We had an exceptionally beautiful morning for our tour of the Gurley Cemetery on Bonemill Road given by Micheal Carroll. A large number of folks came out to learn more about the recent rehabilitation and cleaning of existing and missing grave markers in the older section of the cemetery.
Our tour began in one of the far corners of the cemetery where a large number of discarded foot stones were excavated by Mr. Carroll and a number of his volunteers this past April. It’s is assumed that the foot stones had been removed and dumped at that location in order to facilitate easier mowing of the cemetery. Originally the foot stones in combination with the head stones marked the location of the interred. This helped avoid the possibility of disturbing graves as new rows were added over the centuries.
Mr. Carroll explained that many of the foot stones could be matched to their headstones by marked initials carved into them along with pairing stone types to still standing headstones in the cemetery. The foot stones were then placed close to their mated headstones in order to continue to make mowing easy to do.
Along with relocating the discarded foot stones Mr. Carroll’s group has been involved in extensive cleaning of headstones throughout the cemetery. There are many different kinds of stone used throughout this older section of the cemetery and it was surprising to learn that the steps to bring them back to their original glory was quite simple and gentle. Just some soft brushing with non-abrasive cleaners and if needed plastic scraping tools. Many of the stone types are quite soft and any aggressive cleaning would cause irreversible damage to these folk art pieces of history.
If you would like to find out more information on the restoration of other historic cemeteries in New England please you can visit the Rediscovering History Inc., through their Facebook group page.
If you visit please be careful around the head and foot stones. A hands of approach is advised due to their age and fragility.