Vol. II No. 03 2/1/2021
About Stockbridge Cemetery Commission
by Karen Marshall
The Cemetery Commission, led by new commission chair Karen Marshall, toured the cemetery on November 20, 2020. We reviewed maintenance, headstone damage and repair, and discussed green burials.
In attendance were Select Board members Patrick White and Roxanne McCaffrey, Town Clerk Terri Iemolini, Lionel Delevingne of Laurel Hill Association, and town resident member Candace Currie. Also: town manager Mike Canales, historical commission member Peter Williams, and Hugh Page from the highway department. The highway department performs all routine maintenance.
We started our discussions in the oldest part of the cemetery, at the corner of Main and Church streets. Over the course of 90 minutes, we time-travelled 270 years.
We reviewed the oldest marble headstones, some of which are in need of cleaning and repair. We need professionals to advise us on this. We also discussed reducing lawn mowing and string trimming to limit damaging the oldest headstones. We talked using low ground covers — like Thyme — in place of grass in the old section. We looked over the hedges on the border learned crumbling the fence posts on the border are being replaced this spring.
We then moved to the stone vault, built in 1850. Originally, it was constructed to hold those who died when the ground was too frozen to dig a grave. Today backhoes are used throughout the year.
We found that the stone was in relatively good shape, but the wooden parts are down to bare wood, and need repair.
Moving onto the newest section of the cemetery, we talked about the need to map out the remaining space to determine how much room we have for future burials. And we talked about green burials.
A green burial is one in which everything (body, clothing, and casket) going into the ground is biodegradable. All burials were green until the mid-1800s. However, because of a cemetery bylaw requiring vaults, green burial is not currently allowed in the Stockbridge Cemetery. Stay tuned for more information about green burial in the next Stockbridge Update.
For a list of all the Commission members, and Stockbridge's Article V Cemetery Regulations are online at the Town of Stockbridge/public works.
Grave of Mary Hopkins Goodrich, founder of Laurel Hill Association. Photo: Patrick White