Warren County Historical Society Presents …
The Digital Version “REWIND”
December 1, 2015
Glens Falls Cemetery:
A Bay Street Collection of Celebrities
In 2014, Glens Falls City Historian, Wayne Wright, created a Self-Guided Walking Tour for the City’s Cemetery on Bay Street. The guide has been updated and expanded. A paper copy of the new guide can be obtained at the City Historian’s Office, in City Hall, for $5.00; you may also read the biographical information on the Cemetery’s page at Cityofglensfalls.com. For anyone who purchased the 2014 version and would like to trade it in on the new one, please bring the first one to the City Historian’s Office and obtain a new copy at no charge. The 2014 version had fifteen stops – the latest version has thirty-three.
The information that makes up each of the biographical sketches is a mixture of the information used by William Woodward to write the sketches used by the Chapman Historical Museum for its fall Cemetery Tours as well as research done by Wayne Wright. The photos from of the cemetery in the new guide were taken and edited by the City Historian. He also took the aerial photo on the back cover during a flight with David Alexander of Alexander Funeral Home in Warrensburg, NY.
The four biographical sketches chosen for this Rewind are favorites of Wayne Wright, Glens Falls City Historian.
Biographical Sketch # 1
April 6, 1848 – February 25, 1929
Plot 27 Lot 7 # 23
Byron Lapham, the son of Jerome and Hannah (White) Lapham, was born at the family home on Ridge Street, on April 6, 1848. He died on February 25, 1929 at his home at 6 Sherman Avenue in the City.
On September 5, 1870, Byron married Minnie S. Spencer, the daughter of Henry and Sara A. (Cool) Spencer. Minnie was born in Glens Falls in 1850 and died on March 6, 1908 in Altamont Springs, Florida where she had gone for health reasons; her daughter-in-law and husband were with her when she died. She is buried in the Bay Street Cemetery beside her husband, who didn’t die for another twenty-one years. Minnie was survived by her sister, Mrs. Marshall Kirkman of Chicago. Byron and Minnie’s son Walter died in 1907.
Byron’s obituary identified all the businesses that he owned and the Associations with whom he worked. Upon his death, his daughter-in-law, Nellie S. Lapham, and grandson, Byron J. Lapham, were the beneficiaries of his estate.
Byron Lapham Headstone
Byron Lapham’s Obituary from the Post Star on February 26, 1929:
Byron Lapham, President of First National Bank, Dies After Long Illness
Prominent Business Man was identified with Many Interests — Began Career in Grist Mill on Site of International Paper Plant
Byron Lapham, President of the First National Bank, and for many years one of the leaders in the business life of the community, died at 3 p.m., yesterday at his home, 6 Sherman Avenue, after an illness of more than a year.
Mr. Lapham was born April 6, 1848, the son of Jerome and Hannah Hoyt Lapham, at 48 Ridge Street. He attended the Glens Falls Academy and took a course in the Albany Commercial School in 1865 and 1866. After leaving the Albany school, he entered the employ of Augustus Sherman in a grist mill which stood on the present site of the turbine house of the International Paper Company in South Glens Falls. Later he bought Mr. Sherman’s interest in the business and operated it under the name of Lapham and Company. In 1890, Herman B. Parks became a member of the company and the firm name was Lapham and Parks until March of 1925, when Herman M. Parks, son of Mr. Parks acquired Mr. Lapham’s interest.
Mr. Lapham became a director of the First National Bank in 1891. He was elected Vice President in 1901 and President in 1906. He was also first Vice President and Director of the Glens Falls Portland Cement Company, a director of the Glens Falls Insurance Company, and director of the Standard Wall Paper Company until it merged with the United Wall Paper Company.
During the (first World) war he was chairman of the Warren County Home Defense Committee, a member of the Liberty Loan Committee and served on the Board of Directors of the Community Chest. He was a member of the Presbyterian Church.
Until the property was sold to the City and made a part of City Park, Mr. Lapham resided in the residence on Ridge Street now occupied by the library.
On September 5, 1870, Mr. Lapham married Minnie B. Spencer, daughter of Henry and Sara A. Spencer of Glens Falls. She died March 6, 1908. They had one son, Walter Jerome Lapham, born June 22, 1872. He died June 23, 1907. The survivors are a daughter-in-law, Mrs. Walter J. Lapham and a grandson, Byron J. Lapham.
The funeral service will be conducted Thursday at 3 p.m., at the home, with the Rev. Dr. John Lyon Caughey officiating. Burial will be in the Glens Falls Cemetery. The family requests that flowers be omitted.
Prepared by Wayne Wright Glens Falls City Historian from office files and newspapers. Questions and comments should be directed to the Glens Falls City Historian: City Hall, 42 Ridge Street, Glens Falls, NY, or firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 518-761-3871.
Sketch # 2
8/3/1831 – 9/2/1906
Plot 4 Lots 32 & 33 # 15
William McEchron was born on August 3, 1831 in Saratoga, NY (now Schuylerville) to David and Hannah Selfridge McEchron. He died on September 2, 1906 at the age of seventy five years.
In 1858, he married Sarah Elisabeth Carswell, who was born on November 15, 1836, the daughter of Daniel S. and Margaret Elisabeth Lytle Carswell. She died on September 13, 1920 at the age of eighty-three years. William and Sarah both died at the family home located at 59 Ridge Street (now 65 Ridge) in Glens Falls. William, Sarah and many family members are buried in the family plot in the Glens Falls Cemetery.
William McEchron started his working career in his early teens as a tow boy on the Champlain Canal. He spent many years working as a lumberjack in the Adirondack forest before coming to Glens Falls in 1863.
Their first home was a brick house on Elm Street where they lived until purchasing the Lewis Arms house on corner of Ridge and Maple Street. This home was built by Arunah Adsit and had one of the first bathrooms in the village. Mrs. McEchron loved the gardens on the property of the Ridge St home and turned them into a show place.
In 1889, William and Sarah commissioned the construction of a home as a gift to their daughter, Margaret, upon her marriage to Hugh Bowden. This house was built along Maple Street in the back gardens of the family home and was later to become a convent for St. Mary’s School nuns. William was so taken with the modern conveniences that were installed in the home that he decided to build a new home for the rest of the family. The new home at the corner of Maple and Ridge Streets was completed in 1891 and served the family well until Sarah’s death in 1920.
In a deed dated July 12, 1921, the daughters of Mr. and Mrs. McEchron transferred the house to the City of Glens Falls to be used as a Health Center and offices for organizations that provide charitable services to the residents of the Glens Falls area. The City Health Department moved from the second floor of City Hall to the house in November of 1921, with the City providing basic maintenance for the property until it was sold in 2012. It is currently (2015) the home of Morgan & Co. Restaurant.
When Sarah and William moved to Glens Falls, he was offered a partnership with James Morgan in the company Cheney & Arms. They operated limestone quarries in South Glens Falls, loading facilities on the canal, and lumber mills along the river. For a short time, the firm was known as Morgan & McEchron. Following Mr. Morgan’s death, William became head of the Morgan Lumber Company and Glens Falls Paper Company in South Glens Falls. Eventually, he sold these companies to the International Paper Company.
Mr. McEchron served in many volunteer capacities during his lifetime including membership in the Methodist Episcopal Church, a charter member of YMCA, First National Bank Board of Directors from 1868 and as President for last six years of his life. He was a member of the Board of Directors of Glens Falls Insurance Company from 1886 until his death, and a Village Trustee from March 1871 through March 1874 with a second year as Village President.
His main achievement during that time was the startup of the village water supply that is still in use today. In 1874 he served as President of the Village Fire Department. He was also a member of Glens Falls Academy board from 1895 – 1899. The last project in which he was involved was the construction of Christ Church; however, he didn’t live to see it completed. His wife and daughters donated money for the completion in his name. The addition to the YMCA building on Glen Street that housed the pool and gym among other things, were a gift from Sarah and their daughters after his death as well.
One of the largest projects that William undertook to provide a better life for Glens Falls residents was the construction of the Glens Falls Home for Aged Women on Warren Street. In 1899 the Glens Falls Home was established on the William McDonald homestead with the assistance of Mary Conkling the owner of the home at that time. In 1903, the new building was dedicated with a brass plaque being mounted on the wall on the front porch thanking William McEchron for his generosity in providing the new building. He was very upset and asked that the plaque be taken down. At his request, it was taken down and placed in storage until after his death. Then it was replaced on the wall. This is one example of the McEchron family’s generosity towards the community that they called home.
The McEchron family grave stone at the Glens Falls Cemetery. Photo by Wayne Wright, Glens Falls City Historian
The book “Homely Recollections” was written about William and Sarah McEchron’s life and times, by their granddaughter, Katherine Bowden Cunningham, in 1962. Her memoirs tell the story of the role the McEchron family played in this community: with the YMCA, the Glens Falls Home, First National Bank of Glens Falls and the Glens Falls Water Works. The City Historian’s Office and the Warren County Historical Society has copies of this book available for sale.
Prepared by Wayne Wright, Glens Falls City Historian from information in the historians files.
Sketch # 3
Ephraim B Potter
10/06/1855 – 11/05/1925
PLOT 30 LOT 1 # 27
Ephraim Potter was born October 6, 1855 the son of Ephraim B and Electa Seymour Potter, and he died on November 5, 1925 in the Glens Falls Hospital. He had a brother Olin and sister Gertrude who are buried on the same cemetery lot with him. Ephraim and Olin lived with their mother after the early death of their father (in his 40’s). Gertrude married and moved out of the family home to start her own family. The Potter’s lived on Elm Street where Ephraim’s brother died at age 33, and his mother Electa, became despondent and soon died, it is said of a broken heart.
After the death of his mother and Olin, and with Gertrude making a family of her own with her husband William and son Victor, loneliness overtook Ephraim. Ephraim met and married Isabel Crosbie who was 16 years his junior. She was born in New York City. They married in 1907, Ephraim, 52, and Isabel, 36. They opened a boarding house on Glen Street in the house that is still called “the Sherman House” at the Corner of Glen Street and Sherman Avenue. It was not the best of relationships as Isabel became tired of running the boarding house and the number of boarders dwindled from ten to one: Cora Seeley, who stayed with them for ten years. Ephraim was so busy he failed to see the problems at home.
Ephraim had learned the art of carpentry and engineering from his father who was a millwright and builder. He had worked with his father and at age 30 had decided to branch out and become an architect and landowner with all kinds of properties in the City that were rented, even the Boarding House.
Ephraim became an outstanding architect who designed many of the beautiful buildings in Glens Falls. His style, called eclectic, has stood the test of time and remains what makes Glens Falls beautiful. Most of his buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places. The Madden Hotel, the Morrison Shirt Factory, the Bemis Apartment Buildings on Sherman Avenue, and the old High School on Glen Street are his designs, with the magnificent Fowler Building downtown being his favorite. He was one of many architects that worked on the Empire Theater on South Street.
He designed houses for the rich and even built what he considered a perfect house at 36 Sherman Avenue for he and his wife to live in.
Ephraim B. Potter Headstone. Photo by Wayne Wright
One chilly day in November 1925, Ephraim was doing errands and riding his bicycle on South Street when he was hit by a mail truck and died instantly. He had just turned 70 the month before. He was quite a successful man. The New York Times named him one of the wealthiest men in Northern New York.
In his will, Ephraim left all his property to his sister Gertrude, except for the 36 Sherman Avenue house that was Isabel’s to live in. He also left her enough money to live on. After Isabel’s death in 1956, that property also went to Gertrude. It known today as the Glens Falls Bed and Breakfast. When Gertrude died in 1959, her net worth was over a million dollars due to Ephraim’s efforts.
Prepared by Mrs. Kyle Graves from a theatrical script written by William Woodward for the Chapman Historical Museums fall Glens Falls Cemetery tour in 2011 and information from the City Historians Files.
Sketch # 4
James Huyler White
June 28, 1836 – July 2, 1916
Plot 1 Lot 39 # 17
James Huyler White was born in 1836 in Greenfield, Saratoga County, and moved to live between Glens Falls and Lake George at the age of 14. His father was the proprietor of the Half Way House on the Plank Road, mid-way between the villages.
At age 20, James was apprenticed to a carriage maker to learn the trade. He found that he was suited for the business and was able to make enough money to take a wife. When James met Edward Joubert, a fellow worker at the carriage business, he was introduced to Joubert’s sister-in-law, Susan. They were engaged and eventually married in 1861.
James and Susan resided at 10 Jay Street in Glens Falls. Unfortunately, they lost two children at very young ages. Their son James Beecher was born in 1887 and their daughter Charlotte was born 11 years later.
James and his friend and brother-in-law Edward Joubert grew tired of using their minds and talents to benefit someone else. When James finished his apprenticeship in 1864, the two formed their own their company, Joubert and White Carriage and Sleight Makers. They opened in a building at 33-35 Warren Street with but $50.00 of borrowed capital. They had that building moved down Warren Street to the corner of Jay Street.
They worked slowly, making quality buckboards and carriages. They hired a staff and perfected the comfort level of the carriage. In 1880, they patented the Glens Falls Buckboard. The suspension was a unique, side spring system supplemented with boards one inch by six inches running from axle to axle giving a very soft ride.
By 1897, they were able to build a new building four stories high with 50’ frontage and 150’ deep at 45 – 47 Warren Street. They produced 45 types of carriages holding from two to eight passengers. Their carriages were very expensive, ranging from $500.00 to $1000.00 each, while the average mail order buggy at the time was $50.00 to $75.00.
They were visited each summer by the rich and famous. Patrons would leave the great spa and races in Saratoga Springs and venture up to look at and buy the latest models. In one month they would see the likes of the Tiffany, Rockefeller, Astor, Carnigie and Vanderbuilt families as well as foreign dignitaries and, of course, the rich and famous from Lake George. They continued to make buggies right through 1916.
James grew old in much grief. His daughter Charlotte had started a promising life. She studied vocal and instrumental music in Paris, France, and after her return, she had married local merchant Sterling Higley. She died in 1908 at age 36. His son, Beecher, had studied Homeopathic medicine in New York City, and was Superintendent of Public Documents in Albany for two years, but returned to work the family business in 1897. Before the business could be turned over to him, Beecher died in 1911.
James White is remembered as saying:
“I scarcely believe, even in ages to come, that this noble race, the horse, will be wholly outdone by any contraption of man’s ingenuity; but while autos and motors have a legitimate claim, horses and carriages will be used just the same as before the death dealing devices were thought of. There is room, room for both in this rich land, and until we note a decline in demand for buckboards of superior merit, we shall turn them out with no fear of a rout by the grim-visaged gasoline spouters.”
Prepared by Mrs. Kyle Graves from a theatrical script written by William Woodward for the Chapman Historical Museums fall Glens Falls Cemetery tour in 2004.
Susan and James Huyler White’s gravestones in the Bay St. Cemetery. Photo by Wayne Wright, Glens Falls City Historian
Article prepared by Wayne Wright, Glens Falls City Historian, from office files and questions and comments should be directed to the Glens Falls City Historian: City Hall, 42 Ridge Street, Glens Falls, NY, or at email@example.com, or call 518-761-3871.
The following information was found in the Warren County Historian’s office:
HISTORY OF GLENS FALLS CEMETERY
In 1853 the electors of the Village of Glens Falls authorized the trustees to
purchase a suitable plot for a cemetery. $1500.00 was allowed for the land, grading
and fencing. As a result, about 13 acres was purchased from Andrew Porteus of
Queensbury for $1000.00 and work began. The Glens Falls Cemetery has been added
to seven times, the last addition in 1973, and is now around 32 acres.
The first burial in the new cemetery took place in 1855 however there are many burials
marked with dates prior to 1855. These are a result of graves being moved into the
cemetery, most of which came from the disposition of the West Street Cemetery in the
There are over 14,700 burials here, with the older sections in Victorian style with
some fancy funerary art. Some notable burials here are many Civil War veterans
including Medal of Honor winners Franklin Johndro and George Merrill. The last Pony
Express rider "Bronco" Charlie Miller, the Russell Little family, founder of the
Glens Falls Insurance Co., and several of its' early presidents. Other notable people
here are the Finch and Pruyn families of the paper mill fame and many lumber barons
such as William McEchron, Jones Ordway and Augustus Sherman. Others include Harry
Elkes, world champion bicycle racer around 1900, Dr. Edward Bemis who ran an eye
clinic here around 1900, Charlotte and Louis Hyde of the Hyde Collection art museum
and the DeLong family whose home is the Chapman Museum. There are other prominent
Glens Falls families here as well. Many Glens Falls street names appear on monuments
in this cemetery. It is now the only cemetery in the City of Glens Falls other than
the burial site of Henry Crandall and his wife in the park named for him.