By Jolene Hawkins
Did you know that before cemeteries were established, family was buried in a small family plot, or near the house? With so many causes of death from drowning in the creek, or a mill pond, to having a tree or limbs falling on them to lighting striking the person, cattle or horses injuring them, and of course the different wars, the small plots were filled up.
On July 6, 1864 , there was a dedication ceremony for Springville Rural Cemetery Association, where Charles Shuttleworth, Byron Cochran, Horace Spencer, David Bloomfield, James Richmond and Bertrand Chaffee were the trustees to help organized the plots and lots in the cemetery. The first burial was also in 1864, which was the 15-year-old son of Charles Severance who drowned and was buried in Section 3.
In 1882, The Springville Rural Cemetery Association decided to transform the old cemetery into a public park,( this is where the spray park is now) and the 500 people who were buried there were moved to the new cemetery, Maplewood. At the same time, it seems like several folks had the same idea as the deceased were transferred to Maplewood from 15 other cemeteries as well as family plots that were next to the homes still.
If you could get an aerial view of Maplewood cemetery (the trees prevent it), you would see that section 29 is in the shape of a heart. All of the roads within the cemetery were named at one time, but sadly are not used anymore.
As you walk among the statues and gravestones scattered within (over 8,000), each stone and lot has a story they could tell you. Toward the back of the cemetery is where St Aloysius Cemetery is located; there are no fences to separate the two cemeteries, but we have the records and maps at the Lucy Bensley Center so you can look up the person name and find out where they are buried.
We have so many small cemeteries all around Concord… Spaulding cemetery, Evergreen cemetery, Fairview, Pratham cemetery, Salem Lutheran cemetery and many more.
On all of the gravestones you may see information of the name of the person, date of birth, date of death, but will you find out anything else? Yes! If you look at the symbols on the stone, you can obtain information as well. How? A flower with the stem bent or with the flower still a bud, is usually representing a young person who has died. A flower that is fully open usually is an adult that has died. A weeping willow tree, a snake with its tail in its mouth is used for circle of life, a torch upside down, means life snuffed out to soon.
At the time, the Taylor monument was put up. It was the tallest one in the area. And then there is David Ingalls, the tall monument up front with the statue on top and a relief of the face about half way down it. He is listed as a Capitalist on the census, and it seemed to come from his giving loans out to people and they would pay him back. He has an interesting story as well. Mr. Ingalls left money to several churches and people, but not all got it… that is for another day.
You may also see what social organizations they were in, like the chain of three links is the International Order of the Odd Fellows, or a compass and square, for the Free and Accepted Mason. Military symbols are found as well, possibly the dates of when they served, if they were in the Fire Department, or Police Department.
We can see when the flu or other illness swept through the town, causing several deaths within a short time. Families used to go to the cemetery to take care of the stones and graves, and teaching the next generation about the family they are from.
Nowadays, there is a caretaker who keeps the grounds mowed and looking nice. The caretaker works on the cemetery year-round, picking up limbs when they fall, standing up the gravestones if they fall over. Families still plant flowers around the gravestones and add items on it, sometimes for each season. Before Memorial Day each year, American flags are placed on the Veteran’s graves.
So much can be learned as we walk amongst the deceased. Research can be done at the Lucy Bensley Center—Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call us at (716) 592-0094 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.