EASTON, Conn. Most members of the Pattison family died in Easton before 1860 and are buried in Easton's Center Street Cemetery. Betsey Pattison's newborn child died three days after she did, but there is no headstone for the baby. "You have to wonder if the baby is here, too," said Drew King, a surveyor who recently completed a Mylar scheme of the cemetery.
It's questions like this that have led the Easton Cemetery Committee to research who is buried in the town's cemetery and determine where the grave is located. Families still own plots on the property for future burials.
"In order to bury people, we have to be sure nobody is there already," said Derek Buckley, the town's sexton for abandoned cemeteries. "Just because there is a headstone there doesn't mean there is a burial there. And just because there is no headstone doesn't mean there is no burial there."
King's Mylar scheme of Center Street Cemetery notes where burials are located, where there are deeds and where there are burials and vaults but no headstones.
The town was ready to sell the section of the cemetery called Pauper's Grave when Buckley said he was "surprised to find it was full."
King researched different lists dating to 1890 of burials there. He's working to comprise the multiple lists into one by comparing sources. He checked birth, marriage and death records to discover as many maiden names as possible. The Mylar scheme is a work in progress, and King hopes to identify more burials.
The "Sexton's Return," written between 1885 and 1955, finds 220 names that cannot be reconciled, said King. He weeded out all names that had a stone, which left 99 people who King cannot locate. Deeds to half of the lots in the cemetery have been found.
"I don't think anybody should be forgotten," said King, who said he hopes to raise the consciousness of the town to understand the value of these areas.
Winthrop Perry and Orrando Dexter found 20 more additions to the stones at Center Street Cemetery, King found in a document dated 1894. King surmised that the two copied from another record and went around the cemetery to check to make sure that record was accurate. If the records were copied, King guessed the original record could date to 1826.
King obtained copies of Perry and Dexter's notes, which show a list of the burials. At Center Street, it lists John Winfield, 1867, whose headstone is still standing at the cemetery. After him, John H. Adams and Sarah A. are listed in the record, but there are no dates. Next to John Winfield's headstone, there are two stones sticking out of the ground.
"How did he know who the stones were for if he didn't have a previous list telling him?" asked King.
The cemetery committee has been working to restore broken headstones and plant them in solid bases to keep more from breaking and to maintain the historical significance of the cemetery.
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