FARMINGTON — With a light covering of snow over the Red Schoolhouse Cemetery on Tuesday, indentations in the ground were more obvious.

They indicate burial plots. Headstones have probably sunk into the ground over the past couple centuries. Come spring, a group of employees from Wal-Mart and others may clear brush, find and help restore stones in the cemetery.

Farmington Wal-Mart Manager Greg Patterson will bring the idea before the Board of Selectmen on Nov. 25, Town Manager Richard Davis said. The cemetery is owned by the town and listed as the Red Schoolhouse-Briggs cemetery on the town website.

The idea started when Patterson and Matt Packard were around the back loading zone of the store. Patterson showed Packard the cemetery next to the store property.

A lot of stones are missing. Some have toppled over. Brush and trees line the rock wall barrier. Three graves are marked as those of Revolutionary War veterans.

“We thought it would be a good idea to clean up the brush, find and restore stones and adopt the cemetery as a store project to help the town maintain it,” Patterson said.


If Patterson can get 50 employees to donate time, there is the potential for a $5,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation, he said. The funds may be enough for a flagpole.

“There’s a lot of interest at the store,” Patterson said.

He contacted veterans Charlie Bennett of Farmington and Don Simoneau of Fayette. Three weeks ago, Simoneau started research on the cemetery.  

Five more veterans who don’t have stones have been traced, Simoneau said.  He expects there are more.

“It’s a work in progress,” he said. “It is all written down somewhere. We just have to dig to find old records and information. It is our history.”

Simoneau wanted to see the cemetery covered with snow. Although few stones still remain, he expects there could possibly be 100 graves. When the brush is removed, more stones may be found along the wall, he said. Sometimes family members on the outs with the family or church were also buried outside the walls, he said.


He provided Patterson with information on probing for missing stones and suggested checking with the University of Maine to see if ground penetrating radar is available. A University of Southern Maine class used it on a similar project, he said.

Looking at the toppled gravestone of a man who died in 1835, many are of the age when able-bodied men ages 18 to 45 were required to serve in the militia, either in Maine or the Massachusetts militia prior to 1820. That is why so many served in the War of 1812, the Mexican–American War, the Civil War and World War I, he said.

Simoneau is working from a list of stones done in the 1990s by Nancy Porter of Farmington. 

There are a lot of Butterfields in the cemetery, she said. Many are from the neighborhood and over toward Orchard Drive in Wilton, she said.

One of the prettiest stones she identified as being white slate appearing like a Mother of Pearl for Jonas Butterfield who was killed by lightning in 1809. The stone is now dark and the writing covered by moss.

The cleanup and restoration work needs to be done, Simoneau said.

“It’s not about looking back and placing blame,” he said.  “It’s about looking forward and saying what can we do.

“It is easy to remember the ones we buried last week but easy to forget the ones who are our heroes,” he said.

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