Almost half of the gravestones of the old Presbyterian Church Cemetery are for children who died under the age of six. One such gravestone is Lucius Spalding who was born in 1837 and died in 1839. A bio on a two year old is really not possible, so I like to research the family history. Usually I go further back in time but for this “bio” I also went forward . As always, I am amazed at how connected this little hamlet of Fish House is to history.
So I will start before Lucius Spalding was born in 1837. His grandfather, Edmund Spalding was born in Plainfield CT. He married Mary Chandler in 1809. They had three sons, Alva, Andrew and a Lucius. That Lucius died in 1819 at the age of three. Several days later, Edmund’s wife, Mary died. Two months later, Edmund remarried, packed their bags and moved his new wife and his two sons west to Northampton, NY. where he became a farmer. His son, Andrew, at the age of 20, married Emmeline Hamilton in 1834. In 1837, Emmeline gave birth to a son, whom they named Lucius Spalding, after Andrew’s brother who died at the age of three. If one were to believe in bad luck, then they shouldn’t have named him Lucius. This second Lucius Spalding died at the age of two and is buried in the Presbyterian Church Cemetery. Andrew, like his father Edmund after the death of his young son, also packed up their bags and he and his wife, Emmeline, moved west to Buffalo NY. In 1840 Emmeline gave birth to a daughter,Mary Spalding.
In Buffalo, Andrew found work as a harbor dredger. The Erie Canal had been finished in 1825 and the city of Buffalo was very busy in improving its Black Rock Harbor, which meant a lot of dredging. Sometime in that decade, however, Andrew, Emmeline and Mary moved back to this area, to the town of Glen. According to the 1850 and 1860 census Andrew's occupation was listed as a carpenter.
Now, bear with me as I jump to a totally different family line.
In 1833, in Duanesburg, NY a Lewis Jackson Bennett was born to William and Elma Bennett. He was the oldest of several children. He was not physically able to be a farmer, the word “delicate” was used to describe him, so he began his work career as a clerk in a grocery store in Fultonville, New York. Eventually he became a partner in a grocery firm ,but at the age of 33, his health failed him and he had to retire. He decided to travel across the country for several months. He returned to Fultonville and established his own grocery company in 1856. Less than a year later, he married Mary Spalding (the daughter of Andrew and Emmeline and the sister of Lucius). The wedding was in Johnstown, NY. In the 1860 census, Lewis and Mary were living in the town of Glen and Lewis’ occupation was listed as a grocer. In the 1865 census, they are listed as living with Mary’s parents, Andrew and Emmeline Spalding.
In 1866 the whole family, Bennett’s and Spalding’s moved to Buffalo where both Andrew and Lewis were listed as harbor dredgers. In 1868 they start a company called Spalding & Bennett. This company contracted harbor work and also built the first iron bridges for small towns in Erie County. In 1877 Lewis started the Buffalo Cement Company, a major industry at that time. The Spaldings and Bennetts were still living under the same roof up through the 1880 census.
In 1889, Lewis Bennett became interested in real estate. He was responsible for the development of the neighborhood known as Central Park in Buffalo. Big beautiful homes were built there all following the zoning ordinances established by Bennett. His own home was built there at 354 Depew Street (see photo below). It was a 24 room house, not bad for a “delicate” grocery clerk from Duanesburg, NY. Lewis Bennett also donated land for a high school, it still stands today and is called Bennett High School.
So this small gravestone of Lucius Spalding, in a small, almost forgotten cemetery of Fish House, has a connection to the major development of Buffalo, NY