Multiple gravestones at Riverside Cemetery off Maple Street in Paris are broken and in disrepair, but though the land is owned by  Riverside Cemetery Association, Town Clerk Elizabeth Knox said the town is responsible for maintaining veterans’ stones and old grave markers.  Jon Bolduc/Sun Journal 

PARIS — The dead tell no tales, and definitely can’t pay bills. And that complicates things at Riverside Cemetery, where dozens of stones have been knocked over and snapped.

According to Dana Chandler, owner of Weston-Chandler Funeral Home on Main Street, the Riverside Cemetery Association keeps tabs on the cemetery. Under normal circumstances, when graves are broken or disturbed, the responsibility falls on the families to fix them.

“The problem with this cemetery is that’s its so old and we’re so many generations removed, it would be impossible to know who to get in contact with,” Chandler said.  And, though some stones at Riverside are labeled as “perpetual care,” that only applies to the mowing and upkeep of the cemetery’s grounds.

“Perpetual care means they’re mowed and trimmed, but as far as the monuments being upright, it’s kind of the responsibility of the lot owners,”he  said.

According to an email from Paris Town Clerk Elizabeth Knox, by state statute, towns are responsible for maintaining any veterans’ or ancient monuments. According to Chandler, an ancient monument is one erected or established before 1880. According to a search of a document containing a list of graves sites at Riverside, the earliest seem to have been interred around 1830.

According to Chandler, this problem isn’t new.


“Several years ago we had the same issue in the same cemetery,” he said. “Sometimes it’s vandalism, sometimes it’s just the age of the grave, and the monument tips over. We were fortunate enough that the Masonic lodge here in Paris made a workday out of it. We’re always looking for volunteers who’d like a little project.”

And Chandler said that’s going to happen again, with help from the Oxford Hills Rotary Club. Knox spoke with Rotarians on July 17, and rounded up volunteers to help fix the stones within the next few months. According to Chandler, with a sizable crew the work should be completed within a day.

Most of the stones have been knocked over, so gravel needs to be added to the base to get them level again before the top part of the monument can be reset. Chandler said some of the really old stones have pins that go up through, so fixing them is pretty easy. Sometimes, the graves are so old that the pins have rusted off. Those are just glued back onto the base of the stone.

“It’s a job that requires some sand, and some manual labor,” Chandler said. “It’s a good day’s work with a crew. ”

Chandler said anyone interested in volunteering should contact Weston-Chandler Funeral Home or the Town Office.

A statue at Riverside Cemetery in Paris is one of many that need repairs. The Riverside Cemetery Association owns the land off Maple Street, but the town is responsible for maintaining veterans’ graves and ancient monuments. Town Clerk Elizabeth Knox said repairs will likely begin in late summer or early fall. Jon Bolduc/Sun Journal Jon Bolduc/Sun Journal


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