Belden Slave Cemetery (a.k.a. Shaw Cemetery)
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."
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.