Wickham Farm Burying Ground

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Wickham Farm Burying Ground


Lester_brothers.jpg



Location

Dormansville, (Dunbar Hollow) - Turn right from Ravena - Westerlo road at foot of the Dormansville hill, and proceed 1.5 miles, turn left at red school house, proceed to the right, then the next left to the end of the road, Cemetery south of the house.

History

This is the burial spot of the two sons of George and Patience Lester who were murdered by their Reuben Dunbar, the step-son of their uncle who had taken them in after the death of their father.


While researching the Dunbar family, I found a number of newspaper articles on the tragic murders of brothers David and Stephen V. Lester, ages 9 and 7, in Westerlo on the 28th of Sept. 1850. After the death of their father, they went to live with their uncle David Lester. On the fateful day the boy's uncle left home on a sixteen mile round trip to Brigg's mill at Stephensville, the present-day Alcove. The boys were left in charge of his stepson, twenty year-old Reuben Dunbar. When David returned home that night the boys were missing. Reuben say that they had wanted to gather butternuts or go fishing and that he told them they had better not. No search was made for them that night, but the next day Lester, Reuben an neighbors started looking for Davy and Stephen. Their bodies were found a few days later deep in the woods hidden under rocks and branches.

Reuben A. Dunbar was tried and found guilty. He was sentenced to death, and was hanged on the 31st of January 1851 for the murder of his two young nephews.

The boys were reportedly buried in the Dunbar Hollow Cemetery but they are not on the list of stones transcribed by the Hannays. It may be that not all of the stones were readable.

Follow-up: Thanks to a comment by anonymous I continued my search and found Reuben, Reuben's father, Alexander, and the two murdered sons of George H. and Patience Lester buried together, the only four burials in the Wickham Farm Burying Ground, Dunbar Hollow, Dormansville.

Further reading: The Hudson River Magazine for April, 1939, contains an article "Murder in Dunbar Hollow" by Ray Mower.

New York Folklore Quarterly - Page 33 by New York Folklore Society - Folklore - 1958 Cuyler, Jacob C., Trial of Reuben Dunbar for the Murder of Stephen V. Lester ...

Burials




Lester brothers

Side by side on one stone: 

David L died Sep. 28 1850 in the 10. year of his age ___ Stephen V. died Sep. 28 1850 in the 8. year of his age ___ Sons of George & Patience LESTER Reuben Dunbar Alexander Dunbar