Baptist cemetery to be restored

Eric McCarthy
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SPRINGFIELD WEST -- As cemeteries go, the Springfield West Baptist cemetery is smoother than most. That’s largely due to a leveling and re-seeding job last year following a cinch bug infestation.

The grass might be relatively level, but many of the headstones are not. Many are leaning over, broken, cracked or covered with moss.

Wavell Sabine, chairman of the Springfield West Cemetery Renovation Committee points to a light-coloured stone near the center of the graveyard. It marks the place where a young boy was buried in 1874. Names of other family members who died later are also etched on what is believed to be the first stone place in the cemetery. There are around 330 headstones in the rural cemetery. Sabine estimates there would be at least twice that number of people buried there, as many of the stones bear the names of at least two, and sometimes five or six, family members.

The 10-member restoration committee was formed last year following the repairs to the cemetery’s sod. Since then committee members have been busy writing to descendants of people buried in Springfield West explaining that a major renovation and repair project is about to be carried out in the cemetery and inviting donations to assist with the work. Contributions continue to flow in, said Sabine.

The initial estimate for the project was $40,000 but that has been increased a bit following an examination of the cemetery this spring. Sabine is hopeful donations will cover the work and said the committee would apply any additional funds towards other repairs, including the cemetery’s vault.

Some preliminary work, including removal of trees that were overgrowing the cemetery, was carried out this spring.

“Even if your plans are good, some day you’re not going to be here (to look after the plot),” Sabine noted of some of the items that were put there over the years that, through time, made regular maintenance difficult.

Although the goal still hasn’t been achieved, the project is set to commence on Monday, June 16. Barry Neilson Monument Services from New Brunswick has been contracted to do the work.

In celebration of the commencement of the project, a special memoriam Service will be held at the O’Leary Baptist Church this Sunday, June 15, at 11 a.m. Rev. Dewis Rector will be the guest speaker and there will be special music. There’s a lunch for all following the service and then at 1:30 everyone is invited to the Springfield West cemetery for an information session about the project.

As the committee has not been able to locate descendants for some of the stones, anyone with information about the cemetery or people buried there is invited to bring that along for the session.

Although the bulk of the restoration work is expected to be carried out over the next three weeks, the committee has set Fathers Day 2015 as the actual date for a special celebration marking the completion of the project. Ellis noted historical information is still being compiled as finishing touches for the project. 

Organizations: Springfield West Cemetery Renovation Committee, Barry Neilson Monument Services, O’Leary Baptist Church

Geographic location: Springfield West, New Brunswick

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