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Purdytown Cemetery

Elder William Purdy (Pastor of the Baptist Church of Palmyra Township) and Silas Purdy settled in the Wallenpaupack Valley in the second wave of settlement in the 1780s.

Starting in 1810 the Purdy family buried their family members on small knoll looking out to the east about 100 yards from the Wallenpaupack River. A small stream ran along the north side down to the Wallenpaupack, about 35 feet below. The spot was a very nice location for a peaceful graveyard. Unfortunately, it was also going to be about ten feet under the waters of Lake Wallenpaupack.

Pennsylvania Power and Light Company petitioned the courts in 1924 to move the cemetery as part of the Lake construction. Part of the application was a map of the present and proposed location of the cemetery. They were granted permission, and they hired George Teeter to move the remains from the cemetery to a location on higher ground at the back of the Purdy farm.

Originally they thought there were only about 20 graves in the cemetery. However, as Teeter worked he found 54 graves. He  documented everything he found and the new location (see map) where he interred the remains (see a copy of the list he made here). After 1926 the cemetery was mostly ignored. Some of the neighbors would clean up from time to time, and the VFW kept flags on the graves of several veterans (including Silas Purdy).

Title to the cemetery passed through several paths to the Society. Marshall Purdy's three daughters retained half interest in the cemetery when they sold the farm. One of them died intestate and her interest passed to her sisters, one of who sold her half of the half interest to the Pennsylvania Realty Investment Company. Pennsylvania Power and Light transferred title to most of the uplands to its subsidiary Pennsylvania Realty Investment Company, including the unspecified interest in the cemetery. When PRIC was dissolved, all its remaining assets, including the unspecified three-quarters interest in the Purdy cemetery transferred to PP&L (the predecessor to the modern PPL Electric Utilities Corporation). One quarter of the interest in the cemetery still rests with the heirs of Sylvester and Emeline (Purdy) Swingle.

In 2010 PPL not only transferred title to the cemetery to the Society, they also donated money for the restoration of the cemetery.

Charles McGinnis and Mark ODell purchased the upland portion of the Purdy farm from Pennsylvania Realty and Investment Company in 1954. They developed the property into Sandy Shore development. Their standard lot size was about 100' by 100'. The Purdytown Cemetery lot stayed with the developers until they sold all remaining lots (including the 100' by 100' lot surrounding the Cemetery) to George Canova. Unknown to Mr. Canova, he still held the title to the land surrounding the cemetery in 2010. He and his wife Joan graciously donated their interest in that land to the Wallenpaupack Historical Society.

With a grant from PPL the Society contracted to have the trees that were hazarding the cemetery removed. With additional money from multiple private sources, our volunteers led by Bob Ammon completed the restoration and improvement work, including resetting the stones, landscaping and building a stone wall to mark the historic portion of the cemetery. On 12 October 2013 with the help of the Honesdale Chapter of the DAR, we held a re-dedication ceremony. You can read the program from the ceremony here (the file is rather large).

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Last update: 3 March 2014