Discovering the Millville Cemetery, another local historic landmark

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 May 2013 at 12:00 am

Shelby site is listed on National Register of Historic Places

Photos by Tom Rivers – The Millville Cemetery, which was established in 1871 on East Shelby Road, includes this iron arch with the cemetery name. The large statue in the background marks the grave for Asa Hill, a Civil War soldier and prominent local farmer.

This wood frame chapel has a Medina sandstone foundation. It was built into a hill and also served as a receiving vault and office.

SHELBY – Last month I write about Hillside Cemetery in Holley being nominated at the state level to join the National Register of Historic Places, a decision that is expected to be announced this month by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

In doing research on Hillside Cemetery, I discovered that two other cemeteries in Orleans County were on the National Register. I knew Mount Albion was recognized, but I didn’t realize Millville Cemetery made the list in 2007.

I stopped by the cemetery Friday evening on the way to the East Shelby fire hall. Millville Cemetery is impressive, especially the monument to Asa Hill, a Civil War soldier who returned to community and became a prominent farmer. His family put up the large monument, where local lore suggests he is looking towards Sanderson Road, keeping watch on the family farm, said Bill Lattin, the county historian.

The monument for Asa Hill honors the Millville resident who served in the Civil War.

If we ever establish a Civil War Trail in Orleans County, Asa Hill’s monument should certainly be on the list. Several other Civil War soldiers are buried at Millville.

The wood frame chapel in the cemetery was built in a Gothic Revival style in 1894. It includes a Medina sandstone foundation. The chapel also served as the cemetery office and receiving vault.

Millville Cemetery was established in 1871. A sandstone retaining wall faces East Shelby Road. The monuments and Victorian funerary art reflect the prosperity of the community back when it was home to three sawmills, gristmill and turning mill, according to the description of the site on the National Register.

There are many enormous and grand trees in this cemetery.

The cemetery is elevated in an otherwise flat area. “The landscaping and roads and the plantings make it an exemplary vernacular rural cemetery,” according the Department of the Interior, which decides whether a site meets the threshold to be on the National Register.

The Millville Cemetery Association, like many independent cemetery associations, recently disbanded and turned the cemetery over the to town. Shelby is now owner and guardian of the cemetery. Hillside also folded and the Town of Clarendon is the site’s owner.