Old Vermont graveyard to be moved because of erosion

Vermont

FILE – In this Dec. 10, 2019 file photo, Don Mason, then-chairman of the Weybridge, Vt., selectboard looks at gravestone of Revolutionary War soldier William Haven, who is buried in a cemetery near the edge of an eroding river bank in Weybridge, Vt. After erosion washed away some graves at an old Vermont cemetery near a river bank, the remains of two Revolutionary War soldiers and others buried there will be moved to a new resting place. (AP Photo/Lisa Rathke, File)

After erosion washed away some graves at an old Vermont cemetery near a river bank, the remains of two Revolutionary War soldiers and others buried there will be moved to a new resting place.

Revolutionary War soldier Josiah Clark, who fought at the 1775 Battle of Bunker Hill in Massachusetts, was buried in the Stow cemetery in Weybridge in 1835. Erosion over the years left his grave perched on the edge of the steep eroding bank so his bones were exhumed in 2019. Revolutionary War soldier William Haven is also buried there, a bit farther back from the bank.

The roughly 20 graves eventually will be moved to the Old Weybridge Hill Cemetery.

An archeological team from the University of Vermont is now working to remove graves, starting with the ones most at risk, along the bank, Tom Giffin, president of the Vermont Old Cemetery Association, said Monday.

“I feel relieved that they’ll not be washed over the bank and go down Otter Creek. I thought that was awful wrong,” Giffin said. “My big thing is this is a history of the United States, as well as a history of Vermont, as well as a history of Weybridge.”

The headstones of Josiah Clark, a Revolutionary War soldier, and his wife were removed from a cemetery near the edge of an eroding river bank in Weybridge, Vt. (AP Photo/Lisa Rathke, File)
After erosion washed away some graves at an old Vermont cemetery near a river bank, the remains of two Revolutionary War soldiers and others buried there will be moved to a new resting place. (AP Photo/Lisa Rathke, File)

The archeological team, including students, started their work last week and the first reinternments are expected to take place next spring. The team is likely to remove the remains of at least two individuals this year, said John Crock, director of the university’s consulting archaeology program.

“The plan is to do the work over the upcoming years, working first with those most threatened. The way the cemetery is oriented there have been individuals that already were affected,” he said.

The remains will be kept at the university temporarily.

“We’ll have some time over the winter to prepare them for reinternment but in the course of that do some analysis and identity the pathologies that the individuals had or anything that contributes to the understanding of their life stories that’s kind of different than we know,” he said.

The cost is expected to be covered by donations and what the town has put in, Giffin said.

“If we don’t value a soldier and his family, somebody who fought at Bunker Hill and another soldier who served under the command at Lexington and Concord, that’s wrong,” he said. “To have everything wash over the bank and be gone forever for people who served at the founding of our country, it’s wrong.”

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