Lost graveyard recovered

Lost graveyard recovered

Ken Postle, left, is handed a $600 check for the Blackstone Valley Historical Society’s efforts to protect and maintain historical cemeteries in Lincoln by Lincoln Conservation Commission Chairman Jared K. Bethel, right, in front of the Angell family lot off Angell Road.
Postle finds site by Lampercock Lane

LINCOLN – Yet another historical cemetery has been uncovered by Pawtucket’s Ken Postle, who now has a handful of volunteers, including John Houghton, vice president of the Blackstone Valley Historical Society, lending a hand to recover lost cemeteries and gravestones.

In the area behind 4 Lampercock Lane, Postle and other volunteers uncovered and began to restore about 50 Quaker burials in late December, after working for nearly 10 hours. Postle had expected to find only three stones in the lot, which he originally thought was Lincoln 46, a listed but “unknown” lot with the Rhode Island Historical Cemetery Commission.

From Postle’s research and digging, he believes to have unearthed another historical cemetery entirely – not Lincoln 46. Postle works with transcriptions dating back to the 1880s by James N. Arnold, with little information to follow.

“You have to understand, he’s going out on a horse and buggy – 1895 – running around farmland,” Postle said. Much of these notes, he said, give directions in relation to farms and houses that are no longer intact.

The Lampercock site, Postle said, can be matched to a yard Arnold described in 1895 as Lincoln 45, noting 32 burials. Almost immediately after entering the area, Postle said, he spotted fieldstones sticking up. “This can’t be Lincoln 46,” he said he thought to himself.

He then followed his usual protocol.

Postle reaches out to neighbors, knocking on doors to notify residents of the work he’s doing and asks them if they’d like to join him. About 90 percent of the Lincoln residents he’s approached so far, he said, have been enthusiastic.

Within an hour of working in the lot alone, he found 24 burials off Lampercock Lane. The work is not yet done in this cemetery though, he said.

Volunteers joined Postle during his second trip to the site on Saturday, December 26, where they raked and cleaned out the area, pulling up the stones to stand them up.

They removed seven truckloads of leaves and debris, clearing the area, he said, and the crew worked from 8:30 a.m. to about 2 p.m. After assembling rows of these Quaker stones, Postle hit a stopping point – Lampercock Lane itself.

He believes the site continues on the other side of the road, because he saw field stones in that area. Postle will have to spend more time there to find out. The digging days are numbered now, however, with less daylight to work with and the ground starting to freeze.

Postle and his volunteers don’t yet know who lies in the cemetery, but he believes, based on Arnold’s notes, the Harris and Smith families are buried in the lot. Volunteers haven’t found any transcribed stones in the site yet.

Houghton remembers hearing stories of an Indian burial ground in that area and playing near the lot during his childhood. “None of us understood how the Quakers buried their deceased,” he said, calling the process of poking around and digging in historical cemeteries a learning experience. To find so many gravestones, he said, was surprising for him and many others in the Lime Rock area.

Now, Houghton said, his focus will be cataloging information about the sites and the stones that volunteers have found. “We don’t want to get too far ahead and lose information,” he said, adding that the town’s records will need to be updated as well.

“It’s been an eye-opener for me; it’s been very exciting,” Houghton said.

The Lincoln Conservation Commission has been overseeing this work, but Postle said he’s always looking for more volunteers to not only dig alongside him and restore stones, but also to continue research and to document the process with photos.

“I find the community to be incredibly friendly, and most people are very wanting to preserve the history,” Postle said.

He calls Lincoln “unique,” in that most cemeteries in town are filled with Quaker stones rather than the usual larger urban lots like those in Cumberland and Pawtucket where he’s worked.

Postle said he still hopes to see some type of additional compensation for homeowners as findings like Lampercock Lane arise, and known historical cemeteries are expanded through his work.

In the Lampercock site, Postle said, he wants to lay grass seed down to make the site more attractive and install a street sign that marks the area as a no-dumping zone.

To see Postle’s work and other historical cemetery findings in town, visit the River Road, Blackstone River and Canal Cemeteries Facebook page. For volunteering opportunities, contact Ken Postle at postle6@cox.net or the Blackstone Valley Historical Society at bvhsri@gmail.com .

Comments

Your seemingly tireless efforts are greatly appreciated.

April 16th has been declared by the General Assembly to be RI Historical Cemetery Appreciation Day and Lincoln is well on it's way to an almost full recovery of it's many formerly forgotten and neglected by time lots. Like we have done in Pawtucket and Cumberland, we hope to involve local school kids in the work and especially in recognizing the many Vets and authors and originators of the freedoms we cherish today. If you would like to be part of helping establish permanent information markers at these yards or want to see our Quaker ancestors remembered with some fun activities involving the kids, please feel free to contact us on our River Road Cemeteries Facebook site or Blackstone Valley Historical Society...Thank you everyone for all the help in restoring our history!

Thank you Ken and Jared for all of your hard work and efforts. It is nice to see that this is being done. I have been to many states in this country, all of which turn their historic cemeteries in to monuments. Most of that work is done by the Boy Scouts. RI however, for some reason has always neglected them. So it is great to see this being done, great work guys.

Ken is doing great work. He has a passion for it, and he now has many supporters in Lincoln.

for all your dedication and hard work.