A volunteer effort sponsored by the Daughters of the American Revolution John de Crevecoeur Chapter will help restore a small historic graveyard in Concord this summer.
A total of 48 stones will be repaired and cleaned, in addition to other work to restore the Royalston Corner Cemetery.
After hearing a presentation from Debra Bell, the DAR chapter’s chair of the historic preservation committee, at its April 6 meeting the Concord select board unanimously approved the project, which will be funded by neighbors who live near the cemetery.
During the virtual meeting presentation, the board was told that a Revolutionary War veteran, Captain Lot Woodbury, is among those at rest in the graveyard, known as the Royalston Corner Cemetery.
A few days after the meeting last week, additional research into the graveyard by DAR member Nola Forbes found that there are also two additional Revolutionary War soldiers interred at Royalston Corner.
Amos Underwood and Edward Adams, both Revolutionary War soldiers, are also laid to rest there, said Forbes, “So that would make three Revolutionary War patriots that we know of at this point, for that particular cemetery.”
There are also two Civil War soldiers buried at Royalston Corner, Sgt. John W. Woodbury, Co. D, Vermont First Cavalry, killed in engagement at Nottaway Court House, Virginia, 1864, and Isaac P. Woodbury (no dates available), Co. D, Vermont First Cavalry, according to Judy Kurtz, a DAR member and one of the neighbors whose devotion to the historic cemetery is making the project possible.
Bell said getting a small group, less than a dozen, including local volunteers involved in the project planned for this summer will help for more townspeople to understand the history of Concord’s original settlers.
Skills for volunteers needed for the project can range from those able to contribute physical labor for the work to those able to observe and photograph the project.
“We’re enthusiastic about the project,” shared Bell, who delivered a slide show during the Zoom meeting which featured photos of some of the gravestones in disrepair.
Repairing headstones and cleaning gravestones will be among the jobs planned, she told the board.
The select board agreed to do some tree trimming around the cemetery for its part, or “skin in the game” as Chairman Bill Humphrey said, and he said the board was grateful for the contributions of the neighbors who will ante up just shy of $600 needed for the budget for the work.
The town will continue to maintain the cemetery, the draft minutes of the meeting reflect.
“I think it’s a wonderful project that you’re doing. I’m excited to see it happen,” said Humphrey.
Kurtz said she’s hoping to recruit some members of the Top of the World ATV Club, “some young guys with some muscle … get them excited. We’d love to invite all ages so we know each other and care about our community together,” she offered during the virtual meeting Tuesday evening.
Ultimately, once the project has been completed, a ceremony will be held to honor the soldiers laid to rest at the Royalston Corner Cemetery, and to celebrate the cemetery’s restoration, Bell told the board.
Concord School Principal Sherri Gregory was attending the meeting last week, and said she would love to somehow involved students in the project.
A Revolutionary War emblem will be placed at Capt. Woodbury’s grave after the cemetery project is completed, said Bell.
Judy and David Kurtz, who live in the restored Royalston Corner School building nearby the small cemetery, first came to the high point in the town of Concord with expansive views when they were newlyweds, looking to find a summer home with a view. David’s mother lived in Lyman, NH, and they had come to the North Country for their honeymoon in 1960.
They would go for drives all around when they were visiting, and they came upon the old school house building with a view and found a realtor; the property was not for sale, but the owner agreed to sell the house, barn, a chicken coop and 25 acres to the young couple in 1964 for the sum of $2,000. The school house was built in 1873 and has since undergone major restoration as well as expansion into the couple’s year-round residence.
David is a retired professor; the couple and their son would come to the home summers each year, and 12 years ago retired to the school house.
Judy Kurtz, from Indianapolis originally, has been researching the town’s history for many years and is one of the neighbors along with her husband and nearby homeowners Jon and Sherri Fitch, who are devoted to helping the DAR chapter restore the cemetery.
On Saturday, Kurtz said the section of Concord had been originally settled by people who came from Royalston, Mass., who first had come to Bethlehem, NH, but then moved their settlement to Concord. The school house and cemetery are all that remain of the settlement other than some cellar holes where there used to be homes.
According to Kurtz, who is also a DAR member, “The project should begin in June with a visit from either the Fairbanks Museum staff and/or the State of Vermont to check out the botanical growth in the cemetery to make sure we are not disturbing anything of import.”
“The second activities would probably be sometime in July with the resetting of three larger gravestones. In addition in July, we hope to be mending the five broken grave stones with special epoxy by a small work party,” Kurtz explained.
She continued, “On Aug. 7th, we hope to have a large work party of from 10 to 12 people including a team of DAR workers and also townspeople resetting the tipped stones and cleaning the grave stones in the whole cemetery. We have one Revolutionary War soldier buried there in addition to two Civil War soldiers.” A rain date of Sept. 11 has been set for the big project date, said Kurtz.
“It is possible we might be able to do a special award from the DAR for the Revolutionary War soldier site as well as a time to honor the renovation of the Royalston Corner Cemetery with a celebration,” explained Kurtz.
A second neighbor to the Royalston Corner Cemetery project who is involved in the restoration effort is Jon Fitch, who likewise took part in this week’s Select Board meeting to share his support for the cemetery r restoration plans. He is an immediate neighbor to the cemetery and a skilled craftsman, said Kurtz, and will be a future participant in the renovation project.
DAR Restoration Projects
In the presentation to the Concord Select Board, Bell explained to the board that the DAR chapter covers the three counties of the Northeast Kingdom, and its mission is “to promote historic preservation, education, and patriotism among the communities we represent.” The chapter is a member of the Vermont Old Cemetery Association.
The DAR chapter recently helped to restore the Ayer-Hawkins Cemetery in St. Johnsbury, Bell told the board, sharing photos from that project which included stone straightening and cleaning.
Bell’s presentation noted, “DAR trained leadership will assist Concord citizens of the neighborhood and community participating,” and stating that the group hopes the town employee who maintains the cemetery can join the work project to “learn additional and new restoration methods which can be used for future cemetery restoration projects within the community.”
“The history of Royalston Corner will be researched by the current residents of Royalston Corner and at a later date, the DAR proposes to honor Lot Woodbury, a Revolutionary War soldier buried at the cemetery, and the first settlers of historic Royalston Corner,” the presentation noted; now, with the discovery of the two additional Revolutionary War soldiers, Amos Underwood and Edward Adams, the honors will be expanded to honor all three of the soldiers laid to rest at Royalston Corner.