Workshop On Restoration At The Old Presbyterian Cemetery
by David Flint
As promised, Joe Ferrannini of Gravestone Matters, Inc. returned to Stephentown’s old Presbyterian Cemetery last Saturday for a workshop session on restoration work. Following an introductory session on May 5, the workshop was planned for June 2 but was postponed due to bad weather that day. [private]Ferrannini brought all the equipment needed and directed a group of ten historically minded volunteers in proper stone cleaning procedures, straightening of stones and making simple repairs. Ferrannini even brought an ample supply of cold water and pop-up tents to shield workers from the ninety degree heat and humidity. The Cemetery Committee of the Stephentown Historical Society provided a barbecue lunch and other refreshments.
Despite the heat, the group learned and accomplished a lot.
In addition to the many gravestones that were cleaned, five gravestones were repaired and reset in their proper places. These included the grave markers of two young children of Nelson and Susane Parker. Both children died in October of 1857, Franklin R., who died on October 22 at the age of six, and Charles L., who died October 29 just one month shy of his fourth birthday. For these stones, the base stones were unearthed, Charles’ stone, that had been broken off at the top, was repaired with epoxy and both stones were reset in their bases with a special cement.
Other stones that were repaired and reset included those of John Franklin Russell, 15 year old son of Frederick and Eliza Russell, who died in March of 1851 and Mariett Russell, the daughter of John and Sarah Russell, who died in 1838 at the age of 20. According to Historical Society records, George Holcomb’s 17 year old daughter, Charlotte, was one of the pall bearers at her funeral at the Seventh Day Meeting House. Another stone that had been broken in three pieces with much of it buried in the ground was repaired and reset. That was the stone of Sarah Humphrey Russell who died in June of 1857 at the age of 77. She was the wife of John Russell and the great grandmother of Dr. Antoinette Russell, Stephentown’s eminent pioneering woman doctor.
There is a lot more work to be done in the Presbyterian Cemetery, but, with a core group trained in proper methods, it is hoped that others will take an interest and lend a hand. The Men’s Group at the Federated Church, which has in the past kept the cemetery mowed and clear of brush, will undoubtedly swing into action under the leadership of Ted Bears, one of the volunteers at Saturday’s workshop.
At a meeting of the Historical Society on Monday, President Marilyn
Douglas Osgood thanked Ferrannini and the Cemetery Committee, comprised of Patricia Flint, David Cummings and Linda Sullivan, for their dedication and hard work.[/private]