Monday, May 28, 2012

Disrepair of Veterans' Graves in Maine

As Americans celebrate the Memorial Day weekend, 2012, it should be remembered that the grave sites of many fallen soldiers have fallen into disrepair as well as being heavily vandalized by youth who lack the maturity to express anger and frustration in a less destructive manner.  Gravestones are smashed or torn out of the ground and stolen or thrown into the bushes in unmaintained areas of remote cemeteries.

Maine Statute provides for the maintenance and preservation of Veterans' graves but as we all know, funding is scarce in these difficult economic times.  The least expensive form of maintenance is prevention of cemetery vandalism.

§1101. Maintenance and repairs; municipality
In any ancient burying ground, as referenced in Title 30-A, section 5723, or public burying ground in which any Revolutionary soldiers or sailors or veterans of the Armed Forces of the United State of America who served in any war are buried, the municipality in which said burying ground is located shall keep in good condition and repair all graves, headstones, monuments or markers designating the burial place of said Revolutionary soldiers or sailors or veterans of the Armed Forces of the United States of America who served in any war and shall keep the grass suitably cut and trimmed on those graves from May 1st to September 30th of each year. [1999, c. 700, §1 (AMD).]

1977, c. 255, §1 (AMD). 1999, c. 700, §1 (AMD).

The following are a small sampling of poorly maintained or vandalized Veteran's gravestones found in the Central Maine region.

Mills Cemetery, Bradford, ME. Cast iron marker with zinc plaque.  Heavily rust.

Henry H. Rice
Feb 21st 1877
42 years and 4 months

Henry H. Rice served as a private in Co. B,  5th Maine Infantry

Photo taken 2008
Photo taken 2012

Eugene Lord
wounded in the assault
before Petersburg, VA. June
18.  Died at City Point June
25, 1864.  AE. 19 years.
2 mos. & 6 days.

Son of Augustus &
Hannah Lord

Eugene Lord enlisted Nov 30, 186 as a private in Co. F., Maine 1st Heavy Artillery Regiment.  According to Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Maine, Lord died June 23, 1864.

South Branch Cemetery (formerly Fiske Cemetery), Levant, ME
Levi Corson, Jr.
Co. F
1st Me.

Neglected graves of Levi Corson, Jr, who served in Co. F., Maine 1st Heavy Artillery Regiment and his son, Charles
South Branch Cemetery (formerly Fiske Cemetery), Levant, ME

William B. Elliott
A Member of Co. C.
11 Me. Regiment
Was KiLLed by the
hand of an assassin
Fed. 5, 1879
AE. 36 yrs. 11 mos.

Poorly cleaned stones in the heavily vandalized South Branch Cemetery, Levant.

South Branch Cemetery (formerly Fiske Cemetery), Levant, ME

C.H. Staples
Co. H.
22d Me.

Charles H. Staples enlisted as a private, Oct. 10, 1862 in Company H, Maine 22nd Maine Regiment.  Died May 5, 1863.
South Branch Cemetery (formerly Fiske Cemetery), Levant, ME

Gravestones were smashed and tossed into the brush where they have become overgrown.

The remote location of South Branch Cemetery makes it a favorite spot for teenage vandals to desecrate graves.  This scattering of ruined stones extends for several yards into the brush.  A broken United States flag what once marked a Veteran's grave lays discarded in the foreground.
Vandalized Marker
Hillside Cemetery, Bradford, ME
of pure affections...
He meekly gave up all for Christ
And felt to die was gain.

Jumbled stones in the woods beside Hillside Cemetery, Bradford, ME.  Vandalized and discarded stones include those of Civil War Veterans. 

Corner Cemetery, Bradford, ME

Charles A. Edgerly
Son of Eben &
Bashaba Edgerly,
died at Washington, D.C.
Aug. 9, 1861,
AE. 25 yrs. & 4 mos.

To live in hearts of those we love
Is not to die.

South Dover Cemetery, Route 15

In memory of
John F. Bryant
a member of Co. I. 5
Regt. Me. Vols. killed in
battle at South Mountain, Va.
Sept. 14, 1862
AE. 38 yrs. 6 ms. ---

South Dover Cemetery, Route 15
Charles D.
Son of James R. & Betsey B. Crommett,
A member of Co. K. 31 Reg
Me. Volunteers who died May 21, 1864,
AE 17 yrs. 6 mos & 6 days

How we have loved thee!
A father's anguish hath revealed full well,
A mother's gentler sorrow long will show,
And  tears that in thy sister's eyes yet swell,
And brother's sighs and friends that mourn thee now,
Speak how we loved thee.

North Dixmont Cemetery

The sunken, unmarked grave of Captain Samuel Getchell lays beside the marked grave of his wife, Sarah, beside which the local Veteran's leave a flag.

North Dixmont Cemetery

Wm. T. Gray
Feb. 21, 1864
1st Regt Heavy Artillery

Cummings Cemetery, Parkman

John R. Sprague
2nd Lieut. of Co. D.
8th Regt. Maine Vols
died July 15, 1862,
AE. 22 yrs. & 8 mos.

Henry H. [son of]
Orrin & Mary A. Sprague
died June 22,  -----
AE 15 yrs. & 2 -----

South Levant Cemetery

For more information about how to help preserve Maine's cemeteries, visit the Maine Old Cemetery Association Web site at: