If you go to the Chenango County Chamber of Commerce website you'll find a bit about a boy in a tomb who was afraid of the dark.
So the fable goes, Merritt Beardsley told his father, William, in December of 1865, that he didn't want to be left in the dark when he died; therefore there's a tomb with a window in Miller Cemetery outside of Oxford, NY. The thing is, this history is based on a story from a book of Upstate folktales: Oxcarts Along the Chenango [Oxcarts Along The Chenango by Roy Gallinger; published 1965 Fay Edward Faulkner, Heritage Press, Sherburne, NY.]
Here is the Oxcarts story.
which is referred to by the historian of Oxford town, which is the basis of the history being presented to news journalists [Press and Sun-Bulletin 10/31/06] and tourists. Every reference is coming right out of the Gallinger tale which admits its source as a folktale, "the story of little Merritt Beardsley has been forgotten by all but the very old folks."
Another interesting fact of the tomb is that the kid's name is spelled wrong above the window(Little Merrits Tomb) but correctly (or maybe both are wrong) on the birth-death marker. While it's believed as part of the tale, that the writing above the tomb was added after the kid died, there's no reference to it in the Oxcarts book- besides for Gallinger using the adjective 'little' a whole bunch of times in the story when talking of Meritt, his hands, a grove of pines...
So the inscription could have been added in the 1960's or later, or it may have been there since the kid died, but it probably would have been corrected by the immediate family. Although, I tend to believe that the people of the area and the chamber of commerce took notice of the story when it appeared in the Oxcarts book; then it became official history, then the inscription was placed above the tomb.
Now for the folklorist; it's obvious that no one was around when this kid died, so a dialogue between the kid and his father couldn't be recounted by the "very old folks" to the collector. So imagine that Gallinger is told about a grave of an 8-year-old with a window, maybe it doesn't have the inscription above yet, and so Gallinger tells the tale of a little boy who's afraid of the dark- of his own accounting; maybe the bit about being afraid of the dark was already a part of the folktale.
My interpretation is more mundane, that the family wanted to view their son after he died, much like windows into tombs throughout history ala Lenin, a zillion catacombed Italians- specifically the perfectly embalmed little girl behind the glass window. So the family is forgotten, and a folktale emerges from middle-of-nowhere York State, remembering a beloved son who was afraid of the dark.
Does the tomb window get the light of the morning sun every day of the year?
Is Gallinger still alive, if not, how can we recover his sources for this folktale?
What year was the inscription made?
What is the real spelling of this kid's first name?
This story has been reappearing in upstate newspapers since at least the 1970's, was it ever referred to in the Norwich Sun/Evening Sun before 1965?
Does the historian of Oxford town know more folktales than history?