The history of our community can be seen through the lens of the land on which the cemetery sits. To the right is a snippet from Westchester’s first Auto Atlas, a two volume set of maps designed for the very first automobile drivers. It shows the location of the cemetery in 1914, with the Greenville Hotel across the street (on part of what is now Scarsdale Country Estates), the Crane Woods owned by Col. A.B. Crane to the east (what is now Edgemont High School) and Dr. McAllister’s summer estate just to the north.
Though it’s easy to view the area prior to the rise of suburbanization in the 1950s as “a handful of farms and cart paths,” we have found a richer story that we will attempt, over time, to share with you here.
Below is a Timeline to for the property that the cemetery occupies. We will fill in the stories and link to pages with more information as time permits.
- Pre-1778 – The land on which the Old Greenville Cemetery sits today was originally the farm of John Tompkins who, along with John & William Underhill, were among the prosperous tenant farmers of the Phillipsburg Manor land which would become Greenville and later Edgemont. Together they held 65% of the land. The other significant families were those of John Hart, Joshua Hunt and Peter Bonnet.
- 1777 – the American Army marched along the Road to Tuckahoe – now Old Army Road on their way from New York to White Plains. They probably watered their horses at William Underhill’s tavern. Jacob Odell, as a boy, recalls climbing to the crest of the ridge to watch the soldiers march by.
- 1786 – This land passed to James Tomkins, son of John. The Tompkins farm was bounded by the Bronx River, the Hart property to the north, the road that would become Central Park Avenue, and Old Army (or the Road to Tuckahoe). Across Old Army Road was the land of William Underhill. Monmouth Hart’s land was to the north, inherited from his father John.
- 1788 – New York State established it’s first towns as political entities and Greenburgh began.
- 1810 – The land upon which the Cemetery stands had passed into the Underhill name. Through the prior two generations the Underhill and Tompkins children had married and formed an interlocking network of Aunts and Uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins. The LeViness family moved in by 1810 to buy a large farm in central Greenville. Another new family in the early 19th Century was the Seely family.
- 1817 – William Underhill dies and Gilbert becomes the owner of the Underhill Farm and Tavern.
- 1842, March 1 – Gilbert Underhill donates the original land gift for the Church and the Cemetery.
- 1842 – the small Church Sanctuary was constructed by William Hanlon and Richard Layton for $297.
- 1844, June 1 – Gilbert Underhill and Charles Dusenbury gifts land to extend the property of the Church through this gift.
- 1852 – Stone wall constructed around the Cemtery for $108.75.
- 1862, January 4 – Gilbert Underhill sells for $125 an extending tract of land near to the back yard of his residence.
- 1862, January 7, Charles Dusenbury gift of land, including a house and carriage house, for the Minister to use of for a Manse.
- 1864, December 6 – the beginning of a 12 year suit on the part of the family who had rented the house Charles Dusenbury owned and donated to the church for a manse. The Church won the suit with damages in 1876, though the strain caused the loss of one of the Church’s most cherished members, Charles Dusenbury.
- 1867 – opening of Central Park Avenue, connecting Central Park in New York City with White Plains.
- 1870, July – Tompkins land gift extends Cemetery eastward.
- 1897 – Albert Leviness & Dorcas Tompkins land gift.
- 1947, September 23 – Cecelia McAllister land gift.
- 1954 – Elizabeth Peters land gift.
- 1957 – Church purchases property for new Church from Seely esta
te at the top of Ardsley Road hill.
- 1958, July 1 – Church sells property surrounding Cemetery to West End Funeral Home.
- 1965 – Property sold to Weber Development.
- 1968 – Weber Development Corporation acquired the property secured a zoning change that would have prevented access to the Cemetery. The Church was forced to seek remedy in court.
- 1968 – 1976 – a confusing number of land transfers of small portions of this former Church property.
- 1970, May 25 – Article in the local paper describes concern for the Cemetery’s future in the wake of the development of the surrounding property.
- 1971, June 21 – State Supreme Court reversed earlier judgment in favor of the Church.
- 1974, April 28 – Vandals attached the Cemetery on the last weekend of the High School’s spring break and damaged over 90 historic headstones. The cost to restore the damage was $90,000.
- 1974, June – Two Edgemont teens were arrested and charged with the Vandalism. Edgemont school community pledged to help the Church restore the damage.
- Four headstones were repaired, the enthusiasm ebbed and the Church was left with the heartbreaking damage to this historic property and the graves of the community’s founding families.
- 1970s – in the later 1970’s, due to the recession and financial constraints, the Church could no longer afford to maintain a dedicated Caretaker for the Cemetery. With the building of the Scarsdale Mini-mall, the Church lost access to water and electricity. The Church managed to support the Cemetery with routine care of mowing and annual cleanups.
- 2011 – A renewed Ministry helped to form the current Greenville Cemetery Committee – a small but dedicated group of local residents and members of the Greenville Church who have spearheaded an environmentally responsible cemetery renovation.
- 2011-2014 – Resources were dedicated to
- Remove overgrown and downed trees
- Remove Poison Ivy in environmentally safe way using Poison Ivy Gone
- Create modern inventory of all cemetery residents
- Reevaluate damaged monuments, investigate ways to restore
- Pave the footpath to allow for vehicles to use path for catering and visiting purposes
- Creating a sign to let people know who we are
- Investigate capital projects such as Monument restoration, buying and installing an new fence, securing the property
- Coming soon – updates for our partners who have helped us with our progress and links, as well as more details and pictures.