I am part of a volunteer group working on First Parish Burial Ground and Clark Cemetery. There has been a lot of talk around about the goats that have been placed there to help out and I was wondering if you would publish my article more about the humans who are working there. We are in need of more volunteers and would love to segway from the goats into that.
Thank you very much.
Goats are awesome but we need people too.
Up at the First Parish Burial ground the team of goats is happily munching away a section of the brush. The volunteers however don’t have such luxury. The overgrowth and neglect that the cemeteries have suffered is great. We are only three out of town people who are hard at work reclaiming the proud lost history of Gloucester’s people and military service. It is true that these cemeteries were not designed as more modern one with space for people to visit but we would like the change that. The first step is getting them cleaned and safe. We have been working diligently every weekend over the summer and have made giant strides towards that goal.
Now that a lot of the clearing for First Parish has been done it is time to focus on the smaller Clark cemetery behind it. Rose bushes, berry bushes, trees and bamboo have overtaken this sacred space. Using the website findagrave.com we have started to connect people with their ancestors in Clark and First Parish. Those connections to our past are why it is important for us to do this work.
On our first day of clearing a few months ago in First Parish we met a family that had come down to see a grave of one of their ancestors. They were unable to find it as the age of the stones makes it hard to read them. But over the course of the day we were able to find it for them and emailed them the location for them to visit again. The next time we were there a lovely bunch a flowers had been left.
More recently after the first article ran in the Gloucester Times I contacted an online commenter on the article. He had said that his family owns a plot in Clark Cemetery. Through a few emails I asked him where the plot was and invited him to come down to show us where to clear out. By the time he got there last Saturday we had already figured out the location of his family and had cleared it for him.
Robert had not been able to go to his family’s plot since before 2008 due to the overgrowth. He told us that he used to come a few time a year to see the plot of his Great Grandmother and kin to leave geraniums. Originally we were told that the last person buried in either cemetery was in the 1920’s but Robert informed us that the last person laid in his family’s plot was in the 60’s. We were so happy that he is now able to go to the plot without having to wade through tough overgrowth and that he is able to come back to continue his tradition of honoring his history.
There are other stories like this but we do need the help of the community. There are only the three of us doing the work usually (light)rain or shine, with the exception of lighting. You can find us there on Saturdays after noon; we are Rachel Meyer, Josh Gerloff and myself Crystal Daley. Anyone coming to volunteer their time is only asked to dress for work. Jeans or other work pants, comfortable shirt (you will get hot working) and comfortable sneakers or boots. Tools are also welcome to be brought and used. The most helpful tools we have found are trash bags, tarps, rakes, clippers of all sizes, brush cutters, weed whackers, saws and we could use one or more people with chainsaws for some dead trees that have fallen over.
If you are interested in helping out we are excited to work with you. We would love for anyone to come down to help out. There is something for any skill level to do. If you would rather donate instead of volunteer that is also helpful. You may email me at email@example.com and I can answer any questions you might have on donating or volunteering with us. I look forward to having more stories like Robert’s in the near future.