near Cedar Hill, Town of Bethlehem, Albany Co., NY
Cliff Lamere 23 Apr 2006
This is a photo of the entire Nicoll-Sill Cemetery, as seen from the road. (21 May 2005, Cliff Lamere)
About 96 gravestones in the Nicoll-Sill Cemetery have been transcribed. The information was published in Records of the People of the Town of Bethlehem, Albany County New York 1698-1880 edited by Florence Christoph and Peter R. Christoph, pp 155-162. They also include family relationships, which is very helpful.
Other Photos by Cliff Lamere taken 21 May 2005 (click on the camera images to view)
Rock with plaque at entrance. Plaque names 8 soldiers of the American Revolution: Cornelius Glen,
Hugh Jolly, Zimri Murdock, Francis Nicoll, James Selkirk, Richard Sill, Caleb Smith, and Arie Van Wie.
Bethlehem House, sometimes called Nicoll-Sill House (being restored)
The Nicoll-Sill Cemetery is just across the dead end road from the Bethlehem House (also called the Nicoll-Sill House). The Town Historian's records contain items from 1735 to 1976. The Town of Bethlehem's website says the following:
"Bethlehem House is the oldest family structure in the town, established circa 1735.
The Town of Bethlehem acquired the deteriorated house and property. The house was subsequently sold to a private owner and restored. The associated cemetery continues to be the property of the Town.
It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places."
-- Peter Christoph, personal communication 5/25/05
"The first residents of the Bethlehem House were Rensselaer Nicoll and Elizabeth Salisbury Nicoll. Rensselaer was the son of William Nicolls (with an 's'), William having been at various times Colonial Secretary and Speaker of the Colonial Assembly. Rensselaer's mother was
Anna van Rensselaer. Elizabeth Salisbury was the granddaughter of Sylvester Salisbury, one-time sheriff of Albany, commander of the fort, etc.
The name of the estate on which stands Bethlehem House was Cedar Hill. Nicoll owned land pretty much down to the Coeymans town line, so the present hamlet of Cedar Hill would have been included in that (probably also Selkirk)."
Revisited : a bicentennial story, 1793-1993 / by the Bicentennial History Committee, Floyd I. Brewer, senior editor.
Pg 194, author Floyd I. Brewer
"Elizabeth and Rensselaer Nicoll, builders of Bethlehem House, had four children including Francis (1737-1817), who married Margaret Van Rensselaer in 1762. Colonel Francis Nicoll took over the house when his mother died in 1790. Margaret and Francis Nicoll's daughter Elizabeth married Major Richard Sill at the house in 1785. Their oldest son, William Nicoll Sill (1786-1844), lived much of his early life with his grandparents, Francis and Margaret Sill, and inherited the house when Francis died in 1817. Thereafter, Sill families occupied Bethlehem House until it was sold by Lydia Sill in 1875."
-- Bethlehem Revisited : a bicentennial story, 1793-1993 / by the Bicentennial History Committee, Floyd I. Brewer, senior editor. Pg 87, author Peter Christoph
"A leader in early Bethlehem town politics, as he had been in the Revolutionary War period, was Francis Nicoll of Cedar Hill. His son-in-law, Richard Sill, who had read law in the office of Aaron Burr, served in the Sate Assembly from 1789 until his untimely death on June 4, 1790."
-- Peter Christoph, personal communication 5/28/05
"An exact date for the building of Bethlehem House is not known. However, Rensselaer Nicoll married Elisabeth Salisbury around 1730 (judging by baptisms of children) and the house seems to have been built about 1735 on land Rensselaer inherited from his uncle Kiliaen Van Rensselaer (patroon, lord of the manor, son of Jeremias and Maria)."
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