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Friends of Oakdale Cemetery Keeping Busy With Fall & Winter Projects

The public lot is along the southern edge of the old part of Oakdale Cemetery.

Story and photos by Zendelle Bouchard

The Friends of Oakdale Cemetery came together this year with a three-fold mission of documentation, cleaning of gravestones and markers, and repair and restoration of gravestones in Sanford’s largest cemetery.

Burial Records Project

The group’s current focus is the daunting task of identifying gaps and errors in the Cemetery’s burial records. Valerie Owen, a retired Sanford High School computer technician, is heading up the project to enter all the Cemetery’s original burial records, which are on index cards, into a spreadsheet, which will become a valuable tool for future researchers. She is working with new Friends member Amy Merrow under the supervision of Dan Guillemette, who is in charge of the records. The spreadsheet is then compared with the City’s Oakdale Cemetery website (oakdale-cemetery.com) and with the actual gravestones to identify errors. In the first 644 entries, which comprise the A’s and part of the B’s, they found:

  • 35 had no cemetery cards
  • 53 had cemetery cards but were not listed on the cemetery website
  • 2 were buried before the date of death
  • 7 possible duplicate records for the same person
  • 38 spelling differences in first, middle, and last names
  • 32 burial date differences
  • 64 burial location differences

Friends member Nadine Gookin is working on registering graves on the Find a Grave website (findagrave.com), which is used by people all over the world who are tracing their family history.

Repair & Restoration Projects

Ken Allan and Joe Doiron have spearheaded cleaning and restoration efforts. Work has been completed on the repair of ten stones in the Huston family plot (see our previous story). An original slate headstone belonging to Revolutionary War veteran John Huston was unearthed after having been buried for many years. The slate stone, which is in excellent condition, was temporarily placed at the back of Huston’s newer DAR memorial marker. A permanent base will be installed at some point in the future.

Revolutionary War veteran John Huston’s original slate stone, where it was discovered under the sod in front of his DAR memorial marker

Joe has enlisted students in the Auto Body Program at Sanford Regional Technical Center to sandblast and paint a memorial medallion belonging to John D. Whitehead, which was found by a Friends member while cleaning along the perimeter of the Cemetery. The plan is to possibly secure the medallion to a stone base to discourage any future mischief. Mrs. Whitehead’s matching medallion is missing.

SRTC Building Trades students have been enlisted to make three new mahogany crosses for the graves of unknowns in the public lot on the southern end of the old part of the Cemetery, to match the new cross for Marguerite Russell that was installed over the summer. Research is continuing to identify these unknown burials and locate missing graves believed to be in the public lot.

A stone belonging to Sadie Millman was discovered knocked off its base. It was originally thought to be vandalism, but on closer inspection appeared to have been hit by a vehicle. It was reset with the help of Parks Director Brian Desrochers.

Over the winter the group hopes to get approval for other repair projects, once the issue of liability insurance is resolved.

A damaged stone belonging to Ellen Secker was found in the Goodall family plot. It has been removed to the Moulton Memorial Chapel for safekeeping until it can be repaired and reset.

Friends members toured the Chapel recently and discussed potential repairs. One of the original stained-glass windows was badly damaged by vandals several years ago, but could be replaced with one from the office in back of the Chapel. The windows have been boarded up since the damage occurred. In recent years, the Chapel has been used for storage of Cemetery equipment, but a future goal is to restore it to its original use as a Memorial Chapel. If anyone has old photos of the Chapel, they are asked to contact Joe at 207-351-7797 and leave a message.

L to R: Debbie Doiron, Amy Merrow, Val Owen and Joe Doiron met recently to tour the Moulton Memorial Chapel at Oakdale Cemetery.

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