NORTH SMITHFIELD – On a recent weekday morning, a small group of volunteers gathered among the shady trees and damp mulch of a historic cemetery on Smithfield Road. Here, among the broken headstones and iron fences separating one family plot from the next, the atmosphere is peaceful and quiet, broken only by the sound of a passing car or a distant weed whacker as a groundskeeper made his way through the adjacent Union Cemetery. The grounds of the historical section are clean and well kept except for patches of grass and occasional stumps between the cemetery’s many dirt paths.
As Richard Keene, president of the North Smithfield Heritage Association, explained, this was not always the case. A little over a year ago, passing drivers had no idea a historic cemetery existed to the left of the better-known Union Cemetery. A large wooded area obscured the graves from view, while many of the stones themselves lay on the ground, broken or moved from their original resting place.