ENFIELD, Conn. (AP) – Three historic grave markers, remnants of an old Shaker community, have been removed from a prison walkway and will be presented Monday to a Enfield museum.

Maintenance workers at the state’s Carl Robinson Correctional Institution delicately chiseled the old stones out of a pathway Thursday and placed them in protective bubble wrap for the weekend, authorities said.

On Monday, they will be delivered to the Martha A. Parsons Memorial Trust, which will photograph and catalog the gravestones.

Dick O’Brien, chairman of the memorial trust group, said using the markers in walkways was not a sign of disrespect. On the contrary, he said, Shakers purposely used old stones for floors and walkways.

“The Shakers were a very practical people, and a flat stone was a flat stone,” he said.

The stones were part of the walkway before the prison opened on the property.

“The prison gets unfairly criticized for misusing Shaker things,” he said, “but the Shakers would have done the same thing with them.”

Eventually, the grave marker in the best condition will be displayed among other Shaker artifacts from the long-ago religious community in the Enfield house museum.

The Shakers are a Christian denomination who believe in social equality and simplicity. At their peak, they numbered about 6,000 nationwide.

A group of Shakers settled in Enfield sometime in the 1700s, and are believed to be the only such community in Connecticut, according to Russell Meyer, a trustee with the Parsons Memorial Trust.

Information from: Journal Inquirer, http://www.journalinquirer.com

AP-ES-07-05-08 1411EDT

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