Feature Story

Notes and Comment #1

Editor’s note: Fifty-eight years ago, in October 1959, the Vermont Old Cemetery Association, was one year old and published its first newsletter, then called Notes and Comment. Next year is our 60th year and we will be looking back at our history so that we can look forward to the next 60. Here is our first newsletter!

The VERMONT OLD CEMETERY ASSOCIATION got off to a very good start at the organizational meeting on Saturday the 18th of October 1958. The eleven persons who were present at this first meeting became charter members of the Association.

Dues have been set at $1.00 a year. We have also established a memorial membership of $5.00 each which may be taken out in memory of some relative or friend.

Our membership has been growing steadily and the spring meeting on the 2d of May 1959 was quite well attended. Several DAR groups and granges have joined and also the Vermont Society of Daughters of 1812. Currently our membership is over the 200 mark and we have members from 17 different states and from 69 towns or cities within Vermont.

Just as a reminder: -- The purpose of the Vermont Old Cemetery Association shall be to encourage the restoration and preservation of neglected and abandoned cemeteries in the state of Vermont and to provide an opportunity for the interchange of ideas in regard to reclaiming and maintaining them.

Any interested person may become a member upon payment of the annual dues ($1.00). Let's all try to get one person to join. We are hoping to get at least one member from every community in the state and from each state in the Union.

How do you like our letterhead? We think it is very nice and most attractive. It's time to say "thanks" to Richard D. "Dick" Keller for designing it for us.

Your secretary has had many interesting letters and from many different sections of the country...asking questions, telling us what others are doing and some of them just saying "keep up the good work". During this our Festival year, many have written to tell what has been done in their communities to 'spruce up' the old cemeteries so that they would be "show places" for the visitors.

Now that fall is approaching...let's think about the old graveyards a bit and consider what should be done so that they will survive the rigors of the Vermont winter. Some of those old stones that are toppling over...how about getting the Scouts to lend a hand and prop them up a bit more firmly. Have you burned off the brush this fall or are you planning to? Got the fences mended and the old gate back on the hinges? We will have some beautiful weather for a while yet and it will be a grand time to get the notebook and pencil out and copy off the inscriptions before they are completely obliterated on those stones that have crumbled so badly.

Leon Dean, our president, has been doing a grand job for us on publicity. Have you seen the many nice newspaper articles that have appeared? Incidentally.... how about clipping them, putting on the name of the paper and the date and sending them along to me for our scrapbook. Mostly I see only the Burlington area items. Leon has had several magazine articles as well and one in particular even used a sketch of him on the front cover. The May issue of "Concept-the Journal of Creative Ideas for Cemeteries". This is the trade publication of the Interment Association of America, Inc.

A questionnaire was set up and sent out to each of the communities in the state and we are most gratified at the response. We have asked if funds were available for maintaining the older cemeteries; if they had a cemetery association; how many cemeteries in the town; how many still in use and similar questions. Your secretary is cataloging this information that comes in so that it will be of help to us.

Did any of you take 'before and after' pictures of the cemetery in YOUR town? If so...won't you send them along...we would like to be able to use them for some publicity.

Incidentally...I am sure that many of you have had some interesting experiences in your 'reclaiming projects' ... why not write and tell us so that we can share the news in our next issue of VOCA Notes and Comments.

This might be a good time to remind you of what the Englishman, that noted statesman, Mr. Gladstone, had to say:

"Show me the manner in which a nation or a community cares for the graves of its dead and I will measure for you with mathematical exactness the tender sensibilities of its people, their loyalty to high ideals and their respect for the laws of the land."

Many letters come in asking where certain graves are located. As yet we have had very few actual listings of grave locations or epitaphs sent in. If you have any records..we will be glad to catalog them for reference purposes if you will send them along.

Some towns are putting a tax on the grand list to secure needed funds to take care of the cemeteries; other towns vote a set amount at town meeting. Still others have had the time and money contributed as a 'project' by a grange, DAR chapter or legion or other civic group. Many towns report that the Scouts will help to clean up the old cemetery.

Saturday the 31st of October (1960) at 10 a.m. in the Bixby Memorial Library in Vergennes, Vermont has been set as the time and place of the annual meeting. We hope that you are planning to come and that you will bring at least one friend with you.