HISTORY & LOCAL LEGENDS
Lady In Granite, Penn Yan, NY

Chris Clemens, Exploring Upstate

31 May 2014
Matilda Gillette was born in 1859 and later married her husband Francis, who was 9 years her junior, and they lived happily together in a home in Penn Yan on Garfield Ave. In 1936 Matilda Gillette passed away and was buried in Lakeview Cemetery on West Lake Road in Penn Yan in the family plot. Unfortunately, that’s about the only set of facts that the stories converge on.
Story One: Francis and Matilda were so madly in love that they vowed when one of them passed away, the other would not remarry. When Matilda passed away, Francis waited no time at all and jumped back into the dating pool and married a young woman. Not long after the new romance, locals noticed that on the large, black granite tombstone where Matilda was buried a white spot appeared in the shape of Matilda’s face laying with her head on her pillow facing upward–her appearance indicating that she was none too happy about Francis’ new lovelife. As Francis spent much of his time walking through the cemetery, he became unnerved and had the tombstone replaced with a brand new one, and the same exact spot in the same exact position appeared again. Unfortunately, the kids who toss this story around fail to tell their new ghost story victims that Francis actually died before Matilda in 1929 and is buried is in the same plot.

The Lady in Granite.

Photograph by Chris Clemens

Story Two: In another version of the story, Francis Gillette was an abusive husband, and when Matilda died, she appeared on the tombstone so that when Francis visited her he would feel haunted by her presence. Again though, he passed away first.

Story Three: In this one, Francis was an unfaithful husband, and Matilda vowed to haunt him in the afterlife for his indiscretions.

“The story that has been passed on is that the white spot on the black granite is the image of Matilda Gillette”

Story Four: Francis and Matilda did not get along well as a married couple. While Matilda was on her deathbed, Francis mumbled something about how he couldn’t wait until she was finally dead and he could be rid of her. Upon hearing him say so, Matilda claimed she would haunt him in her afterlife and that he’d never truly be rid of her. But remember, he died first.

The Lady in Granite.

Photography by Chris Clemens

Unfortunately, no historian has been able to confirm any of the accounts that refer to the personal life of the Gillettes. The only fact that remains set in stone, is that there is indeed a white form that has appeared on the side of the tombstone.

Chris Clemens is a Rochester resident born and raised. He is one-half of the duo responsible for Exploring Upstate, a blog about visiting unique and historical sites in Upstate New York. For more, you can follow him on TwitterInstagram and ‘like’ the ETBOD page on Facebook!

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