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New Hampshire

Old Graveyard Association

May 12, 2001


The spring meeting of the New Hampshire Old Graveyard Association was held May 12, 2001 at the Plummer Homestead of the New Hampshire Farm Museum in Milton, NH. President Joan Casarotto presided.


Clark Bagnall read the minutes of the Fall 2000 meeting; they were approved with one correction. Doris Ashton announced the schedule for our 2001 meetings. Doris Ashton, Corresponding Secretary reported that she needs articles for the Rubbings.


Jean Mertinooke gave the annual Treasurer's report; she reported a balance on hand of $2,488.59. Doris Ashton read the Auditor's report, prepared by Ann Sottery. No significant discrepancies in the Treasurer's accounts were found.


Louise Tallman gave the records custodian's report. She noted that the cost of copying the maps has gone down. Much of her work has been in mapping the sites on the USGS maps. She has sent copies of the maps to several towns. Any one town may spread across several maps.  Louise also maintains a file folder on each town. If the town has a coding system for their sites, those codes are used; otherwise Louise assigns a code for each site. A few towns remain to be done. A few others may need to be converted from latitude and longitude to the UTM coordinates used by NHOGA. It was noted that the copies of USGS maps are not free. The Board will look into the costs and decide on the appropriate reimbursement.


Since Louise is retiring as Records Custodian, the Board presented her with a new printer for her computer in recognition of her many years of hard work. Clark Bagnall noted the excellent quality of her work, and pointed out that the database Louise created is now the basis for our web site.


Bonnie Dutton spoke on Milton Cemeteries. She had invited Judge Eugene Nute to the meeting, but he was unable to attend. Bonnie noted that since the original survey of sites, several more have been found. Some are only single graves. There are some cases of known burials near old cellar holes, but the actual location has not been found.


Bonnie mentioned the two sites that were planned for the afternoon's tour. The first site was established by the Hayes family in 1873. Not long after it was sold to the Nute family. The receiving tomb reads Hayes, but it is known as the Nute cemetery. The right to be buried in this cemetery for free has been granted to all residents of East Milton. Some of the stones date from the time of the Civil War, some even earlier. There are many Nute and Varney family burials. There are also a few fieldstone markers. The Nute family has been very philanthropic. The trust fund that they established for this site exceeds its expenses. The second cemetery to be visited is even older. It has stones for Revolutionary War veterans.


Florence Davis, the new Director of the Farm Museum, was the next speaker. Previously she had worked for the Mary Ball Washington Museum in Virginia, located at Lancaster Court House. Also included are the old Clerk's office and an old jail. The museum had a genealogical library with a card index that recorded the name of every person in every book. There were difficulties in researching old slave cemeteries. The primary problems were insects and poison ivy. Some gravestones were found in an old archaeological site. Lancaster County has many old records that were preserved by hiding them during the Civil War. Later these records were stored in the courthouse, the clerk's office and the jail. None of these buildings had electricity or running water. Before WWII a group was formed to preserve the old buildings. They obtained legal responsibility for the structures. The jail was the first restored. 125 years of graffiti was painted over. The group was incorporated in 1958. Their document collection consists of 2000 items and their physical collection has 500. They are always discovering new documents and cemetery sites. Several original deeds were discovered, signed by colonial governors, including Thomas Jefferson. There are many Civil War records. One document was signed by an Indian named Turtle-at-home. Many of the documents relate to domestic items. Some of the documents were still in the original families. These documents should be donated to a museum for proper conservation. Color copies can be made so that the family will have a record. Never hang old documents on the wall. Physical items placed on display must be allowed to rest for the same length of time they were displayed. A laboratory has been established to restore old Civil War battle flags.


Memorial Day was an important holiday. Families frequently had picnics in the cemetery to celebrate the day. City cemeteries were the first public spaces.


Lancaster County is a very rural county. Steamboats were a primary means of transportation for the period from 1828 to 1938. Many family reunions are held in the area. Tobacco farming was a common occupation. Tobacco is a very labor-intensive crop. Seeds are planted in seedbeds in January and transferred to the fields in April through June. A hogshead of tobacco weighs about 1000 pounds. Much of the local economy was based on barter. By tradition, the tobacco industry operates without any written contracts, a practice that is still observed today.


Clark Bagnall gave the computer committee report. The programming language is being changed from Visual Basic to C++ to give more control over the program format. Work meetings were held over the winter. Trina Purcell displayed the new forms for recording cemetery information. These forms were also published in the spring issue of the Rubbings.


Louise Tallman noted that a cemetery in her area had been involved in a traffic accident. The stones will be replaced using insurance money. Louise was able to provide the complete wording for each damaged stone including capitalization and line breaks. This demonstrates the importance of keeping complete cemetery records.


Trina Purcell was thanked for the work she did in creating the Association's new logo. The logo made its first appearance on the cover of the spring Rubbings.


The Nominating Committee presented the following slate of officers for the coming year:


President -- Joan Casarotto

First Vice President -- Barbara Benoit

Second Vice President -- Ingrid Smith

Recording Secretary -- Clark Bagnall

Corresponding Secretary -- Doris Ashton

Treasurer -- Jean Mertinooke

Auditor -- Ann Sottery

Records Custodian -- Trina Purcell

Scrapbook Custodian -- Nancy Van Doorn


The slate was elected.


Dr. Don Linebaugh, who spoke at our previous meeting, will speak in Bradford in July.


After lunch we toured the two cemeteries mentioned above.


Respectfully submitted,


Clark H Bagnall

Recording Secretary.