Friday, September 16, 2011

Friends of Middleborough Cemeteries

The mission of the Friends of Middleborough Cemeteries is "to preserve, maintain, and restore the cemeteries located in Middleborough, including the graves, burial grounds, and burial plots; to promote an improved awareness of the history and care of Middleborough cemeteries; and to preserve and promote the memory of those persons interred within Middleborough."  A worthy cause, indeed.

There has long been a need for such an organization within Middleborough.  In the absence of a cemetery commission, many small neighborhood cemeteries and individual gravesites with no owners to provide for their upkeep have been abandoned and left to deteriorate.  Many have been lost forever. Several gravesites known to residents a century ago are no longer locatable with any certainty.  Active cemetery associations also have historically struggled financially to provide the maintenance required for larger cemeteries.  In 1867 and again in 1873, complaints lodged with the proprietors of the Central Cemetery indicate that that cemetery was challenged with the upkeep and maintenance of its grounds, as was the Nemasket Hill Cemetery.  In 1948, Leon F. Anderson of the Rock Cemetery Association noted the "extra effort" that was required "to get in [ever] more money for care of lots", a difficult challenge still facing cemetery associations today.  Vandalism, unchecked vegetative growth and the elements, have further promoted the deterioration of some stones, particularly the white marble markers favored in the mid 19th century.

The Friends hope to arrest this trend, by promoting the preservation and maintenance of the community's historic cemeteries, and they are deserving of the community's support.  To help foster awareness of and interest in their activities, the Friends have recently launched a website, a link to which has been provided for readers in the right-hand sidebar.  Additional links to Middleborough cemetery histories are included in the Local History Books section further down in the right sidebar, as well.  Please help foster the worthy cause of cemetery preservation in Middleborough by supporting the Friends of Middleborough Cemeteries.

Illustrations:
Tack Factory (Leonard) Cemetery, Taunton Street, Middleborough, MA, photograph by Mike Maddigan, mid-1990s.
The cast iron ornamental fencing stacked at the side of the Tack Factory Cemetery indicates the pride in as well as the attention once given this cemetery which served the Tack Factory neighborhood near Bedford Street, as well as the need for an organization to take charge of Middleborough's smaller cemeteries, many of which now lie neglected.

Richmond Family Markers, Tack Factory Cemetery, Taunton Street, Middleborough, MA, photograph by Mike Maddigan, mid-1990s.
Grass, trees and shrubs left unchecked have damaged many grave markers in Middleborough cemeteries, including the two Richmond family markers pictured here.

2 comments:

Wendy L. Callahan said...

What a wonderful and worthwhile endeavor! It makes me sad to see so many unkempt cemeteries, and then of course there are the "lost" ones.

During one excursion to Manomet, I found that White Horse Cemetery is behind houses on a cul-de-sac! It doesn't seem like anybody really takes care of it. :(

Bravo to the new Friends of Middleborough Cemeteries!

Preservationist said...

I applaud the efforts of the Friends.

I have two ancestors buried there: Thomas Frederick Leonard (1778-1847), and his wife Sarah (Sally) - née Murdock - Leonard (1778-1821)

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