Old Graveyard Association
May 10, 2003
The spring meeting of the New Hampshire Old Graveyard Association was held at Goshen, NH on May 10, 2003. President Joan Casarotto presided. The meeting began with the Pledge of Allegiance.
Lars Nelson, member of the Goshen Cemetery Commission and Arthur Jillette, welcomed us. They briefly described the cemeteries of Goshen. There are three main cemeteries in town: North Cemetery, Four Corners and Mill Village. Mill Village has considerable individuality in gravestone inscription, which Lars encourages. He finds many modern cemeteries "sterile" and lacking in character. He has continued a long-term rehabilitation project that was begun nine years ago by his predecessor, Arthur Nelson. He enlisted the aid of the young people of the community to help paint fences. Four Corners has suffered some vandalism. It has been repaired.
He related an incident in which an older man approached him as he was digging a grave for the man's son. The man was heartbroken over the loss of his son. Two weeks later he was digging a grave for the man himself. He encourages relatives to help dig the grave for a loved one.
After this indtroduction, Joan Casarotto called the regular business meeting to order. Clark Bagnall read the minutes of the fall meeting.
Doris Ashton, Corresponding Secretary, reported that the volume of correspondence has been low. We have published queries in the Rubbings in the past, but there have been few queries submitted lately. As always, she needs articles for the Rubbings.
Jean Mertinooke read the Treasurer's report. She reported a current balance of $2,686.12. Her report was filed. Jean also mentioned that when sending material for the Rubbings, be sure to note the date and the source of the article.
Ann Sottery gave the Auditor's report. She has examined the Association's financial records for the fiscal year May 1, 2002 through April 30, 2003, and finds them to be in good order.
Clark Bagnall gave the Records Committee report. He noted that Trina Purcell has accepted employment in Denver, CO, and has resigned as Records Custodian. Clark will assume her duties.
Clark Bagnall gave the Computer Committee report. He noted that the new web site is up and running, although the committee had not met the original target date of November 1. It was completed during the second week in November, due to unanticipated problems converting it from Windows to Unix.
Joan Casarotto announced the remaining meeting schedule for 2003. For the July meeting we will be the guests of the Friends of the Valley Cemetery at the Valley Cemetery in Manchester. The fall meeting will be in Derry. We need meeting places for 2004.
The nominating committee nominated the following slate of officers for 2003:
|Barbara Benoit||First Vice President|
|Ingrid Smith||Second Vice President|
|Joan Casarotto||Recording Secretary|
|Doris Ashton||Corresponding Secretary|
The slate was elected unanimously.
Joan Casarotto announced that a committee has begun revising the cemetery restoration handbook. The new edition will be completed over the summer.
On the recommendation of the Executive Board, a motion was made and seconded to raise the dues to $10.00 per year, effective May 1, 2004. The new rate will apply to both individuals and organizations. The motion was passed.
Following the business meeting, Clark Bagnall gave a brief presentation on the new database program. He introduced Pat Cutter who has been using the program to enter cemetery inscriptions for the town of Andover. He distributed a handout showing the program's various data entry screens and explained the information that each screen represented. Members were encouraged to use the program to record thegraveyard inscriptions in their own towns.
Lars Nelson introduced our speaker, Reggie Sheppard, a Goshen resident and local historian whose primary interest is in the Civil War.
Mr. Sheppard noted that when he was a youth, he and his friends were warned by their parents to "stay out of the cemetery". However for some families this was the only open space where it was safe for children to play. Families that settled in Goshen during the early years included the Langs, the Grindles and the Rands. Shortly after settling in Goshen, Benjamin Rand and his family experienced a very hard winter. They ran out of food and nearly starved. Their youngest child died, and Mrs. Rand was forced to breastfeed a five-year old child. As soon as the roads became passable Benjamin went to get seed. The closest place to buy seed was in Walpole. In addition to the cemeteries and graveyards from the historic period, there are also many Indian graves scattred around town.
There is a race car driver buried in Four Corners Cemetery, interred with the door of his race car. A young lady, also buried in Four Corners, committed suicide. She was a member of the local sewing circle. One of the other members had a very fine pair of silk gloves that turned up missing. Eventually it was discovered that the young lady had taken them. It was told that her suicide was a result of the scandal over the gloves, but in fact she was pregnant. Also in Four Corners was a grave with a glass window in the coffin so the deceased could be viewed even after burial. There was a similar burial in Newport. One woman, after burying her husband in such a grave, was reported to have said, "I just wanted to be sure he's still there."
Many residents of Goshen lived long lives. "Aunt" Ellis Grindle lived to be 104. Shortly before she died there were six generations of her family living in Goshen. John Chandler lived to be 100. He was famous for building "plank houses". John McCrillis also reached the century mark. Early in its history the town owned a hearse. It also owned a bier that was stored in one of the schools when not in use.
Thirty-seven residents of Goshen served as soldiers during the Civil War, twenty-five of these are buried in town. Most of the ones who did not survive the war died of disease. One was thrown overboard from a ship. The Gunnison family was numerous in Goshen before the war. There were several brothers. John Gunnison went west and helped persuade California to "go north". Later he wrote the first history of the Mormons. He was killed by Indians in Utah, but many think the Mormons were behind the attack. Another Gunnison brother went to Iowa to look for homestead land. His route home took him through New Orleans. He settled in Louisiana, and fought for the South in the Civil War. Two Goshen residents served in the 5th NH Regiment during the war. Others served in the 16th that was badly decimated by disease.
Mr. Sheppard noted that the research he did in preparation for his talk was most interesting. He learned different lettering styles and found many interesting spellings. Not too long ago the various parts of town were separate communities that seldom had much contact with the other parts of town. There were two post offices and six schools. Many residents graduated from college. There may even have been a pirate in town.
After luch we toured Four Corners and North cemeteries.
Clark H. Bagnall Recording Secretary