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Belden Slave Cemetery (a.k.a. Shaw Cemetery)
Carmel, NY

This sketch was done in 2004, as remembered by Rev. Floyd Fisher. The artist states "of course the walls were tumbled down, and the slaves buried here were bond slaves from England. That's why Deborah said she wanted to be buried with her people. Bond slaves bonded out to settlers coming here to work off their debts [sic]. The master would pay off their prison debts."

Current Status: Long lost to development or nature.
Description: In The History of Putnam County, Pelletreau, a footnote on page 282 describes this: "In an old burying ground on the Belden farm, at teh southwest corner of Lake Gleneida, and where slaves of the Belden family were buried, is a small enclosure surrounding a single grave and a headstone recording the death of Deborah Shaw." Containted severeal unidentified fieldstone graves and the marked grave of Deborah Shaw.
GPS: Approx. N41•, W073•
Location: North side of Route 6 between the lake and the Whipple driveway.
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Troy #: 1Z5

The cemetery is lost and gone. Rev. Floyd Fisher's sketch, drawn from memory but the only known eyewitness image of the tiny graveyard, shows about 10 fieldstones or footstones not mentioned by Pelletreau, and Deborah Shaw's prominent inscribed stone, with possibly a few more hidden by the wall in the foreground.

At the census of 1800, when she would be about 60, a Deborah Shaw pops up by name, so she or a namesake is a head of household at that time; she has one person living with her. Ages aren't listed, so there's no telling if it's the Deborah Shaw of the burial. By the census of 1820, there are no Shaw heads of household at all in the Town of Carmel. So, at that time any Shaws are living with other families.

The cemetery names are both misleading. We have no evidence that the Beldens ever had slaves. Also, there is no evidence that Deborah Shaw was related to the loyalist Timothy Shaw's family on the north shore of Shaw's Pond, who went to Canada 40 years before her death; there were other Shaws in the area at that time.

References: Pelletreau p.282; Fisher sketch in Timothy Shaw genealogy. No photos known.


Shaw, Deborah

Born: June 17, 1839 BUYS #:
Died: 5 May 1824 Troy #:
Aged: 84 Years


"Deborah Shaw was a white woman who lived with several faimly. She requested to be buried in that place because, as she said, 'my ancestors life there.' It is probable that she was a daughter of Timothy Shaw, and that the faimly burying place was there in early times.

"Timothy Shaw made his home at the north end of the lake [Gleneida] which from him took the name of Sahw's Pond, which it continued to bear till modern times, when it was changed to the more romantic and musical title of Lake Gleneida. As in his affidavit made in 1767 he states that he was well acquainted with all the settlements that had been made in these parts withint twenty-five years, it is evident that he must have been here as early as 1742, and he doubtless has the honor of being the first settler in the present village of Carmel." (Source: The History of Putnam County, Pelletreau).

Information gets appended to her story as accepted fact, but it's not necessarily precise or correct.

These are some assumptions:

a) Deborah Shaw was born in 1740. We don't know that. The graveyard inscription as reported said Deborah Shaw died May 5 1824 aged 84. If that is correct, then she was born circa 1740 to be precise, between May 5, 1739 and May 5, 1740.

b) Deborah Shaw was a Shaw by birth. We don't know that. She may have married a Shaw, or even been adopted.by a Shaw. Deborah is a Biblical name, and common in families of the time (though absent in the Belden family tree); for example, in my research of the family of Elnathan and Martha Paddock Doane in Southeast, the fate of their daughter Deborah (born May 26, 1739) is still unknown.

c) Deborah Shaw was associated with Timothy Shaw's family. We don't know that. There were other Shaws in the precinct, and in town, besides Timothy's; see the censuses and the poormasters' records. We don't know that she ever lived on Timothy Shaw's land, or even in Carmel.

d) Deborah Shaw was the daughter of Timothy Shaw. We don't know that, and the family doesn't claim that to be a fact. George-Terrence Hall Shaw's extensive genealogy lists Deborah as Timothy's "probable" daughter, with a question mark; is he saying probable because Pelletreau did? Timothy's only son was John, and reportedly he had a sister who was "in the states" so described because the Shaws were Loyalists, and had resettled in New Brunswick, Canada.

e) The lakeside cemetery was associated with Timothy Shaw's family. We don't know that. Other than the mention of Deborah Shaw's burial, it's been called the "Belden slave cemetery." The Beldens were not known to have slaves, however, they tended town poor, and a poorhouse (18x22, built 1793) may have been on their property, so the cemetery might be a burial plot for the poor, or for indentured servants, or for freedmen, or even slaves other people's, not necessarily the Belden family. In the Gilead burying ground, a youngster identified only as Trim, a servant, is buried with the Beldens; white children (whether free, poor or indentured) generally had a last name.

f) The cemetery was on (Timothy) Shaw property. We don't know that. The only mention of the cemetery is Deborah's inscription in 1824, over 40 years after the (Timothy) Shaws left town. Those Shaws and the Philipses fought over the property for some time, and the Shaws definitely lost the property after the Revolution. Did the cemetery even exist when those Shaws were there? Was it somewhere else on the shore, and moved there when the lake was enlarged? We don't know that.

This cemetery is sketched from memory by Rev. Floyd Fisher in or prior to 2004; it was not, however, listed in his 1975 sampling of old cemeteries, nor in any previous list other than the footnote in Pelletreau. Sandra Cole Seymour, who grew up nearby, also remembers seeing the cemetery.

Ancestry.com, the premier online genealogical source, offers a tempting note:

"American Genealogical-Biographical Index (AGBI) - about Deborah Shaw; Name: Deborah Shaw;
Birth Date: 1740; Birthplace: New York; Volume: 157; Page Number: 57; Reference: Names of
persons for whom marriage licenses were issued by the secretary of the Province of NY previous
to 1784. Albany, 1860. (480p.):347. Source: Godfrey Memorial Library, comp.. American
Genealogical-Biographical Index (AGBI) [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations
Network, Inc., 1999. Original data: Godfrey Memorial Library. American Genealogical-Biographical
Index. Middletown, CT, USA: Godfrey Memorial Library."

The Shaw entry turns out to be dated 29 Sept 1760, in which a Deborah Shaw, born in New York, plans to marry a Joseph Webb (Record M.B., Vol. 3, p. 336). But does this Deborah marry him? We don't know. Asked for Joseph Webb marriages, Ancestry's imperfect search engine finds over 5,000 user-supplied references; none have a Deborah Shaw as the spouse. Also, this online report at Ancestry.com does not say where in New York Province (state) the license was taken out. Short of going to the source material, this clue leads nowhere.