Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Cemetery in Crisis! The Weed Cemetery of New Canaan

A Cemetery in Crisis ~ How to save the Weed Cemetery
of New Canaan, Connecticut


Weed Cemetery in January 2014
Photo compliments of Pamela S.


Weed Cemetery in January 2014
Photo compliments of Pamela S.
There is some irony in the name- Weed Cemetery -- and a sad tragedy that this ancient burial ground, which has headstones dating back to the 1700s, has been so neglected!



As a descendant of Abraham & Naomi (Pond) Weed, I'm saddened that their final resting place is so poorly maintained -- a few years ago, Abraham had a surviving, albeit damaged, headstone.
I'm not sure if Naomi's has been lost to time or if it is just lost amongst the actual weeds & brambles.


Grave of Abraham Weed
Photograph by Gary Boughton, used with permission
 
There are many other, very early burials in the Weed Cemetery... you can see a list of burials at these two links--  Fairfield County Cemeteries  &  Weed Cemetery 411-4...  So it appears that the cemeteries was at one point cleared enough to be walked & transcribed. I have emailed the people listed from these sites, to see what I might find out...  You would think such an old cemetery, in this historic area would have some group that overseas its maintenance?!

Findagrave has memorials for 139 burials in the Weed Cemetery... looking at some photos posted in 2006, it appears that the cemetery was maintained at some point?? However, only 33% off the 133 burials are photographed, according to F.A.G.

New Canaan, Connecticut is a very affluent city, in fact it is listed as the 5th wealthiest city in the Nation! The have a Historical Society, whose link I will include here, in case you like to check it out-- New Canaan Historical Society, they have a number of historic sites, but I don't really find anything related to genealogy or cemeteries... though I did email them as well to see who might be responsible for the maintenance of the cemetery.

I have heard about local organizations taking on the preservation of old abandoned cemeteries--- like the Boy Scouts or Lions Club... and I suppose once I find out who is ultimately responsible for the Weed Cemetery, I might see about find a group to "adopt it".

It seems that an unmaintained cemetery such as this, is just an invitation to vandals... not to mention Mother Nature wreaking havoc! Even if this wasn't a final resting places for early ancestors, I'd still wish for it to be preserved!

Are you familiar with New Canaan? Do you have roots there?
Perhaps the Weed family is in your ancestry [Hi Cousin!] or other burials connect to you?
Have you had any experience preserving an old cemetery?

*******************************
After I wrote this, I did receive 2 responses in my quest for information... there were as followed

Nicholas,
I don’t know who might be responsible for this or any other old cemetery in New Canaan. I know that, at least in Stamford, no one seems to even know who owns the land on which some of the small, no longer used cemeteries are located. That may be the case in New Canaan too. The Scouts have organized cleanups of some Stamford cemeteries in the past. Some small cemeteries are located on private property and the owners sometimes maintain them. Others don’t. Some of the cemeteries in the 1934 Hale survey have completely disappeared or have become so overgrown that they can't be located. I agree. It is a tragedy. However, some of the small defunct cemeteries contain only old stones and the remains of the deceased have been moved to cemeteries that are still active.
Barbara

and

The Weed cemetery was originally a private cemetery and the original restriction was that only Abraham Weed's descendants should be buried there. Amanda Weed's Will provided money for its care back in 1974, but no ownership of the cemetery was noted. Connecticut General Statuates [sic] state that only a Church, a Cemetery Association or  a City or Town may own or operate a cemetery.  It would seem that care of the cemetary, [sic]  ownership unknown, would now be under the care of the Town.

Janet Lindstrom
Executive Director
[New Canaan Historical Society]

4 comments:

  1. Hi Nicholas,

    What a shame this is! It's wonderful that you inquired about this cemetery. Hopefully the Town will begin caring for this cemetery correctly. I've shared your post on Twitter and Google+. =)

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  3. Andrew HoneywellJune 13, 2016 at 9:27 AM

    Nicholas,

    Janets letter needs to be addressed, especially the concluding paragraph of her letter as it is not entirely true. As per CT Gen Stat § 19a-315b (2013) such a cemetery as the Weed Cemetery reverts to the Probate Court of that town when no living descendants are identified or respond to a request to be notified of such a type of cemetery.

    There are many living descendants of the Weeds buried here, ergo they have primary ownership over any other entity, unless they all forfeit their claim to the burial ground and its maintenance.

    Based on the condition of the cemetery, is there any project in mind to help clean it up? Thank you.

    Its difficult to understand how little understanding there is with many of the Fairfield County Historical Societies regarding cemetery issues. One would think they would actually do the research and be very knowledgeable on the issue, after all, its certainly in their purview as a Historical Society.

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