Laytons at FWBC Cemetery Hammondsport NY

Privacy Level: Public (Green)
Date: 1824 to 1897
Location: Urbana Township, Steuben County, New Yorkmap
Surname/tag: Layton,Cemeteries,Steuben_County,New_York
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Comparing 3 versions of gravestone readings for the Free Will Baptist Church Cemetery in Urbana Township, Steuben County, New York, aka Depew or Depew-Wixom Cemetery. Also there's new news about Thomas Layton and his wife Lydia who were buried here.


Laytons in Free Will Baptist Church Cemetery, Steuben County, New York

Excerpt from letter to Kay Faulkner on 13 Mar 1974 from Gladys Layton Lewis (from Xerox copy of original letter in possession of Naomi Layton Chase Pratt in 2000):

"You probably are aware of the old Free Will Baptist Cemetery atop the Reservoir Hill? The church beside the road is long gone, but the cemetery is down across the road from this spot. A tall monument showed above the tree tops, or at least it did six years ago. The early Laytons are buried here, and others at Drew on the Middle road, as you know."

Excerpt from letter to Leon Depew Layton on 25 Apr 1948 from Lois Hill Dean, wife of Prescott M. Dean (from Xerox copy of original letter in possession of Naomi Layton Chase Pratt in 2000):

"We found that one of the sons of Thomas Layton (Senior) married in New Jersey a woman whose name was Brokaw and whose mother was a Westbrook. Many of the early families intermarried so perhaps it was the same family as Lydia's (wife of Thomas Layton (Senior). I have never been certain that I copied the information from your records correctly. Perhaps you have those papers where you can check my copy and see what the maiden name of Lydia, wife of Thomas, was."

Excerpt from a letter to George Layton on 20 June 1954 from Gladys Layton Lewis (from original in possession of Pauline Layton):

"I've had several letters from his (Claud Layton's) wife Hazel, but when she told me that Thomas (4) and Lydia Westwood were buried in Urbana N. Y. I was greatly surprised and doubtful. I asked a cousin of mine living in Bath to go down and look that old Free Will Baptist Cemetery over. The road into it is overgrown and many stones flat, but she found them, and others." (George Layton had already made contact with Claud Layton of Layton, New Jersey in the 1940's, and George would have mentioned the graves of Thomas Layton and Lydia Westwood in Steuben County, New York.)


The old Free Will Baptist Church (FWBC) Cemetery in Steuben County, New York is more recently known as the Depew or the Depew-Wixom Cemetery. It is on Reservoir Hill Road, a ways north of Hammondsport and near the Urbana-Pulteney town border. [1] You can find it on an 1873 map [2] and also see how close it is to Isaac Layton's home turf. (Isaac inherited his grandfather Thomas Layton's farm.) Early Laytons were sometimes described as being buried on the family farm, which probably means that the land for the FWBC Cemetery originally belonged to Thomas. The name change for the cemetery probably occurred because of confusion with cemeteries maintained by other Baptist churches built later.

Free Will Baptist Church (Depew-Wixom) Cemetery name lists

The following chart compares three different readings of the cemetery gravestones, taken at different times.

First is the June 1954 reading by Gladys Layton Lewis' cousin from Bath, who was only looking for Laytons. Gladys wrote out neat copies of her cousin's list and distributed them to a few select Layton relatives (such as Naomi Layton Chase Pratt and George Layton) with whom she happened to be in touch (Xerox copiers were not available in 1954). See images at right of this profile.

(No doubt there were other, pre-Internet readings done, and they would be worth searching for, in local libraries and history societies.)

Second is the Layton names and dates found by cemetery reader Annette Campbell on or before 30 Sep 1999. Annette's aim was to read all the gravestones. Annette's list existed only on paper for an unspecified length of time before it was posted on Rootsweb by 1999 (and perhaps on other similar websites), making it generally available. [3]

Third is the Layton information posted online at Find-A-Grave Depew-Wixom Cemetery memorials have been only available online starting in 2009. [4] [5] Find-A-Grave used Annette Campbell's reading as a starting point. It includes updates by Jean Kay Morse Jackson), [6] and also a few "readings" that may come from descendants with other sources of information (and maybe no surviving stone to look at now).

Annette Campbell's original listing of 88 burials has thus been swollen to 165 names in Find-A-Grave's interpretation of Depew-Wixom Cemetery. By looking closely at the photos, you will discover that the Layton Find-A-Grave memorials at Depew-Wixom Cemetery (mostly posted in 2009-2010) tend to include calculated "aged" data created by subtracting a known birth date from a known death date. Sometimes a "birth" date is created by subtracting a known age at death from the known death date. Where there's no photo, you are left guessing if either of these processes occurred. Where there are photos posted, you can sometimes see that the Find-A-Grave post disagrees with what's on the stone. In all fairness, the disagreeing photos may have been added later, after the texts were posted.

34 Layton names appear on at least one of the lists below.

7 names appear on all 3 lists.

8 names were visible in 1954 but have been lost track of and aren't on the later lists at all.

Gladys' cousin missed 10 Laytons that appear on other lists.

Annette Campbell (within 45 years later) missed 17 names that had been visible in 1954.

In all, Annette's list lacks 23 names that appear on the other lists.

Find-A-Grave, not surprisingly, includes all the names that Annette had found. Find-A-Grave is able to account for all but 8 of the names that appear on Gladys' cousin's lists. However to some extent they may have been filling in the blanks with information about Laytons who were thought to be there but whose stones could no longer be found. [7]

The Chart Itself: three FWBC Cemetery readings

names on stones: Gladys’ cousin 1954[8]A. Campbell by 1999[3]Find-A-Grave[4]
Thomas Layton[9]“died 1925”no11 Feb 1738-9 Jun 1824
Lydia Westwood[9]“died 1935”no1744-1 Mar 1835 [10]
Andrew Layton“died 1863”no"-1863"
Sarahno dateno4 Jan 1810-30 Jun 1857
* Eleanor[11] 1810-1845 no19 Aug 1807-20 Oct 1845
* Joshua (see below)[11]1811-1850
* Thomas [11]1812-1889nono
Lewis Layton“died 1822”died 4 Feb 1872 age 9010 Apr 1811-4 Feb 1872
Judithno datedied 16 Apr 18491783-16 Apr 1849
* Permilla“died at 16 years”died 10 Mar 1875 age 46 y 7 m 2 d 10 Mar 1827-8 Aug 1875
John Layton“died 1891”25 Jun 1820–12 Jul 189025 Jun 1820–12 Jul 1890
Ammarisano datenono
* Henry[12] 1845-1870nono
* Lysander1846- 19 mo.noLisander 1845-30 Apr 1846
* Fred1847-1867no1856-1867
Joshua Layton1811-1850no1811-1850
Sarahno datenono
* Sarahno datenono
Abram1843-1883[13] died 16 Jul 1843 age 40 y1803-16 Jul 1843
Sarah1840-1857[13]died 30 Jun 1857 age 47y 5m 26d4 Jan 1810-30 Jun 1857
Peter Laytonno datenono
Ammeritono datenono
* Pilletta“died age 12”noVilletta 1843-1845 “aged 1–2”
Allen“died 1886”18 Oct 1839–11 Nov 188618 Oct 1839–11 Jan 1886
Lorenzo datenono
Lydia Layton (m. Nicholas Agor)no1816-18951816-1895
Sarah L. (m. Abraham Depew)no1831-18951831-1895
Isaac Laytonno4 Mar 1804-15 Aug 18974 Mar 1804-15 Aug 1897
Marie[14]no16 Feb 1813-4 Feb 188816 Feb 1813-4 Feb 1888
Abigail Laytonnono1836-1838
Cornelia Laytonnono1847-1848
Lysander nono28 Jul 1822-11 Aug 1839
Oliver Laytonnono1832-1835
Henry S Layton[12]nono1809-1845
Abigail L. (m. Peter Vanness)nono1769-1858
Layton names not found (of 34)missing 10missing 23missing 8

Problems with taking gravestone readings

This chart demonstrates how the dates on gravestones are subject to interpretation, which changes over time. 4's erode into 1's, 9's look like 4's, 7's look like 1's, and the inexperienced eye of Gladys' cousin may have missed a lot, especially if what Annette Campbell reported was written down verbatum.

Then there's a problem to watch out for where the years of birth and death are inscribed on separate lines on the stone and not specified as such, so that as the stone sinks into the sod, the lower date vanishes and the remaining date (the birth date) is now taken to be the death date. [15]

More discrepancies arise from the mistake of trying to interpret meanings on the fly instead of just writing down what's there.[16]

In any case you can see from the chart that supposed raw graveyard date readings may not be made correctly. Over time, the information available from gravestones tends to decrease even if a cemetery is well-tended (unless the stones are made of granite, which old gravestones generally were not). Also, readings may become contaminated with bad math or with information from other sources which may or may not be accurate. You can't find out how good the Find-A-Grave results' sources were without a lot of bother and emailing. If then.

Thomas and Lydia

The case of figuring out the dates (and the names) of Thomas Layton and his wife Lydia is especially puzzling.

Ladies from the Hammondsport Layton lines were filling out their Daughters of the American Revolution in the 1940's or 1950's, and they often used Ancestor #: A069214 (Thomas Leighton, sic) as their Patriot Ancestor. They tended to use dates from their family Bibles, thus using 9 Jun 1824 and 16 Nov 1832 as Thomas and Lydia's death dates. [17]

In about 2000, the incorrect death dates of 1825 and 1 Mar 1835 were often encountered in genealogical forums online, apparently posted by descendants who had gotten their dates from someone's visit to the graveyard before the mid-1900's, and not from family Bibles. (Evidently Lydia's stone once said "March 1, 1835" but it was hard to read by 1954.) [18]

The likeliest cause of this mess is that the stone(s) were erected some years after the fact, and someone told the stone engraver what to inscribe without conferring with other family members with better memories and with family Bibles to consult. Although the stone is (or stones are?) now absent or sunken from view, it seems well-established that Lydia's name was inscribed as "Westwood." This led to years of confusion and debate. The rarity of the name "Westwood" in early New Jersey, and the frequency of the name "Westbrook," did make the latter name a good bet.

But now, with's new Thru-Lines software, it seems clear that Lydia really was a Westbrook. Descendants of Johannes Westbroek and Magdelena Janse Decker share noticeable DNA with descendants of Thomas and Lydia's son John Layton. This information reached DNA-donors in July of 2019. [19] Thus the Westwood-Westbrook controversy can finally be laid to rest. [20]


  3. 3.0 3.1 Annette Campbell's reading of Depew Cemetery can be seen on accessed on 3 Jul 2000, at which time it said it was last modified 30 Sep 1999. It's still there 25 Jul 2019.
  4. 4.0 4.1 See
  5. The Find-A-Grave memorial for Lydia Layton Agor was the earliest to be posted, on 8 Oct 2009 (as you'll see if you go to Find A Grave: Memorial #42838760 and click on "View source").
  6. See
  7. Find A Grave: Memorial #62180211 is a prime example of Find-A-Grave providing dates that surely came from elsewhere than the actual stone. And his wife (see Find A Grave: Memorial #46608645) had a different last name on her stone, which apparently the person from Find-A-Grave never saw.
  8. see images at right of this file
  9. 9.0 9.1 see Thomas and Lydia section
  10. Find-A-Grave identifies her as Lydia Westbrook Layton. Which seems to be historically correct, but that wasn't on the stone.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Eleanor, Joshua, and Thomas apparently were listed on their parents' stone. Joshua also has his own stone in this same graveyard. Gladys thought Andrew's son Thomas was her ancestor and was the Thomas buried in Drew, i.e. Chestnut Grove, Cemetery. It's her ancestor in Chestnut Grove all right, but it's the son of Andrew's brother Lewis Layton.
  12. 12.0 12.1 poor reading or math like the error described in Abram Layton's footnote could have resulted in different readers deducing different Henries where there was only one. Further research is needed on this point.
  13. 13.0 13.1 for Abram who died at age 40, 40 years was added to his death date instead of subtracting. Whereas with wife Sarah, the stone must have said she died at age 47 but it looked like 17, giving Sarah an incorrectly calculated birth date of 1840. All this leaves Abram a widower at age 14 with a wife who died at age 17.
  14. In the Find-A-Grave photo, her name is plainly Maria Rutan, with no date visible. However this well-carved granite stone may not be original.
  15. This may not be a problem at FWBC Cemetery, but I've suspected some of the Thomas and John confusion at the older Layton burial ground in Sussex County, New Jersey might stem from this. - P.L. 1 Aug 2019
  16. see footnote about Abram and Sarah Layton in the chart above.
  17. see accessed 16 Feb 2019
  18. as observed by GenForum member Pauline Layton
  19. Unless you are an DNA-donor yourself and are one of the descendants involved, it may be impossible for you to access this information at Also they have been known to change their minds about what DNA means. In this case, with a good number of living relatives involved, the result is probably sound.
  20. The question remains unsettled exactly which Lydia Westbrook did Thomas Layton marry. See Lydia Westbrook-1492, also Pauline Layton's own profile page for discussions of what's wrong with Lydia Westbrook, the wife of Daniel Van Etten.


Much thanks to Naomi Layton Case Pratt for showing me her collection of Layton-related documents and letting me borrow items to copy in 2000. Also thanks to Gladys Layton Lewis, who shared her cousin's FWBC Cemetery reading, all those years ago. -Pauline Layton, 1 Aug 2019.


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