Almeron Lyman Nelson of Coudersport, Pennsylvania–my 1st cousin 6x removed–was the original Nelson family historian: he arranged and hosted every family reunion for over a decade; he preserved family heirlooms, portraits and photographs for future generations; and he recorded names and dates for the local newspaper’s town history column. Everything I know about the Nelson family tree comes from Almeron’s personal notes, and it seems as though family meant everything to Almeron, too. At the end of his life, he wanted to ensure that everyone was buried together–wait, you didn’t think this story would take such a turn? I didn’t think my research would, either; and then I found this article in The Potter Enterprise from June 3, 1896:
Bodies Removed: The Desceased Members of Almeron Nelson’s Family Now Rest in Eulalia Cemetery
Within the past two weeks Mr. Almeron Nelson, of Ladona, has taken the remains of several of his nearest relatives from the old cemetery at Lymansville and removed them to his lot in Eulalia Cemetery.
The first to be so removed was a few bones and the crumbling ashes of his sainted mother, who departed this life in July 1844 and who was the first to be interred in the Lymansville Cemetery. His father, Mr. Cephas Nelson, who died in 1857, was the next to be removed, and Mr. Nelson stated that nothing remained of the once manly form but a few crumbling bones, the casket and its outer case being entirely eaten away.
Othello Lyman, a boy whom Mr. Nelson had adopted, and who died from diphtheria October 17, 1862, was the next, followed by the remains of his daughter, Cora Ellen, who contracted the dread disease and followed him to his grave on the 29th of the same month. Mrs. Henrietta Nelson, his wife, who died October 2, 1866, was also buried in the cemetery, and together with her infant son, were taken up and moved to the new cemetery, where they shall repose until the last trumpet shall sound.
Mr. Nelson said the work brought up the past, and that his boyhood and young manhood days passed before him in quick review, as he tenderly handled the ashes of those whom he had loved and lost, and he is pleased that their remains are now resting peacefully in the plot of ground where he expects, sooner or later, to lie down to his last long sleep. The old cemetery at Lymansville will be a thing of the past, and those loved forms will sleep no more beneath the shade of the trees which sheltered them in their early life.
On September 26, 1896, Almeron died of a stroke in the 80th year of his life while walking down the street in Coudersport; he had completed his family’s reinterment only a few months prior, and he was buried with them in Eulalia Cemetery. His obituary describes him as “one of [Potter County’s] best citizens” and states that “the suddenness of his demise made the blow more cruel to the family and friends;” he was a well-known and respected member of his community–always looking after others and seeking to preserve the past–but all of this pales in comparison this time of year to the Halloween-esque interment of his mother, father, wife, sons and daughter. I have never come across a story this unique, and I doubt I ever will again; it’s all the best parts of Halloween–creepy, intriguing and touched by a bit of madness, too.