QUEBEC-RESEARCH-L ArchivesArchiver > QUEBEC-RESEARCH > 2008-02 > 1202344777
Subject: [Q-R] Hartland cemetery removal challenged
Date: Wed, 6 Feb 2008 19:39:37 EST
Hartland cemetery removal challenged
HARTLAND — When Marcia Neal began to research her genealogy, she had no idea
she would find herself having to go to court to defend the graves of her
The Grand Junction, Colo., woman knew she had roots in Vermont, and after
tracing them back to Hartland she contacted the Hartland Historical Society to
see what she could learn. Neal e-mailed historical society vice president
Beverly Lasure, who, as luck would have it, has been involved in a long-running
project to catalog all of the gravestones in town.
Hartland has 15 small cemeteries, as well as a number of family plots
located on surrounding farmland. Neal learned that one of those burial sites, the
Aldrich-Kendall Cemetery, contained the graves of her
great-great-great-grandparents, Noah and Lydia Aldrich.
"It's funny the connection you feel with those people after 150 years," Neal
said of her ancestors, who died in 1848 and 1852 respectively. In addition
to the couple, the cemetery contains the graves of their granddaughters,
Louise and Martha Aldrich, who both died in 1850. There are also three rough-hewn
stones that may mark three other graves.
Lasure e-mailed Neal a page with a photograph and description of the
cemetery from "In Site of Ye Great River," a book published by the Hartland
Earlier this month, Lasure sent Neal further information about her family's
cemetery, this time a public notice of a prospective buyer's intent to
relocate the cemetery, which is located on private property. The notice said the
spouse, parent or sibling could object by filing a complaint with the probate
court, and even though Neal was none of those she sent a letter of complaint
to the Windsor Probate Court.
"The family bonds of relationship are strong even at this long remove," Neal
wrote in a Jan. 10 letter to the court. "They were buried there together
over 150 years ago (1848 and 1852) and it isn't right that they should be
The burial ground is located on property owned by the Unified Buddhist
Church and, according to Hartford Historical Society director Pam Mowry, is
neglected. The fence that surrounds it has not been painted in years and the grass
is not mowed, Mowry said. Neal herself said that she has never actually
visited the site.
Tom Giffin, president of the Vermont Old Cemetery Association, said that
while cemeteries in Vermont have been relocated to make way for new road
construction, moving a cemetery for private construction is pretty rare.
Giffin said that in 2007 a Shrewsbury property owner sought to relocate a
cemetery to make way for private construction, but relented after a challenge
in Rutland Probate Court.
"Most people with cemeteries on their property like to clean them up and
take care of them," Giffin said.
J. Michel Guite, the prospective buyer of the property containing the
Aldrich-Kendall Cemetery, said he would like to do just that after the burial
ground is relocated.
Guite said he and his family have been looking for a farm for a long time
but have been unable to find any viable prospects in the Springfield area.
Guite said that when he saw the 167-acre farm with a south-facing pasture he
fell in love.
Guite said the original farmhouse burned down about 50 years ago and the
house that was rebuilt has fallen into disrepair. Guite said he has hired an
architect with the idea of restoring the entire property to a working
19th-century-style farm. The proposed farmhouse would be much smaller and built into
the hillside, which would put it adjacent to the cemetery.
Guite said he would like to relocate the burial ground to another part of
the property and surround it with a stone wall.
Guite said he has an option to purchase the property as long as the dispute
can be resolved, but he said he wants everyone to be happy with the outcome.
"We want to be good neighbors and we want to be there for the next 100
years," Guite said. "The last thing we want to do is to upset the people whose
family is buried there. If it can't be done with everyone's approval, then
fine, this isn't the farm for us."
The Woodstock Probate Court will hear the case on Feb. 14 at 10 a.m.
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