Harrison Lutheran Cemetery

31 Mar 2017 3:36 PM | Debi Curry (Administrator)
In order to understand the history of the Harrison Lutheran Cemetery Association it is necessary to study the organization of the Harrison Lutheran Church from its beginning in the early 1900’s. The Lutheran Congregation in Harrison was organized in 1913 and was called the Harrison Pulkkinen Suomi Evangelical Lutheran Church. At this time there were quite a few Finnish families who had migrated to this area since it resembled their native homeland of F inland. After first meeting at cottage services, the Finnish people built their own church on Maple Ridge where they held services until 1931 when they purchased the former Congregational Church building in Harrison Village. The name of the church changed over the years to Harrison Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church and in the 1990’s to the Christ Lutheran Church.  During the early period of the Lutheran Church, they purchased land from Victor Pulkkinen in September of 1913 for a burial ground. A later deed of April 1925, from Victor Pulkkinen, was a right of way to the burial ground This cemetery is located in South Harrison near Carsley Brook near what is now Bud Andrews residence. 

With the change in location of the church from Maple Ridge to Harrison Village the members purchased a new cemetery site that was made available by Peter Pulkkinen by deed on May 21, 1932 to the Harrison Pullrkila Evangelical Lutheran Church. The new site was more accessible to a good highway than the South Harrison site. This land is located in Harrison on the comer of Summit Hill Road and Route 117. On March 22, 1963 the church purchased additional land from the Nummela and Suomela families so that presently the cemetery grounds include the entire open field surrounding the fenced area. The church members maintained the care of the grounds. The early members who were buried in the South Harrison cemetery are still remembered and visited by relatives who live in the area. 

In the late 1960’s the Harrison Lutheran Church members decreased so that it became necessary to merge with the Trinity Lutheran Church of South Paris. The Church buildings were subsequently sold to the Seventh Day Adventist Church The remaining members were concerned at the time of the merger transition that the cemetery, which was always maintained by the church, would not be neglected. They approached the idea to organize an association especially for the cemetery care. 

In March 1968, at a meeting held at the church office in South Paris, the Harrison Lutheran Cemetery Association was formed as a non-profit charitable organization At the time of the first meeting a discussion was held concerning what the name of the organization would be. It was pointed out that the name of the cemetery had been filed with the Secretary of State when the cemetery was started over thirty years before, so all agreed it would be best and most appropriate to continue with the same name. The group’s legal adviser was Frank Bjorklund. The chairman of the Christ Lutheran Church Cemetery Committee was Robert Heino, therefore, it seemed fitting that he be selected to be the President of the Association. Bruno Leino was selected as Vice President, Saima Pulkkinen as Secretary/Treasurer and the four Trustees were E. John Nurmi, Toivo Kyllonen, Walter Leino and Martha Leino. The President, who is Director, and other officers and Trustees were to prepare the by-laws which would be presented later. Attorney Dow finalized incorporation procedures. He handled the necessary legal details. On June 21, 1973 the Harrison Lutheran Cemetery Association was legally organized. The Association’s preamble states that it was formed for the better preservation and maintenance of the last resting place of all who lie buried in this Harrison Lutheran Cemetery and to inspire now and in the future generations a high sentiment of regard for this final resting place. The Association is interested in perpetuating the cemetery’s history through the loving care shown by its members and honoring and preserving the members of all who are buried in this ground. 

The serious work then began in the fall of 1973 to take care of whatever necessary changes and maintenance need to be done new deeds, by-laws, liability insurance and manual work, i.e. repairs to fences, painting, mowing, filling in sunken graves, raking in the spring, etc. In 1976 a new set of by-laws was drawn and reviewed and accepted. In 1977 it was voted to have the Associations annual meeting on the first Wednesday of May. In 2006 it was changed to the second Wednesday in May. 

Finances and how to better invest our funds for the best profit were brought up each year as it was hoped much of the cost of yearly maintenance could be recovered from the interest on our funds. A money market account was opened in 1983. Perpetual care costs were added to the sale of lots as separate prices. A CD account was opened later, primarily from perpetual care funds and other memorial donations, which were received over the years from various families to help defray cost of maintaining the grounds. 

During the 1980’s the Department of Transportation began making plans for road reconstruction on Route 117, which would affect the roadside by the cemetery. The D.O.T. was to give information concerning roadways, ditches and proposed driveways. The D.O.T. offered $750 to the Association for land adjusted because of the road improvement. The offer was accepted and put in the general fund The actual roadwork was finally completed around 1990. 

Over the first few years mostly member volunteers did the maintenance of mowing the grounds. Robert and Mabel Heino worked many hours to keep the grounds looking well groomed. In 1990 Daphne Chaplin, who lives across the road from the cemetery, offered to do the mowing and she has been doing this fine maintenance work to date. She is a very dedicated and caring worker. We have been fortunate to have her help. 

Until the 1990’s, the cemetery was enclosed with a white picket fence, which was showing years of wear so that the members began to study various types of new fences. Alter several years of discussion it was decided to replace the old picket fence with cross fencing or woven board fencing. 

In the fall of 1990, Robert Heino and Martha Leino gave a talk on the cemetery association at a meeting of the Finnish American Society. Eva Bean reported that the Finnish American Society wished to donate a granite stone with name plaque to be mounted at the cemetery entrance. Ed Rolfe offered to move it and set it by the gate of the cemetery entrance. The stone, given by Mac and Eva Bean of Waterford on behalf of the Finnish American Society, has a bronze plaque displayed on it. The dedication of the stone and plaque was held on May 25, 1992 at the cemetery on Route 117 in Harrison. Those participating in the ceremony were: Rev. Henry Leino, Barbara Payne, president of the Finnish American Society, and Robert Heino, President of the Harrison Lutheran Cemetery Association. Special recognition for this project went to Ed Rolfe and Dana Chaplin for transporting the granite stone and to Ed Kaustinen for mounting the plaque on the stone. The Association was very grateful and appreciated this meaningful memorial donation from the Finnish American Society. In 1993 the Lobb family donated several flowering trees and a concrete sitting bench to be placed inside the cemetery, as a memorial to their mother. 

With the new fencing project it would be necessary to take down the old picket fence and the area expanded to the edge of the woods. The old wire fence from the back of the grounds needed to be taken down It was voted to have all the new ground plowed, rototilled and seeded. Eugene Leino did much of this work. The road edge of the Summit Hill Road would be lined alternately with large stones and fir trees. Robert Carlson offered to donate the fir trees needed for the project and Robert and Mabel Heino donated the large stones.  This natural fence of trees and stones has really added to the appearance of the grounds. As the trees have grown they have been pruned by Harold Leino to keep their boughs looking trim. 

At the 1995 annual meeting Robert Heino reported that the new fence work was finished. A dedication for this new cemetery enlargement and fence was held on May 27, 1995. A brief service of commemoration and dedication was held with Rev. Henry Leino conducting the service. This work, done over the past two years had enlarged the grounds, installed a new wooden woven fence and a natural fence of stones and trees along the Summit Hill Road. With its completion it has enhanced the appearance of the cemetery. 

In 2003 a special newsletter was sent out to let members know of the extensive work being done on the cemetery grounds and the need for funds. It was hoped that memorial donations or other contributions would help in this endeavor. 

With the enlarged area of the grounds the big issue discussed was how to plot the new graves. A new map showing how the lots would be arranged was to be called the Harrison Lutheran Cemetery Association Plot Plan of Harrison, Maine. Before starting the new plot plan it was decided to make a row of single lots in the last row of the old area. 

It was suggested that the local technical school at Oxford Hills draw up the computer plan for the lots in the new section of the cemetery. Daphne Chaplin would supervise this student project. The new lots would all be single lots of four feet by ten feet. Several computer print outs have been made but corrections are be made Considerations needed to be made regarding roadways, pathways, lot corners, etc. 

As changes have been made over the years, it has been necessary to update the original by-laws. The lot sizes and prices have changed from what they were; therefore, this matter will need to be addressed. The old section was divided into rows of one-half, three-fourths, or full lots. The new vaults used now are larger than before. Today we have people preferring cremation, also, which determine what lot size their family might need. The new plot plan is not complete as of this date. The members will attempt to consider what the future needs will be and plan accordingly in order to be satisfactory to everyone. 

Since the cemetery grounds have expanded there have been many favorable remarks made about the well-kept appearance of the grounds. Much of the praise should go to Daphne Chaplin for the fine mowing maintenance she has done over the years. We have had many dedicated hard workers who have helped to keep the grounds, fences, etc. in shape. The small hrs, which Robert Carlson donated in the early 1990’s, are now good-sized trees and with the stones donated by Robert and Mabel Heino make a fine natural fence and with the new woven board fence it really enhances the appearance of the grounds. 

Each year American flags are placed at each of the veteran’s graves as we remember their service to our country. There are increasing numbers of war veterans being buried each year, many from the World War II era.

We have been fortunate to have a president who has served us so well since the Association was organized. Robert Heino has worked tirelessly to see that all the burials have been done with dignity and caring. 

As we look to the future it has been our hope that younger members would become interested in taking over some of the duties performed by the older members. Many families are represented in the Association and the work will need to be taken care of by future generations. 

It is also hoped that the financial needs will be taken care of by remembrances and donations to keep up the work and maintenance that has been achieved so far. Various fund raisers have been held such as yard sales. bake sales and raffles. This is in addition to what interest accumulates on bank accounts.

The preamble of the Harrison Lutheran Cemetery Association states that it was formed for the better preservation and maintenance of the last resting places of all who are buried there. To inspire now and in future generations’ high sentiment of regard for this final resting place. It is thereby interested in preserving memories and perpetuating this cemetery’s history through the loving care shown by members of the Association. 

As we go into the future let us remember all those who have gone before us and let us not forget the memory of any who are buried here. 

A message from President Robert Heino 

We must remember the church members that started our new cemetery.

The first Chairman of the Cemetery was John S. Leino. These people were mostly farmers who worked with simple tools to survey and lay out the cemetery without the modern transits and computers of today. But these people did a great job of setting up the lots for burials mostly with strings. It was a time consuming job, then came the task of building and erecting the picket fence, approximately 200 feet of the front and 100 feet on each side.

At the entrance then used to be an arch built of wood. Our Pastor Edwin Kyllonen constructed the concrete pillars at the entrance to the cemetery. At first the area was smaller and was enlarged we believe in the 1940’s.

Hopefully we got all of the names of the workers correct; Joseph Kyllonen, Joseph Pulkkinen, Elmer Harju, Oscar Tikander, John Leino, Wester Martikainen, John Carlson, John Mattson, Charles Heino, John Poikonen, Charles Seilonen, Erik Wilson, William Jacobson and John Nurmi. It’s hard to imagine how these few men could do all of this volunteer work besides their every day chores. We all can be grateful and could we do it in today’ world?

We had a gravedigger that would open the graves in the direction that the sun comes up and he dug three graves side ways instead of length ways.

My father passed away 61 years ago this year and I remember working with him at the cemetery. He would be working and I would be sent to help, the Leino boys would be there doing their part. Then the land that was bought had to be cleared of brush and trees, Bruno and Laur Leino and Carl and Albert Heino did most of this.

In later years Eugene Leino was to plow the ground but it was so root bound that it had to be broken up with the rototiller. We tilled it 3 times to get it ready. We added two tons of lime and four 80 lb bags of fertilizer then 200 lb of lawn seed, rolling it to make a very nice area for expansion Stones and Er trees were placed on the Summit Hill side. In 1992 or ’93 we took down all of the picket fence on all sides digging out all the old post. Then came the drilling of all the fence posts in the rain.

In 1994 we put in the woven board fence on the offset part of the cemetery on a weekend, volunteers did all of the work After the cemetery had been in operation 35 years we sent letters to all lot holders proposing the start of perpetual care and the response was 90% in favor.

The cemetery was part of the church prior to starting the association in 1973. Because it was part of the church all funds from lot sales were put in the church treasury. Perpetual care, sales of lots, yard sales and various bake sales help to pay for the upkeep. We were sorry to learn of our Secretary/Treasurer Martha Leino resigning. We all owe her our gratitude for 40 years of service. Thank you, Martha. We are fortunate to have two young ladies take over: one as secretary and one as treasurer.

In conclusion as president of the Cemetery Association, I am asking fo your assistance. Help is very much needed to maintain OUR cemetery. In the past, my wife has helped me it so many ways, including preparing for meetings, cooking, baking, serving coffee and working at the fundraising events. Mabel has been there every step of the way and I couldn’t have done my job without her.

I believe involvement shouldn’t end with the purchase of a lot. With that purchase, you become part of a “family”. I hope you’ll pitch in to keep the area around your site neat and orderly and also participate in fund-raising activities (work bees, bake sales, etc). Let’s keep the Harrison Lutheran Cemetery a “family affair”.

I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Robert Heino

Editor's Note:

Robert Heino died 3 November 2012 and remains at the Harrison Lutheran Cemetery  that he loved so dearly in life.  [Find a Grave Memorial #100365425]

The Bridgton News published his obituary on 8 November 2012:  

He was born May 25, 1929, in Waterford, son of Finnish immigrants, Kalle and Liisa Heino. He was very proud of his Finnish heritage and worked hard to help out his family. Robert was known by many friends as “Bob.”

Robert married Mabel Qualey on Jan. 11, 1969. They lived in Waterford at his family farm, and then they moved to Maple Ridge in Harrison. He worked at Wilner Wood Heel, various logging jobs and at Dielectric in Raymond for 29 years.

He enjoyed hunting and fishing with his friends, and helping Mabel in their gardens. Robert was caretaker and president of the Harrison Lutheran Cemetery Association for many years and took great pride in caring for it.

* Image of Robert Heino and excerpt from obituary used by permission of The Bridgton News.

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