Waterford group seeks to turn cemetery over to the town

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WATERFORD — Voters will be asked to take over the Woodlawn Cemetery in North Waterford when annual town meeting gets underway at 9 a.m. March 1 in the municipal building on Valley Road.

The action, part of a 67-article warrant, asks the town to accept ownership and maintenance of the 2.5-acre Woodlawn Cemetery on Five Kezars Road, about half a mile past the North Waterford Congregational Church. If accepted, it would be the fourth town-operated cemetery in town.

Additionally, the action would accept the association’s $6,600 cash, including cemetery and perpetual care trust funds, that would be expended as directed by law or the terms of the trust funds.

Voters will also be asked to raise and appropriate $1,300 for the care and maintenance of the cemetery. The town previously has appropriated funds for the care of the cemetery, said Cemetery Superintendent Bill Haynes.

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The transfer of the property to the town would add Woodlawn Cemetery to the  other town cemeteries. They include the 10-acre Pulpit Rock Cemetery on Route 118 built in 1998 to accommodate 2,500 graves when the private Bisbeetown Cemetery became full in 1997. The town also owns the historic Elm Vale Cemetery in South Waterford.

The request came from the association, which members believe was formed in the early 1900s. Activity in the association has dwindled over the years, said Carolyn Cairns, treasurer of the Woodlawn Cemetery Association, who said she joined because of her father, who was a Trustee.

“It’s just because we don’t have very many people doing this,” Cairns said of why the association wants to turn over the property to the town.

Cairns said duties of the officers are limited. They get calls to buy a lot, then stake it out and do the paperwork.

Cairns said the deed for the cemetery dated Oct. 3, 1903, from William A. Manning and his wife, stipulates that an association be formed with a moderator and officers, that they incorporate the association, chose a clerk to keep records, have meetings, bylaws and so forth. It appears the association was formed about 1920, Cairns said.

Cairns said the cemetery is not very active. Last year, the association sold half a lot. The year before, four lots and in another recent year, no lots were sold.

Haynes said the Woodlawn Cemetery lots would be sold at the same rate the other town cemetery lots — $300 each.

It’s unclear how old the cemetery is but it appears the cemetery may have been laid out well before the nearby North Waterford Congregational Church was built in 1860. According to records, there are graves in the cemetery that date back at least to the early 1800s.

For example, Lt. Thomas Green was buried in the Woodlawn Cemetery in 1826, according to family records. Green was first bound out to a tavern keeper, then learned the trade of making women’s shoes. He served in the French and Indian Wars and in the Revolution before moving with his family from Rowley, Mass., to North Waterford in 1788. Other family members are also buried in the cemetery.

Voters also will be asked to raise money for the upkeep of graves and general maintenance for the other cemeteries in town. Voters will be asked to raise $500 for the Bisbeetown Cemetery; $4,300 for the Elm Vale Cemetery and $750 for the Pulpit Rock Cemetery.

ldixon@sunjournal.com

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