Our 2001 Eggleston Genealogy Odyssey continued in Marcellus, New York, which turned out to be a goldmine. Not only were we able to walk around the area where Samuel and Rebecca Eggleston migrated in the early 1800’s, but we found precious Church records mentioning many family members.
After leaving the Kellogsville Cemetery for the second time the morning of Friday August 10th, we drove back up and around Skaneateles Lake. On the east side of the lake are very large homes along the lakefront. Then we turned and went up the hill further east to find farms.
The Rosehill/Thornhill/Marcellus Baptist Church
We drove past some cornfields and found the Thornhill Church (It is now called Rosehill Baptist Church-that is what is on the sign) on the corner. It is an old white frame building with a tower and steeple in front. I learned from histories that it was built in 1849, with the tower added later. The windows are large and rectangular with a row of different colored stained glass panes around the large rectangles.
Inside the church smelled old and musty. The door was open but we found no one inside. The chapel is obviously the original part of the building but there are additions. These included a kitchen, an area where they had copy machines and a very recent addition of a large recreation hall. (The Pastor seemed quite proud of this new addition.)
I had contacted Pastor Olcott before our trip. He told us that there were early records of the church and we were welcome to visit and look at them. We saw a phone in the front entry of the church and I was going to call the Pastor, but it rang and was picked up at their home next door.
The Thornhill Cemetery
We went outside to the adjacent Thorn Hill Cemetery and easily found Benjamin and Elizabeth Eggleston’s graves. Next to them is a large monument for Sarah Gardner, Theodore’s wife and on the other side is Ruth, wife of Thomas Bryant.
I found an interesting Cornell marker which was hard to read. There was a verse at the bottom. I am still curious about this one.
The Church Records
While we were looking in the Cemetery, Pastor Olcott came walking over from the house. He took us inside and upstairs to an office. Then he dug through a file cabinet and pulled out the records. There were two old long, narrow books and some small, newer ones. He left us there and went out to mow the lawn. I was amazed that we were allowed to handle these books, one that was almost 200 years old, without cotton gloves or any supervision.
I looked through the oldest book and found many familiar names. Dad looked through the next book (abt 1825-1850) and made some notes.
I should note that this trip was early in the digital age. I was taking pictures with a camera that used film. Digital cameras were not very good then and we did not have one. Of course, we did not have cell phones with cameras – we didn’t even have a cell phone. I did have a scanner at home, but it would have been awkward to haul it around. Portable scanners were available but expensive, and I had not invested in one. So we were rather low tech with our attempts to capture the information in these records.
We marked some pages and went downstairs and made copies on their copy machine. Unfortunately they only had regular size paper and these pages were longer. And yes, we were flipping pages in a 200 year old book and throwing them up on the copy machine.
It was getting lunchtime and I suggested Dad go out and make sandwiches, but he stayed to help me. We ate lunch there in the parking lot. I could have stayed all day going through those records and would like to have copied all of them. We did copy membership lists and pages that had information about Eggleston family members.
We drove around the area some and I tried to determine where the Egglestons had lived. I had an old map that I had used when doing research into land records. It showed the various lot numbers, so it gave us some idea of where family members would have lived.
Samuel Jr. had land on Lot 59 which bordered the lake so would have had some pretty lake front. There is not really any beach, but the woods probably would have gone right out to the water. The farms were probably up on the hill and their home would have been along the road, likely the same road we drove on.
The land probably was rather wooded originally, then they cleared farms. There are still wooded areas and many farms. Samuel Sr., Nathan, Benjamin, Joseph and the Tanners would have had more level land further east and away from the lake.
We left Marcellus with our copies of the precious Church records. I continued to be concerned about those records. They could so easily be damaged or destroyed – it was amazing to me that they hadn’t been already. After I returned home, I wrote to Pastor Olcott, thanking him for showing us the records and suggested some ways he could have the records digitally preserved. I haven’t seen them show up online. I hope something has been done to preserve them.