed Harmony Church was removed from the site by H. T. McGeorge in partial payment for the construction of the new Zion Church building. The church retains title to the burying ground and is responsible for its upkeep. Information about many of the burials after about 1839 are available from the parish records of Zion Church (Harmony Parish Records; Zion Parish Records).

The Old Church Burying Ground was directly across the lane from the farm of Andrew Cathcart, a protestant Irish immigrant from the Enniskellen area of County Fermanagh. Cathcart, a Justice of the Peace, was responsible for surveying much of the area now included in Town of Morris and one of the prominent members of Harmony Church. A rendering of his original 1811 plat map of the Hillington Tract indicating the location of Harmony Church hangs in the offices of the Otsego County Registrar of Deeds in Cooperstown. The first recorded burial in the cemetery dates from 1805 and was that of Margaret (Brown) Cathcart, daughter of John Brown of Albany and Cathcart's first wife. Cathcart himself died 1836 in Brownville, Jefferson Co. NY at the home of his son John and is buried in a Brownville cemetery.

Although the burying ground was established by Episcopalians, it eventually came to be used by persons other denominations as well. In April 1821, the Zion Church wardens had a four foot high fence of stone, post and board constructed around the burying ground (Harmony Parish Records). The burying ground continued to be used by families with ties to the Morris area through 1950, long after the establishment of the Victorian Hillington Cemetery on the southeast edge of the village. The burying ground also contains monuments and possibly the remains of early settlers of the Maple Grove settlement in the Town of Morris who were originally buried in a cemetery to the east of Maple Grove.

Harmony Church Burying Ground list.
Otsego County Cemetery Index Page
Otsego County Home Page