Cemeteries are called historical cemeteries due to their age. If someone significant in history were to be buried at one of our cemeteries, then it would be called a historic cemetery. The Town of Swansea has well over 200 historical cemeteries located throughout the town of Swansea. They can be found in wooded areas, in backyards or even at intersections. Farmers would locate the family cemetery on the outskirts of their property. Others would locate the graves in their front yard. There are single graves located in wooded areas throughout Swansea. Those are also considered a historical cemetery.
The Town of Swansea has 49 documented historical cemeteries. A documented historical cemetery means that someone took the time to fill out a Massachusetts Historical Commission burial ground form called Form E. These forms include the religious affiliation, the owner, the location and the condition of the cemetery at the time of the survey. They also give a history of the cemetery and how many graves were visible at the time of the survey. They give the earliest burial date which gives us an approximation of the age of the cemetery. A map is drawn up and each of the visible graves are documented on the map. They take pictures and they list the names of the people buried in that particular cemetery. Included on the forms is the first and last name, their date of death, the design of the headstone and the condition of the headstone and cemetery.
The Swansea Historical Commission has been given permission to clean historical cemeteries in the Town of Swansea. They have put together a clean up schedule and have volunteers to assist in the clean up process. If anyone wishes to assist in the clean up please contact Cheryl Bogle, Chairman for the Swansea Historical Commission, @ 508-496-9564 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
People use chemicals to clean headstones. The Swansea Historical Commission has been in contact with 3 monument companies in regards to the cleaning process for headstones. Each company said that when you are using chemicals to clean headstones you need to have a large amount of water to thoroughly rinse the headstone. Monument companies will hook up hoses to faucets in cemeteries if faucets are not available water trucks are sometimes brought in. A few gallons of water will not do the job. The Swansea Historical Commission will clean a headstone first without anything; just proper tools. If the debris is too hard to remove we then introduce water. No chemicals are ever used
The Swansea Historical Society has no authority to clean or do any work in any of the historical cemeteries in the Town of Swansea. Headstones are never to be removed from a historical cemetery or repaired within the grounds without the written consent of a direct descendant. The headstones should be left the way they were found. Never relocate or dig up a headstone. Heavy machinery should never be used within the grounds of a historical cemetery.
Cemeteries are protected by the state laws that prohibit defacement, vandalism, removal of grave markers or damage to graves. Anyone who willfully destroys, mutilates, defaces gravestones, etc. can be imprisoned up to 5 years or a fine of no more than $5000.
An example of why we try to clean cemeteries. Mother Nature has swallowed up this gravestone via the tree. And don't forget that some soul is resting under that tree!
("Tree Around Gravestone" from www.thecemeterydetective.com)
In 2020, The Swansea Historical Commission concentrated their efforts on cleaning and exploring the grounds of the Kingsley Historical cemetery next to Valvoline on Milford Road. At the time of our last report, the Commission had uncovered 18 headstones where only 11 were originally thought to exist.
The Commission believed they had uncovered all the headstones, but members came across even more, leading them to believe there may be more corresponding graves. The team worked for another four months and had to dig down up to 3 to 4 feet to uncover a total of nearly 60 grave markers/footstones, but no graves themselves. Commission members so far have a total of 8 months at the Kingsley Cemetery and are not done. PLEASE NOTE: The cemetery is not open to the public do to trip hazards.
The Commission then turned their attention to the Smallpox Cemetery on Milford road. On October 10th, 2020, the team cleaned the cemetery and were able to uncover another 57 potential grave markers. Due to inclement weather, the team was unable to make any further determinations. In early spring, the Commission will continue to clean up and uncover headstones at this site.
Next, we will be concentrating our efforts at the Mason Family Cemetery located at the First Congregational Church lot diagonally across Route 6 from the church. We will then finish the Kingsley Cemetery, finish working at the Smallpox Cemetery and begin efforts of cleanup at the Luther Family Cemetery on Milford Road. Following those efforts, we will begin work at the the Seth Brown Cemetery on Pierce Road, the Captain Eddie Cemetery on East Street and continue maintenance on cemeteries that have already been cleaned.
If you are interested in helping The Swansea Historical Commission uncover the past, please call Cheryl Bogle at 508-496-9564 or send an email to email@example.com.