Both the Presbyterian Church & Cemetery and the White Plains (WP) Rural Cemetery on N Broadway contain graves from colonial times and veterans of the Battle of WP. As was once customary, people had family burial plots near their homes and WP still has three smaller burial areas.
Today’s Presbyterian Church dates from 1855 with additions added in 1924 and 1958. Before constructing the first meeting house in 1727, services were held in the homes of its members as far back as 1722. The first structure built on the site was destroyed by fire as well as its 1824 replacement. The first structure was destroyed during the fire set by Major Austin after the Battle of WP.
Parts of the graveyard were moved to the north side of the chapel to make room for the additions. Graves date from 1709. The church’s first ordained minister, Reverend John Smith (1702-1771) was buried under the church. His tomb stone was originally in the grave yard but was later placed inside the church. Jacob Purdy of the Purdy House is buried in the cemetery .
The WP Rural Cemetery, incorporated in 1854, bought the land bordering the property of the Methodist Church in 1855. The Church Building (1797) became the Cemetery’s office and replaced the first structure that was destroyed by fire in 1795. The Church’s grave yard dates back to 1797.
In 1966, before the WP Hotel (now Esplanade) was constructed, the burial plots near the corner of S Broadway and the E Post R that were part of the Grace Church Cemetery and Hatfield Family Burial Ground were relocated to the Rural Cemetery. Grace Church’s first building of 1825 was located on the site till it was abandoned in 1864 when the congregation moved to its new building on Main St. The Hatfield relations were among the first families to settle in White Plains. Captain Abraham Hatfield owned property and the Hatfield Tavern that was located near the first courthouse. Gilbert Hatfield’s home on Hatfield Hill was used by Americans during the Battle of WP. The home was located at 1020 Hall Ave till around 2013 when it was demolished. The former home of Daniel Hatfield still exists on Lake St.
The eight graves from the Dick Family Burial Ground (1798-1854) were also relocated to the WP Rural Cemetery in the early 1900’s from a section of the city along the south side Westchester Ave between Bryant Ave and Meadowbrook Rd.
WP Rural Cemetery has a cannon and memorials honoring veterans buried in the cemetery.
A small burial area for Harriett-Leonard Family on West Street remains with one tombstone for Abraham Leonard. In more recent times, it received attention by being cleared of overgrowth.
The much larger Purdy Cemetery is along Mamaroneck Ave just south of Hillair Circle. Both burial plots have gotten some recent attention. On November 7, 2010, a new headstone was rededicated for Hercules Wessels, one of several people who were buried in the Purdy Cemetery. The WP Historical Society has been restoring other tombstones in the grave site that is on private property but is now managed by the Historic Society. More information can be found on their website at whiteplainshistory.org.
What remains of the Foster Family Burial Plot is located on Hall Ave where it becomes Buckout Rd. The Baldwin Cemetery is located further down the road from the Baldwin Farm that is now a city park. There is only one grave stone standing. The cemetery was recently named a Historic Landmark by the City.
There are former members (including the founders) of Good Counsel buried at the Chapel of Divine Compassion on N Broadway. Father William A. Dunphy pastor of St John the Evangelist Church (1885-1891) is interred under the altar in the center of the sanctuary.
For detail information on cemeteries of WP see Patrick Raferty’s book “The Cemeteries of Westchester County.”