Happy Valley Wildlife Management Area in Oswego County, New York holds a secret: in the 1800s, this area was home to a hamlet called Happy Valley. Little remains of this once thriving community. During the Great Depression, the government bought up foreclosed farms to form the basis of this game reserve.
The area is covered in marshy terrain and pine forest. In summer, biting flies and mosquitoes swarm the lowlands. Several unimproved, dirt roads travel through the area. A few wells, foundations, and stone walls remain.
Most commonly, the curious visit Fraicheur Cemetery, established in 1850 and christened after the original French name for the area. Headstones date from the mid-to-late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Preservationists have preserved and repaired over a dozen headstones.
There is a second cemetery, hidden in the woods down a side trial. Probably a pioneer cemetery, the graves are marked with simple slate stones. There are no visible markings on the stones to indicate who is buried there.
There appear to be approximately ten burials, although some of these could be headstones and footstones. There are two square granite stones marked with single letters that may be boundary or lot markers.
Residents didn’t move out all at once, but over the course of many years. Happy Valley Wildlife Management Area is located off U.S. Route 104 and County Route 26 in Oswego County, New York. It is free and open year-round to the public. If you visit this hollowed ground, please be respectful.