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Cemeteries seeking grant money for upkeep

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Wanted: a descendant of Isaac Tripp.

Or here’s another: Chester Harris.

The odds of finding anybody are probably fairly slim, especially regarding Mr. Harris, since he went to his eternal reward in 1895; Mr. Tripp passed away in 1910.

But the search by the Champion Hillside Cemetery Association continues, as well as by other burial ground units, including the Woodland Cemetery association at Fine in St. Lawrence County. Both groups placed ads in the Times recently, seeking owners of family burial plots to assume responsibility for the repair of monuments deemed to be in dangerously poor condition.

There have been incidents, as nearby as in Oswego County, in which time and weather-worn cemetery monuments have collapsed, injuring and even killing people, said Helen Morisette, Cape Vincent, secretary-treasurer for the Champion association. Two such tragedies killed children earlier this year. In June, a 4-year-old girl was standing on a headstone in a North Carolina cemetery when a 1,200-pound cross fell on her, and in Utah a month later, a 4-year-old boy was playfully poking his head from behind a tombstone, posing for a picture, when a support bar broke loose. The 6-foot-tall monument collapsed onto the child.

When there are memorial stones dating as far back as 1817 (Leramell Cumings), private cemeteries don’t have the funds to make all the needed repairs, Mrs. Morisette said.

“Maybe this is why so many cemeteries in our area are falling back into town care — if you don’t let people know all the rules the not-for-profit cemeteries have to abide by from the state division of cemeteries, including approval of our cemeteries’ burial and monument foundation charges as well as the price of lots,” Mrs. Morisette said. “These are one-time charges that are expected to care for that burial plot forever.”

Those funds fall short, particularly in smaller cemeteries, she said.

The legal ads — Champion listed 39 plots, and Woodland had 44 — are necessary to show the state Department of State’s Division of Cemeteries that efforts have been exhausted in tracking down family. The state agency requires that the ads “shall be addressed to the last known owner and to all persons having or claiming any interest in or to the burial lot,” must run once a week for three consecutive weeks.

That accomplished, with no returns, the associations can apply to the Division of Cemeteries for cash grants to make repairs.

Edison Alban, state department spokesman, said the grant comes from a vandalism fund, which does not tap tax dollars, but has grown from a $5 fee charged for every burial and cremation conducted in the state.

“Grants are based on an application consisting of at least two estimates of repair, photos of damage, copy of public notice and investigator’s report,” he said. The grant program began in 1989, and “No legitimate claim has gone unpaid,” Mr. Alban said.

The lists for Champion and Fine follow:

Champion Hillside — Hiram Crook; Clement Hubbard; Joel Wilmont; Deborah Colburn; Nelson Brooks; Sylvester Loomis; Joseph Herrick; Bates family; David Miller family; Joseph and Ellen Gonya; Helen Hubbard; Parker and Phillips families; John and Hanna VanBrocklin; E.C. Crook; Caroline Crook; Sage family; Couglan family; John Wood; Chester Harris; Earl Wheaton; Graves and Wicks families; John Merrian; and Joe Hubbard.

Also, Reuben Wilmont; Lucy Lebbeus; Louis Brooks; Horace Loomis; Warren Loomis; William, Clinton and Eunice Loomis; Jeremiah Cummings; Lathrop family; Issac Tripp; Bellinger family; Guilford and Harris families; Campbell family; John Campbell; R.H. Coughlan; and Strickland family.

Woodland Cemetery, Fine — A. Muir; Delbert Johnson; George Evans; Charles W. Kerr; James Crayton; Irven Hamilton; George Davenport; Lucious H. Guinup; Isaac French; Hezekiah Carr; Henry Carr; William Marsh; Albert Baxter; Dewey H. Bowman; Issac Leonard; Earl Sykes; Frank Backus; Richard Dunham; Emma Monterville; Elmer Town; Harvey Russ; Rose Ferrier; Cecil Hubbard; and William Hazelton.

Also, Newell Burns; John Clintsman; Chauncy Guiles; Henry O. Daniels; Barry (unknown); Albert Marsh; D.D. Scott; Milton Rice; Mildred Ward; Dutchan Ward; Eliza Ward; William Jones; Henry Comins; Thomas W. Fell; Maybel (unknown); Everett Danford; George P. Scott; Silas Cook; Red Kennedy; and Philo and Cordilla Frank.

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