Cemeteries of Backbone Ridge

Collection Owner:
Cover Image:
volunteer cleaning gravestones, 2013
Volunteers Cleaning Gravestones in Burge-Velie Cemetery, 2013 - Image Source

Collection Facts


Historical Context

The area between Seneca Lake and Cayuga Lake now a part of the Finger Lakes National Forest, New York State's only national forest, was once a bustling farmland in the 19th century.  It was known as Backbone Ridge and included parts of Schuyler County, Seneca County, and Tompkins County.

Decades of intensive agriculture depleted the soil and made the farms untenable.  In the 1930s during the Great Depression, the United States federal government bought out the farms in this region and helped interested residents move, all part of a New Deal program called the Resettlement Administration.  

Many small cemeteries and family plots were abandoned as part of this resettlement.  Local volunteers came together to restore and document the graves found across the area.  

Scope of Collection

Transcriptions of gravestones, photograph, and maps of cemeteries in the Backbone Ridge.

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