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In early winter of 1853, an association was formed to purchase land and establish a cemetery on what was then the western edge of the village of Cortland. (See official charter document.) Beginning with twelve acres, and initially accepting re-burials of over 800 early settlers of Cortland County from nearby smaller burial grounds and churchyard cemeteries, the Cortland Rural Cemetery today memorializes the remains of 18,000 people (roughly the present living population of the City of Cortland) in a centrally located 50-acre park.

    Over the last century and a half, the cemetery's gentle hills and lush greenery have manifested and continued the original concept of the "garden" cemetery ~ which became popular in the mid-1800s. The concept valued openness and rusticity, welcoming families to visit and remember those they had lost.

   Cortland Rural Cemetery is a historic cemetery where monuments honor humble and great citizens alike. Visitors may see the graves of the last Upstate Governor of New York, Nathan Miller; the graves of veterans of all American wars, including that of Brigadier-General Joseph Reynolds, who served in the War of 1812 and Colonel Andrew J. Grover, who died at Gettysburg; and the grave of Dr. Julia Spalding, who arrived in Cortland in 1883 as one of the nation's earliest women doctors.

LEARN EVEN MORE ABOUT OUR HISTORY: Check out our Buried Treasures column!


Here are back issues of our newsletters, rich with historical perspectives on the Cortland Rural Cemetery ~ and information on the ongoing successes and challenges of operating this beautiful, complex entity in today's world.

Newsletter archive

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