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Group tackles plan to restore historic cemeteries

By Sarah E. Reynolds | Apr 16, 2021
Courtesy of: Jennifer Pierce Shorey Cemetery in Waldo is one of three historic burial grounds a group of residents is developing a plan to restore.

Waldo — A small but enthusiastic group of volunteers is developing a plan for the restoration and maintenance of the town's historic cemeteries.

Spokesperson Jennifer Pierce told The Republican Journal April 14 that the group is not an official committee of the town, but is working with First Selectman Kathy Littlefield, since selectmen are sextons of the cemeteries in Waldo. The group was announced to the town at the March 27 town meeting.

Pierce, who has lived in town more than 30 years, said she hadn't served on a town committee, but got interested in this project when Littlefield talked before the 2020 town meeting about the work that needed to be done on Evans Corner/Ellis, Hadley and Shorey cemeteries, all of which are historic burial groups that are no longer used for interments. Also involved in the effort are Deb Burwell, Steve Ellis and Judy Kaiser, she said.

She said the group is still in the early stages of assessing the condition of the cemeteries, determining what needs to be done and developing a plan of work. It has been in touch with the Maine Old Cemetery Association, which offers workshops on cemetery restoration and other resources. In addition, the group will look into the availability of grants for historic burial grounds and plans to create a Facebook page.

The cemeteries have great value for historians and genealogists, Pierce said, noting that all three contain the remains of soldiers from America's wars, going back at least to the Civil War. These sites need "tender, loving care" to repair stones and return them to good condition. The group will work on the cemeteries one at a time to complete the necessary work, she said, so the project will take years.

"We have enough manpower now to do what our first stages are," she said, but the group wants to get more townspeople involved because the burial grounds are a piece of history that belongs to the town. She hopes a list of tasks for additional volunteers will be ready in the not-too-distant future.

In Waldo's Evans Corner/Ellis Cemetery stands the stone of Civil War soldier James W. Bray, who died at 17. (Courtesy of: Jennifer Pierce)
The stone of John Eaton, a member of the 16th Regiment of the Maine Volunteers during the Civil War, is in Hadley Cemetery in Waldo. (Courtesy of: Jennifer Pierce)
Waldo's Shorey Cemetery contains the headstone of Civil War veteran George McKenney, "a soldier of 1861," who died of his wounds in 1879. (Courtesy of: Jennifer Pierce)
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