Members of the American Legion William J. Rogers Post 153 received an unwelcome surprise recently when they visited a local cemetery to place flags at veterans’ graves.
“Our purpose was to flag the graves of veterans buried in the cemetery, but that changed when three family members with relatives buried there arrived and shared with us their pain over the cemetery’s condition,” said Post Commander Paul Bernard. Many of the cemetery’s headstones are lying on the ground and some are broken in several places.
“As we were looking the cemetery over, we were feeling the same pain,” Bernard continued. “It wasn’t the dollar figure for repairs that was so troubling, but the personal pain to the descendants.”
The cemetery is commonly referred to as “Auburn Plains Cemetery,” “Plains Road Cemetery” and “Pleasant Plains Cemetery.” Some say it was first called “Poverty Corner Cemetery,” possibly referring to the fact that few rich people were buried there or that it includes a paupers area in its north corner.
Bernard points to one of its denizens as evidence of a rich history. “In what has become known as a ‘poor cemetery,’” he noted, “we have a grave remembering Noah Waterman, a Revolutionary Soldier who served the Commonwealth of Massachusetts under James Churchill in 1775, Peles Wadsworth in 1776 and Ebenezer Washburn in 1777.”
“We had adopted this cemetery from VFW Post 1603 just to place American flags, but now our purpose will have to change to restoration,” Bernard said.
Small efforts toward this purpose have already begun. As Bernard and Post Sergeant-at-Arms Don Beaulieu were placing flags, they were approached by Rick Gammon, President of Gammon Landscape Nursery on Route 4 across from the cemetery. He gave Bernard and Beaulieu a flat of New Wave Petunias to place in two urns that had not housed real plants in years. Norman Rose, a local resident who helps maintain the cemetery, is also working to map the site and organize its history.
For more information on helping to restore the cemetery, write to Paul Bernard at firstname.lastname@example.org.