Notebook under her arm, 96-year-old Miss Lesley E. Voorhees examines a stone marking grave of her great-grandfather, who came to Lysander in the winter of 1812-13.
WOMAN, 96, KEEPS THE PAST IN FOCUS by Richard Palmer
Miss Lesley E. Voorhees of Baldwinsville, through her unique hobby has spent many of her 96 years helping others.
She has devoted a good part of her life to compiling vital statistics from old records and from more than a score of almost forgotten cemeteries in the Baldwinsville area.
Miss Voorhees has been interested in local history and genealogy all her life and she is considered the foremost authority on area pioneers.
Her work has proven to be a boon to people tracing their ancestry and she never fails to assist anyone doing research in this area.
Last year many of her records were printed in a 172-page book, which has been well-received by historians and genealogists alike across the country. It was published by "History's People Inc." of 216 Hampton Rd.
Many of these records are not available elsewhere. Included are the birth, death and marriage dates of many of Onondaga County's early settlers.
One inscription Miss Voorhees copied from the old part of Riverview Cemetery reads: "Doctor Jonas C. Baldwin who died 3d March 1827, ae 58 yrs survivor of his wife...Emigrants from Massachusetts--They early settled in this County, and in 1808 founded the Village which bears their name; the site of which, was selected by Mrs. Baldwin in 1796."
Many of the Voorhees records are of inscriptions from long abandoned and neglected local cemeteries. Most of the cemeteries are overgrown with brush and the stones, which she copied many years ago, have either disappeared or are buried.
According to Miss Voorhees, the earliest settlers were buried in small rural cemeteries, private burying grounds and the "Old yard" in Baldwinsville.
But as times and customs changed, these cemeteries fell into disuse, and later generations buried their dead in the larger cemeteries.
At 96, Miss Voorhees spends a good share of her day at her typewriter answering letters and helping people all over the country. She has never accepted any payment for her work because, she says, "I've done this for my own pleasure."
Many of the Baldwinsville area early settlers are buried in Cold Springs Cemetery. Few of the grave markers remain, and the cemetery has been overgrown with weeds.
(reprinted from Syracuse Herald American, December 11, 1966)