Fall 1996

Home Index Museums Blog Authors Site Map About


A Cemetery Frolic

Local history project with fourth graders

at the Wheatland-Chili Central School in Scottsville, NY


Barbara Chapman

I have been busy since last October working on research for a project the Wheatland Historical Association did with the fourth graders at school. We called it "A Cemetery Frolic." The students visited a local cemetery last fall and got names from gravestones of Wheatland pioneers. They studied eight different families, using published local histories and primary source materials from the local history libraries in Scottsville. Teachers and librarians helped the students continue their research through the school year.

Our "frolic" took place on June 6. We had a beautiful sunny day at the Garbutt Cemetery on Union Street in Wheatland. The fourth graders (about 100 of them) were seated on the grassy slope above a bit of a plateau we used for a stage. The audience stood below. The students sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" and their alma mater's song, and selected groups read the reports they had written about the eight different Wheatland pioneer families.

Tables had been set up with displays of the students' written reports and some artifacts that have been passed down through the generations of the families who first settled Wheatland.

We were fortunate to have a sampler that was worked by Hannah Reed in 1817. She was a daughter of William and Elizabeth Garbutt Reed, who were both original settlers of Wheatland. There was a tureen with the inscription "Reed-Garbutt Scottsville, NY" on the bottom, a candlestick originally owned by the Wells family, and china from the Lacy family. We also displayed copies of old photographs of the families. The artifacts that were displayed had not been collected by the children, but were items owned by the Wheatland Historical Association and its members.

Our program included remarks by Shirley DiStefano of the Wheatland Historical Association, Herb Carlberg, Supervisor of the Town of Wheatland, Michelle Adair, president of the Wheatland-Chili Central School Board, and myself.

When the program was over, the fourth graders and their guests enjoyed cookies and punch and had time to explore the cemetery together.

Reporters from TV station WOKR and local newspapers covered the event. All in all, the project seemed a great success. The best part has been the feedback we have had from people in the community. Many have commented about how interested the school children seem to be in the history of the area. Parents tell us that their sons and daughters quote historical facts in conversations and point out local landmarks they see from their car when riding together.

We have been gratified by the degree of interest and excitement about local history that the project has generated, and feel we accomplished our purpose.

I have chosen some excerpts from the children's reports and have copied some of the original drawings that the students did.

© 1996, Barbara Chapman

In the process of doing research for his report, fourth-grader Dan Magill discovered that he is related to one of Wheatland's pioneer families. His report was about the McVean family who originally came to the area from Perthshire. Scotland, in 1796.

When Dan read his report at the "Cemetery Frolic," he quoted this newspaper clipping:


The marriage of Miss Sarah H. McVean to Dr. Joseph Warren Magill, a rising young physician of Fairport, yesterday afternoon, at the residence of the bride's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Julian McVean in Wheatland was one of the notable social events of the season.

The wedding had taken place on September 12, 1889.

George H. Smith

George Smith was born in Massachusetts on 1756. He settled on lot number forty. He settled in 1810 in Wheatland. George lived on a road that was later called Smith RDÉ

by Heather, Sean and Tom

George Goodhue

George Goodhue was born March 20, 1769. George married Lois Herod.

George Goodhue came here from Braddocks Bay in 1800. He came by sled drawn by oxen and he crossed the Genesee on the ice. He cut down wood from the trees and built a rude bridge. When they came here they brought their 6-month-old daughter named Myra. Suddenly a chunk of ice broke off with the sled on it and started down the river. Their daughter Myra was in the sled. Then George cut down a tree and it fell on the chunk of ice and he climbed on the chunk of ice and he saved his daughter.

Sarah, Tracy, and Kelly

George had two sons and eight daughters. Both of his sons, John and George W., served in the War of 1812 and their names are on the Memorial Wall in the Scottsville Library.

John, Bruce and Christina
CLR Blog | Site Map | Contact CLR