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GOSPEL HILL CEMETERY

Colt Station Road, Harborcreek Township, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Photos and commentary by Charles A. Bliley, August 2011

Contents

  • Location of the Cemetery
  • Description
  • Index of the Graves
  • Quick Photo Tour of Grounds
  • History of the Cemetery
  • Cemeteries with other family burials
  •  LOCATION OF THE CEMETERY

    Roadside Sign

    This cemetery is located near 4056 Colt Station Road, on the northern end of the Behrend College campus of the Pennsylvania State University in Erie. The photo to the left is looking north on Colt Station Road (PA Route 430) about a mile from the brick farmhouse my great grandfather, Charles A. Bliley, built in 1875.

    Access is only practical from a footpath from a college parking lot on the adjacent property north of the cemetery. For aerial photo and directions, look at Google Maps.

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     DESCRIPTION


    The cemetery is one and a quarter of acres in size and surrounded by a decorative iron fence that was recently installed. (Circa 1990) To the right is a view of the cemetery looking to the Southwest from a corner near Colt Station Road. Only a few of the head stones remain. The Rees family is located with the small fenced area. The Bonnell plots are located to the west of the Rees plot and in the next row closest to the viewer. None of the headstones have legible markings with the names of Bonnell. Here lay the remains of William Edson (the stepfather of Mary Jane Mead Bliley), and her mother Elizabeth Bonnell Edson and 12 Bonnell relatives.

     

    Rees Plot

    South View Near Rees Family Plot
    Enlargements:
    Low Res. (50 kb)
    High Res.(480 kb)

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     INDEX OF GRAVES

    The cemetery was indexed by a group of Harborcreek Historical Society volunteers in 1996: Kathy Schroeck and Lois McClimans, with the generous assistance of Debbie Lyon, the town historian from nearby Wesleyville. At the time of the survey, the graveyard was in a bad state of repair. Most headstones missing and many of those that remained were damaged or well weathered. Below are links to Xerox copies of their report. The pages have been cropped to eliminate excessive white space. All pages are printed on 8.5 x 11 inch paper. Click on each image or title to view a larger image.



    Introduction

    Plot Plan

    Index-Page 1 of 2 

    Index-Page 2 of 2



    Rows 1 thru 4

    Row 5

    Row 6

    Row 7


    Row 8

    Rows 9 and 10

    Rows 11 and 12
     

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     A QUICK PHOTO TOUR OF THE GROUNDS

    In 2005, I made a visit to the cemetery with family members shortly after the Harborcreek Historical Society finished renovating the grounds. Most of the following photos were taken on that May day. Headstones in the photos are a mixture of family members and others.

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     HISTORY OF THE CEMETERY

    1831 Establishment

    Gospel Hill Cemetery began in 1827 with the first burial. In 1831, the property was formally designated as public burial ground or cemetery through the transfer of one and a quarter acres from the properties of Newman Wadsworth and Clinton George. Three trustees were named: Newman Wadsworth, Thomas Bunnell, and William May. The deed is typical of legal documents of the day, and measures 22 x 17-1/2 inches when unfolded.

    1831 Deed Photo Gallery

    1922 Renewal

    In 1922, the property was in a state of great neglect and a petition was presented to the Court of Erie County to reappoint new trustees as the original three had died. The petition was prepared by my grandfather, Frank Anderson Bliley, who was born Harbor Creek born and living in Erie, and was a lawyer specializing in real estate transactions. His brother, Wilfred Bliley, was formally the petitioner who worked the old family farm less than a mile down the road. Three new trustees were appointed at that time: William H. Crabb, Jr., Robert A Tuttle, Clarence E. Sewell--two of which had family members buried in the cemetery.

    For the 1922 petition for new trustees, Frank presented a complete text transcription to the court of the 1831 deed and indenture. All of these items are available for viewing online and as downloadable PDF files. Due to the legal jargon and writing style, no editorial changes were made to spelling, grammar, or punctuation. At the end of the online text version of these documents is a brief glossary of unusual legal terms.

    1922 Petition with 1831 Deed Transcription

    Third Generation Trustees

    In 1996 responsibility for the cemetery was given to the Harborcreek Historical Society through Court of Common Pleas, Erie County, PA Judge Michael Joyce. The society officially assumed responsibility for GHBG on October 17, 1996. The fence surrounding the cemetery installed in the 1990s does not enclose all of the cemetery land, just the part with internments.

    The Deed Gifted to the Harborcreek Historical Society

    On August 22, 2011, Charles A. Bliley donated the original 180-year-old deed to Gospel Hill Cemetery to the Harbor Creek Historical Society (HHS). Presenting the deed and 1922 trustee appointment papers to the HHS were the grandsons of those involved in the 1922 petition. The 1831 deed has been deacified and temporarily protected between two sheets of Plexiglas and is quite good shape.

    Present at the transfer were:

    • Louise Smerick -- HHS board member
    • Cam Stadtmueller, HHS Secretary (not in photo)
    • Richard C. Bliley -- Grandson of Wilfred Bliley, the second-generation trustee appointed in 1922.
    • Charles A. Bliley -- Grandson of Frank Anderson Bliley, lawyer and brother of Wilfred, who prosecuted the petition through the Court in 1922 to appoint a new trustee.

    Deeds

    1831 Deed & Indenture (L)
    and 1922 Petition for New Trustees (R)

     

     

     

     

     

    Aerial View of Cemetery
    Deed Transfer, August 22, 2011
    Click here for a larger image (280k).

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     CEMETERY LOCATION

    Detail from Deed of Plan
    Plot Detail from Original 1831 Deed
    Click drawing for larger view.

    Aerial View of Cemetery
    Aerial View of Cemetery in 2011
    Bottom left outline is a detail of the smaller yellow block next to the road.
    Click drawing for larger view.
    Google Earth Image
    Click here for a map directly on Google Maps.

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     OTHER CEMETERIES WITH FAMILY BURIALS


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    This site and associated images are Copyright 2002 and 2011, by Charles A. Bliley, Webster, NY, U.S.A.

    Permission granted for use in personal genealogy work and non-profit distribution with copyright and source credit.

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