Kim Gautreau-Peare of Andover poses with her nephew Ethan Gautreau during a senior photo shoot at Woodlawn Cemetery in Andover in early September. Gautreau-Peare enjoys researching her ancestry and cleaning and repairing the old gravestones of the town’s cemeteries. In this photo, she and her nephew are in Woodlawn Cemetery at the grave of her parents, Rene and Evelyn Gautreau. Submitted photo

Kim Gautreau-Peare first became interested in her genealogy in 1987, after a great aunt passed away and she read through her aunt’s six hand-typed pages of ancestry research. “And from there I got the bug,” she said.

Along with that interest, she has been the president of the town of Andover’s Historical Society for a decade and this past year she became the chair of the town’s Cemetery Committee after being a member for the past five or six years.

Gautreau-Peare is passionate about caring for the gravestones and for other upkeep of the town’s cemeteries: Woodlawn Cemetery on South Main Street, Farmer’s Hill Cemetery on Farmer’s Hill Road and the Dunn-Morton Cemetery on East B Hill Road. She gives credit for what she has learned about cleaning and caring for gravestones to the Maine Old Cemetery Association workshops she has attended starting in 2016.

When and why did you become interested in Andover’s cemeteries and history? What started as a hobby turned quickly into an addiction. Due to the loss of a great aunt in 1987, I was given six hand-typed pages of genealogy regarding my maternal ancestry that she had researched at the local Andover library by reading from many books accessed in our little library through the inter-library loan program.

After receiving her work that’s all it took, and I was hooked, picking up where she left off. Through the years I’ve researched for family, friends and neighbors, and for the past decade I’ve focused diligently on Andover family lines.

Aside from working, for over this last decade I’ve held an active role as president for our local historical society, which aids me in continued historical research. Andover is rich in its history!


As far as cemeteries are concerned, I have always enjoyed walking through them and reading the interesting epitaphs and admiring the intricate carvings that those stone cutters created. Aside from tracing my ancestors’ relations over the recent years, I’ve trudged through numerous cemeteries to document where my ancestors are buried. Doing so has allowed me to at least have a photo of their gravestones where there is no ability for me to possess the actual portrait of the ancestor/relative themselves.

After seeing so many old gravestones deteriorating, I was determined to find a means of preserving as many as I possibly can.

The gravestone of Idell X. Learnard and his wife, Florence Marston, who are Kim Gautreau-Peare’s aunt and uncle, was photographed before it was cleaned by Gautreau-Peare. Ninety percent of the gravesites at Woodlawn Cemetery in Andover are for ancestors of Gautreau-Peare’s, she said. Submitted photo

How did you learn to clean and repair gravestones and what does the work entail? In 2016 I got interested in MOCA. MOCA is the Maine Old Cemetery Association. They are an incredible group that works to preserve Maine’s history through conservation and preservation of Maine’s many cemeteries.

Members partake in three to four workshops across Maine every year along with a wonderful and talented conservator, Joe Ferrannini from New York. They spend countless hours cleaning stones, resetting stones, repairing broken tablets, making new bases when needed, infilling broken marble stones where the old wrought iron pins have corroded over time and cause the bottom of the stones corners to disintegrate.

It was because of this group that I managed to apply so that the group could come to Andover and do a workshop for us. We worked diligently for four long days in our ancient part of Woodlawn Cemetery here in Andover.

As part of being a “chosen” cemetery by MOCA, the town and/or its volunteers are expected to continue the preservation/restoration work after MOCA leaves.


The gravestone of Idell X. Learnard and his wife, Florence A. Marston, who are Kim Gautreau-Peare’s aunt and uncle, was photographed before and after it was cleaned by Gautreau-Peare. Ninety percent of the gravesites at Woodlawn Cemetery in Andover are for ancestors of Gautreau-Peare’s, she said. Submitted photo

Have you shared your knowledge of cemetery caretaking with others? What types of people or groups have you taught or trained? Since that workshop, I have learned and reset many stones. It’s a long, ongoing project and anyone that is willing to stop in when I’m in the cemetery I share what I have learned. I’ve passed on my skills to a few locals, and one individual from the neighboring town of Roxbury. Since showing him, the town has established a cemetery committee, which they did not have in place. The members at this point are he and I, but I’m sure more will join in.

Last summer I was approached by a young lady, Virginia Owings, wanting to earn her Eagle Scout badge. I trained her one full day and passed over the reins to her and partook in watching her share her new knowledge to her den mates and Scout Leaders, as well as her parents!

Virginia did a terrific job and I am so proud of her. The current younger generation doesn’t appear to visit cemeteries like the families of our grandparents’ generation did. I’m hoping to change that!

Aside from the cleaning and repairs, it is key to document the stone, its identity and its marking and inscriptions on a paper sheet. A sketch of the actual stone is drawn free hand and all identifying information is notated. I chose to also take before, during, and after photos and have created an album of such photos and documentation sheets for every stone that has been worked on.

When I surrender my ability to do this work it will be gifted to the Andover Historical Society for future individuals to utilize for their genealogical research, as well as it being a historical preservational project should something ever happen to the old stones over time.

What projects and which cemeteries have you and other cemetery committee members been working on currently and over the past year? Predominantly, this year’s task has been to get estimates to establish new roads and avenues in the new cemetery annex across the street from our main Woodlawn Cemetery on South Main Street in Andover. There are few burials there (in the annex) at the moment, but plots will be sold and it needs roads reconstructed and gravel brought in as Woodlawn Cemetery itself is at full capacity.


Along with roadways, there has been a need for tree removal. The trees have basically exhausted their life span and it is time for most of them to go. Winters are harsh here and come spring many large limbs have been broken off during winter’s heavy storms. And when they break, they come down atop of stones and monuments causing major damages, which results in more repairs added to the ever-growing list of to-dos.

Another Andover cemetery that needs lots of work is that of the Farmer’s Hill Cemetery over on the east side of Andover. Its fence has been broken and its gate has been hanging by one hinge for many years. This summer I contacted a local carpenter, David Holtzman, and he offered to build a new fence and gate. He kindly donated his time to do so and will utilize the original gate hinges and latches preserving them. I have already visited a few times and taken photos of the existing stones and noted the needs necessary for there.

Andover also has a third cemetery. I bet people didn’t think Andover was so big!  It is known locally as the Dunn-Morton Cemetery or Surplus Cemetery. It is located on East B Hill on the way to Upton, Maine.

Many years ago, it was a fairly well-populated area, but due to rocky terrain it was not conducive to farming and eventually most of the original settlers moved closer into town. The county, Oxford, is responsible for the maintenance of this burial ground, but I have also documented it myself as I have ancestors buried within.

Kim Gautreau-Peare of Andover cleans a gravestone at Woodlawn Cemetery in Andover with her grandson Wyatt Salisbury in the summer of 2021. Salisbury has been spending time helping his grandmother clean gravestones in Andover’s cemeteries since he was 3 years old, Gautreau-Peare said. Submitted photo

How much of a time commitment does someone need to make to be on the Cemetery Committee and who pays for the tools for committee members to do their work? Time . . . it’s a commodity for sure! The past two summers I was in Woodlawn Cemetery almost daily, along with a friend, Alston Roberts, who I dragged in and taught the ropes to. After his first day, he was eager and inquired when the next workday would be. I replied, “How about tomorrow!” Unfortunately, due to such a rainy spring and summer, very little work has been physically done. This year’s time has been spent attending Cemetery Committee meetings, and selectman meetings, as well as the annual town meeting.

I got on the town’s agenda to request appropriate funds from taxation to continue tree removal work and to create a carry-over account so that funds could be built up to secure a tripod for the heavy work of resetting larger monuments, an easy-up so that we can still work in rainy conditions, and D-2, which is the biological solution used to treat the lichen and moss that loves to attach to monuments and tablets. Marble and slate are porous! Remember that what you put on them, goes inside them. I do not use bleach or anything acid-based, no vinegar and most importantly no pressure washing!! Should there be a hairline crack on a stone/marble tablet/slate tablet, using a power washer will blast that hairline crack open and cause damage. DO NO HARM first and foremost. (Some stones are simply too fragile to touch/scrub, but do document them as such.)


Use plastic trowels so as not to scratch the stones when digging around them, and wooden skewers and old toothbrushes come in very handy for cleaning gently inside the letters and filigree works. Clamps and wooden slats (are used) to protect the surface of marble or slate tablets when piecing them back together from their being broken in half, usually at ground level. (Stone breakage is caused) more often than not by lawn mowers mowing directly up against the stone.

This is where I need to say a very big THANK YOU to those that attended this year’s annual town meeting and voted almost unanimously to approve both of my requests. I am very grateful and appreciate the townspeople’s support, for without them I couldn’t keep giving back like I enjoy doing.

You’re also into dousing. Explain how and why you do that, please. Ah, yes. It can be very frustrating to see unmarked graves without a stone where you can visually see a depression and (you) have done the research and know the individual on the adjacent stone had a spouse. Dousing is one of those things where you’re a natural at it or you’re not. There is no witchery involved! I utilize copper rods. They are “L” shaped and on a swivel.

When walking in a straight line the rods should cross as I walk across where the depressed ground is. If they do not cross, that tells me that it’s an anomaly and that area of ground has never been disturbed (dug) although it may have a depression.

I’ve located broken stones buried beneath the sod in such plots, unearthing the gravestone, which I would reset in its alignment of the given row. Keep in mind, documentation is key. Document! Document! Document! Keep an ongoing record for our future. And first and foremost: “Do No Harm.”

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