Saturday, June 20, 2009

New Worst Caretaker Award: South Berwick, Maine

The other day I received a phone call from a woman in tears. She was sad and angry because a piece of her families history had been destroyed. The town was indifferent, and had little interest in protecting something it seems to think of as having little value.

History is made of many heart beats, and when those hearts die, they go to rest in cemeteries. They and the historic artworks made during their time to mark their places are precious and deserve to be recognized. Too many people responsible for protecting these places don't realize this lesson.

The cemetery of the Free Will Baptist Church was severely damaged recently, and much to the dismay of many a descendant and local South Berwick historian many of their forefathers' gravestones have been lost.

If you'd like to help with your voice, contact the town manager of South Berwick through their contact form or call them at (207) 384-3300 or write them at 180 Main Street, South Berwick, ME 03908.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Upcoming Event: Walking Tour of Medfield's Vine Lake Cemetery

Walking Tour of Medfield's Vine Lake Cemetery, June 13th

On Saturday afternoon, June 13th, Vine Lake Preservation Trust will sponsor a two-hour walking tour in Vine Lake Cemetery. Starting at 2:00 pm, “Discover Vine Lake Cemetery” will be an overview of landscapes, landmarks, and legacies within the cemetery which dates from 1651.
●What date is on the oldest marked gravestone?
●Which historical family has the most gravestones?
●In which year did the most burials occur? What were the causes of death in that year?
●What three distinctive landscape or gravescape styles can you identify?
●At which gravestone is buried the 4th great-grandfather of Edgar Rice Burroughs, the creator of “Tarzan?”
●What’s the view from inside the public holding tomb?
●Which of Medfield’s 13 founders are buried here?
●What geological features can you identify?
●Where are the paupers’ graves?
You are welcome to bring water and wear walking shoes. Plan to meet at the lake. Parking is on the paved roads within the cemetery; please so not park on the grass.
Admission is $5 a person, students under 16 free. A rain date is Saturday, June 20th, at 2:00 pm.

Inquires are welcome at
More information is available at

Worst Attended Cemetery Award: Newburyport

I've just returned from giving an individual tour of the Old Hill Burying Ground in Newburyport, Massachusetts. This small, seaside city is normally known for its beauty and rich history. Aside from the fact the grass has yet to be mowed, that trees and other plants are overgrown and overtaking gravestones...
that some of this has died and come crashing and smashing down then left to rot...
that there are twice as many broken gravestones since the last time I visited...
that the place is full of numerous animal holes located just where you forget to look where you're going...
The city has left this resting place of their founding fathers derelict, disregarded and disrespected. I'm a little disgusted.