STORY OF THE SIKES BURIAL
by John R. Henshaw January
17, 18, & 19, 1944
This burial place was started when Zenas Sikes was
killed during the turning of the ferry boat which was used between
Thompsonville, know as Love Joy ferry from an early owner named Love
At the time when Zenas Sikes was killed, his brother
Elam Sikes, my grandfather, owed and operated the boat. Elam Sikes
his family in the large tavern or hotel, since taken down, which stood
the road which now leads to the bridge and was also the road to the
After he was crushed by the boat falling back Zenas Sikes was carried
house and soon died. The boat was taken out of the river when ice
formed and kept
on land until spring. It was called a horse or swing ferry. The boat
turned over to caulk the seams between the planks which dried out when
was out of water. The caulking was done with tow. The tow was driven
the cracks with a iron tool something like a chisel and a hammer. After
cracks were filled the tow was coated with melted pitch to complete the
But to return to the death of Zenas Sikes, as I heard
the story told when a boy by my Uncle Robert Sikes, there were a number
invited as there were to a house or barn raising in the old days. For
reason after the men had raised the boat a distance, they were not able
complete the job, my Uncle hinted that there was too much liquor, or it
have been too few men. At any rate they lost control of the boat and it
on to the timbers crushing Zenas Sikes to death on February 25, 1827.
Zenas Sikes lived in the house by the street south west
of the burial lot which was later the house of his second son Lewis
Sikes, a deacon in the Second
for many years. Deacon Sikes lived in the house until his death. The
taken down by George Hendee after he bought the place. Zenas Sikes left
wife Alma Adams and three sons Cyrus O., Lewis Z., and Julius F. Sikes.
reasons for burying Zenas Sikes on the hill side were that at the time
students had been known to rob graves of bodies to use them to learn of
anatomy of the human body. As Zenas died with out disease, his
thought that he might be used for the purpose. Another reason was that
times when a person was buried in the old cemetery near the church in a
time or the spring of the year, the grave filled with water and it was
necessary to sink the coffin. As the burial place was near his home, a
was kept for some time by night to prevent stealing. The location was
the hill side with a great depth of yellow sand.
Some time later Zenas Sikes widow, Alma Adams Sikes,
married Mr. Edwin Bement and became the mother of four sons and two
One son, David Bement is buried in this Sikes burial place, he died
1834 aged 2 years 3 months. One son, Edwin, enlisted in the Union army
time of the Rebellion and was lost, his family never knew how he died.
other sons were Hiram and Doremus who operated a farm together for many
Doremus was a deacon in the Second Baptist for many years. He spent
with the sick even when they had contagious diseases, and so far as I
received very little if any recompense. The daughters married Jerome
The markers were originally white marble slabs with
inscriptions. One or two had weeping willow trees engraved on them.
Sikes's stone had an epitaph which read as I remember it. "As you are
so once was I, As I'm now so you must be, Prepare for death and follow
me." I recall that once when Howard and I were reading it, he said in
witty way "I don't know whether I want to follow him or not."
David Sikes, the revolutionary soldier, was the
of the sons and daughter who with there wives and husbands are buried
place. David Sikes married Lucy Sikes the daughter of Sam Sikes who
two story rectangular house which stood on the corner north of Hickory Street,
short time before the Revolution War. David Sikes died December 28,
78 years. His wife survived him nearly 23 years. She received a U.S.
$20 a year if she did not marry. She did not. There for, I judge, she
find a man whom she deemed of as much value as her pension. She died
1856 aged 94 years. David and his wife lived on the east side of the
nearly opposite the house which was occupied by my brother Howard until
death. Their house was a one story square structure with a ell and
Before Lucy, his widow died, Frederick and Robert Sikes, my Uncles,
house which my brother occupied on the West side of the highway.
David Sikes Jr, the oldest son who lived on Hickory Street, on
the farm now occupied by his descendants the Lymans, married Cynthia
whom he had three sons and one daughter, they were David Lyman,
Emmett, Orson Stiles Sikes. The daughter was Angeline who married
David Sikes Jr. died August 2, 1864 aged 76.
Cynthia, his first wife, died February 25, 1829 aged 28
years. Later David married Nancy Ferry who, I think was also buried on
plot but as she had no stone her name is not on the bronze tablet Zenas
was the second son. The third child as I
figure was Lucy Sikes Jr. who married Roswell Adams. They had one child
Adams, so far as I know. As I remember my Uncle Robert said that John
when President of the United States called on the
Adamses of Suffield and
The fourth child was Elam Sikes, my grandfather, an
excellent carpenter, some of whose work I possess. Elam
married Sarah Lord King of Wilbraham,
Frederick, and Robert Sikes who never married, Laura Sikes who married
cousin Johnathan Emmett Sikes, Lucy Sikes, Mary Sikes, my mother, who
Andrew A. Henshaw.
Elam Sikes died June 25, 1852 aged 57 years. Sarah
Sikes died December 8, 1871. Her death and funeral was my first
the passing of one who had been very close to me. I can see now the
group gathered on the hillside, the open grave with the mound of golden
my weeping mother as she held my hand. The talk afterward about the
The youngest son Rufus Sikes never married. He died
April 2, 1836 aged 37 years. There is
also buried on the lot, Hannah King, my grandmothers maiden sister died
November 26, 1863 aged 62. Cyrus O.
Sikes is buried on the plot, the oldest son of Zenas Sikes. He died
1844 aged 27 years. As I remember he lived in the house now occupied by
Kent. He died of typhoid fever. I think they said that before he died
all left the room which was a sure sign that he would not live. A queer
about the insects which were later said to be one of the spreaders of
disease. Many young people died of the typhoid in those days. His widow
left with one child Cyrene who later
James Crane and went to Kansas.
mother built the house north of Spauldings green house now occupied by
In speaking of the death of Zenas Sikes at the turning
of the boat, my Uncle Robert Sikes said that someone was hurt at the
those early days almost always, due to the heavy timbers and too much
Mr. George Hendee who bought the Lewis Sikes farm, very
generously removed the marble Slabs which were becoming more or less
dilapidated also the old picket fence and some brush which had grown up
placed a boulder with a bronze tablet bearing the names of those buried
plot. He gave especial honor to David Sikes the Revolutionary Solder,
and had a
gathering of the D.A.R. and S.A.R. at
which time my brother Howard gave a brief historical sketch. There are
on the tablet.
My Uncle, Robert Sikes, once when working in the loft of
the old barn which David Sikes built moving away hay, struck his head
one of the roof timbers and said "A short barn built by a short man,
Grandad was only four feet tall."
John Robert Henshaw born October 2, 1865
September 9, 1953, at the age of 90. John was the son of Andrew Agustus
Mary (Sikes) Henshaw and great‑grandson of David Sikes the
Soldier. The bronze plaque was unveiled and dedicated on May 30, 1916
following is the account in the Springfield Newspaper on May 31, 1916.
UNVEILED AND DEDICATED
Exercises in Suffield at Site of Old Sikes
Members of various Patriotic Societies Deliver
May 30 ‑‑ descendants of David Sikes, a soldier of the revolution,
Mercy Warren Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution and of
Washington Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution, of Springfield,
residents of this place made Memorial Day significant this afternoon by
unveiling and dedicating a boulder to mark the site of the old Sikes
plot on the hillside of the George M. Hendee estate.
Sikes was born in Suffield in 1766 and the house
where he passed his life stood directly opposite and across the street
farmland that now makes up the Hendee estate. Mr. Hendee has preserved
private family Sikes burial ground by grading and sodding
and he gave the boulder that was yesterday
afternoon dedicated to David Sikes under the auspices of Mercy Warren
The boulder is of granite and faces west, half way up the hill. It
bronze plaque with the names of David Sikes
and 12 of his relatives.
hundred persons surrounded the boulder at 3 o'clock,
when Claude Barden of Agawam
opened the exercises by playing "The Star‑Spangled Banner" on a
cornet. Mrs Almon Jones of Agawam,
as master of ceremonies greeted the assemblage in the name of Mercy
Chapter. Before the boulder was
unveiled, addresses were made by Mrs. Mabel Warner Metcalf of Holyoke, regent
of Mercy Warren Chapter, and
Howard Henshaw of this place, a great grandson of David Sikes.
American flag was lifted from the boulder by Wallace
Henshaw, son of Howard Henshaw, and Allen Sikes, son of Judge Howard
both young men being great‑great‑grand‑sons of David Sikes. After the
prayer was offered by Rev F. H von der Sump of Agawam, and addresses followed by
Punderson, president of George Washington Chapter, Sons of the American
Revolution, and Mrs. Joshua L. Brooks, retiring regent of Mercy Warren
The exercises closed with the singing of "America"
and a benediction by Rev F. H. von der Sump of Agawam.
formerly know as Stony Brook, sent two
companies of soldiers to Boston in
the Massachusetts Minutemen were called after the battle of Lexington. The
records do not say which of
those companies had the name of David Sikes enrolled, but he went
the first and fought in the battle of Bunker Hill, or with the second
part in the siege of Boston.
He returned to Suffield in 1776, were he lived as a farmer until his
bronze tablet on the boulder faces the east and has
the following inscription:
This boulder marks the site of
Sikes Family burial place in which
were interred the following:
died Feb. 25th, 1827
wife of David Sikes,
died Feb. 25th,
died June 5th, 1834
aged 2 yrs, 3 mos.
died April 2nd, 1836
|CYRUS O. SIKES
died July 27th, 1844
died June 25th, 1852
died Sept. 26th, 1853
wife of David Sikes
died June 19th,
|LUCY S. ADAMS
wife of Roswell Adams
died Jan. 4th,
1860 aged 67
died Nov. 26th, 1863
|DAVID SIKES, JR.
died Aug. 2nd, 1864
|SARAH L. SIKES
wife of Elam Sikes
died Dec. 8th, 1871
Click to see
photo courtesy D. Scannell, 1992
Mrs. Metcalf's Address
A small American flag stood in front of the boulder.
Descendants of David Sikes exhibited as relics a pension paper for
wife, a silhouet picture of David Sikes smoking a pipe, and Mr. Henshaw
displayed a cane carved and used by David Sikes. The boulder stands
next to a
small sassafras tree, and under maples, oaks, beeches and white birch
Mrs. Metcalf was the first speaker and said in part;
"It is a privilege to come here today as regent of Mercy Warren Chapter
assist in the unveiling of this tablet to the memory of David Sikes,
Revolutionary soldier and patriot. The memory of the deeds and the
those men who gave of themselves so freely that a great ideal might be
will be as lasting as the granite of this boulder.
"To us is bequeathed the duty to defend and uphold
the ideals and rights for which our forefathers fought and died. Surely
era of the world's history when ideals are fighting against ideas, the
preservation of such memories and relics are peculiarly precious and
"I wish to express to George M. Hendee the thanks
of the Mercy Warren Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, for
generosity in placing this suitably inscribed boulder and for his offer
for it during the years to come."
Separate Burying Grounds
In giving the biography of David Sikes, Mr. Henshaw told
of the difficulty of getting information concerning residents during
years following the Revolution. The existent knowledge of the Sikes
secured from scattered relics, records and traditions handed down by
generations. Mr Henshaw told of the old custom of separate family
grounds and explained that David Sikes and his relatives were buried on
site of the boulder.
The first member of the Sikes family in this country, Richard
Sikes, came from England
in the 17th century and his three sons and descendants settled in
1665 or 1666. Suffield was know as Stony Brook in those days and
son of Richard Sikes, build a home near the present Hendee estate.
a son, Jonathan, who was the father of David Sikes. David Sikes was
9, 1755 in a house directly opposite the burial ground. Except for his
in the Revolution as far as the records indicate David passed his life
April 19, 1775, when the news of the battle of Lexington
was hurried across Massachusetts and the minute men were called to
British at Boston, Suffield sent 100 men under the command of Capt.
That company fought in the battle of Bunker Hill
and Mr. Henshaw thinks that David Sikes was one of the soldiers. If
did not go to Boston with those minute
went a few months later when a second company was sent, and took part
siege of Boston.
Mr. Henshaw said the records are hazy on that point.
David Sikes returned to Suffield during the Revolution
for one or two furloughs and finally returned in 1776 to resume his
as farmer. "As far as we know," said Mr. Henshaw, "David Sikes
never went back to the army. David was a man of small stature, short,
family used to speak of him as only three feet high. We have a pair of
trousers he wore and they would not fit my son. But we know that David
had all the determination, grit and vigor of the early New England men."
"It is well to do honor and reverence to those
men," continued Mr. Henshaw; "we little realize the hardships they
endured to carve a living out of an unsettled country and bring their
up with firm principles." After Mr. Henshaw's Address, the flag was
removed from the boulder by Wallace Henshaw, and son of Mr. Henshaw and
Sikes, son of Howard Sikes.
The purpose of the sons of American Revolution was
explained by Henry F. Punderson, president of George Washington
said that the history of the 140 years following Independence is more obscure than the
of the 140 years preceding that event. He mentioned that few graves or
landmarks of the people who lived before and during the Revolution are
preserved in this vicinity. "Thirty or more graves in this territory
about all we have," said M. Punderson. He told of the graves of
Revolutionary soldiers in Springfield
and said that in that section there are more than in any other place in
country. "That makes us feel that we are the trustees of their
peace," said Mr. Punderson.
Mrs. Joshua L. Brooks, retiring regent of Mercy Warren
Chapter, spoke on "Why We are Marking These Graves." she said that
the organization works for patriotic education and to restore
landmarks. "We are leaving something for our children," said Mrs.
Brooks, "and may the future generations bear in mind what we have
and carry on work, and remember the ideals that were our heritage."
The singing of "America,"
with cornet music
closed the exercises and a benediction was offered by Rev. Mr. von der
following great grandchildren of David Sikes witnessed the dedication:
Henshaw and his brother, John R. Henshaw, Leroy Sikes, Howard D. Sikes,
Judson Lyman of Agawam, Mrs Boyd Wilson, Mrs. Charles Fowler of
and Mrs. John Wilson. Several of their children, or great, great,
of David Sikes were present.