WILTON — Fifth-graders from Academy Hill School in Wilton and Cascade Brook School in Farmington cleaned stones in the Academy Corner Cemetery on Wednesday.
But, it was more than just a lesson in cleaning.
The project, called Stones with Stories, challenged their language arts, math and history skills. Their work will culminate in a map of the cemetery that plan to give to the town, teacher Sarah Reynolds said.
The project resulted from the Maine Old Cemetery Association workshop at the Weld Road cemetery last summer, Deb Probert, association member, said.
Town Manager Rhonda Irish thought it would be good to involve schoolchildren in cleaning the stones.
Students previously visited the cemetery on the opposite corner of Main and Depot streets.
After cleaning each stone, they compiled information, including names, dates and inscriptions. Jonathon Flaherty, a student at Cascade Brook School, discovered a potential error on a stone. Prior to cleaning, the name appeared to be John Hay but the clean stone indicated the name was John Day who died in the 1800s.
Probert assured him the name would be researched.
The students' history, literacy and writing skills were stretched as they researched the person or family whose names were on the stones and wrote about them and the period in which they lived, Reynolds said.
Lucinda Carroll, a student at Academy Hill, relished the research task and is creating a snapshot of the Morse family, Reynolds said.
Four members of the family died within four months from typhoid fever, the result of contaminated water, Carroll said.
Maxine Brown of the Wilton Historical Society said there was an outbreak of typhoid fever in 1816 followed by another in 1830.
The cemetery dates back to 1816, maybe 1810, she said. The are 38 stones that are visible and some may be buried. The cemetery sign says Academy Hill Cemetery but it is actually Academy Corner Cemetery, she said.
The school across the street was originally the Academy Freewill Baptist Church which was built in the mid-1800s. Many buried within the cemetery were likely members, she said.
The large, open barn-type building later became Wilton Academy, which burned in 1980, she said. A photo of the original church is on display at the society's museum.
There are three veterans buried in the cemetery, she said. Two are veterans from the War of 1812 and one is from the Revolutionary War.
The Maine Old Cemetery Association wants to "foster interest in the discovery, restoration and maintenance of Maine cemeteries and to preserve records and historical information which relates to them," according to its website.
Reprinted by permission of author, Ann Bryant Sun Journal
Franklin | Saturday, May 20, 2017
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