B y Lee Tugas
The Whitehall Village Board will let a village resident stand up fallen stones at the small cemetery called Boardman Cemetery, but at his own risk.
Mayor Peter Telisky, at the recent meeting of the village board, said that he had received a request from Peter Terry.
Terry, Telisky said, had asked for permission to point up the fallen gravestones of his predecessors.
“I have a lot of ancestors,” Telisky reported Terry as saying. The mayor said that Terry, when weather permits, intends to load a cement truck on a pick-up truck and drive to his ancestors’ gravestones.
There, he will use the cement to stabilize the base and point up the fallen stones.
Liability discussed by board members
Trustee Ken Bartholomew pointed out that Boardman Cemetery was located at the corner of Boardman and Smith Streets. According to International Cemetery Records Online and Findagrave.com, Boardman Cemetery is a very old and very small cemetery, with 17 to 35 people interred within its grounds.
The cemetery is not affiliated or maintained by any local church or cemetery association. A village official reported that the village maintains the grounds of the cemetery, mowing it during spring, summer and fall.
Village Attorney Erika Sellar Ryan said that Terry could work on repairing his family gravestones, but that he would have to sign a liability release from the village. She also advised the village against giving Terry any assistance in his work, since that could render the village liable for any unforeseen accidents, she said.
“He didn’t ask for anything,” Telisky reported.
Thinking ahead to the spring thaw, Trustee Bartholomew advised that Terry should keep his pick-up truck within the cemetery roadway, or it might sink into spring softened ground.
Carol Greenough, of the Skenesborough Museum, reported that such family repairs of cemetery plots had been approved by small town boards in Vermont and had proven quite effective in maintaining older, un-affiliated cemeteries.
In a recent letter to The Granville Sentinel, former Granville Town Historian Edith Sparling wrote that old graveyards are not only “outdoor museums,” but also the repository of a community’s “history,” of its “founders.”
“These old yards are worthy of the best of care,” Sparling wrote.