Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Restoration of Plainfield Cemetery, Hastings County, Ontario

It all started with Canadian Headstones! After completing three cemeteries in Hastings County, Margaret Asselstine was bitten by the history bug and needed to know more about one cemetery in particular – Plainfield – just off of Highway #37.
Having family in this burial site, it seemed to her that something was missing. Old records from 1970 obtained at Corby Library in Belleville listed about forty more stones than could be found when she attempted to photograph and inscribe the grave markers of all those interred there.
Not one to take a challenge lightly, Margaret felt the situation needed to be corrected, and set out to find exactly what and where things had gone wrong.
After having a “Quilt & Cuties” craft sale in May to help raise over $1000, it was time to go to work! A very wonderful person, Kevin Craig of Craig’s Mobile Wash helped clean the dirt and grime that had accumulated on many of the older stones. Acid rain is very harmful to headstones, and some markers had deteriorated to the point of being unreadable. Others had toppled over and lay on the ground for years, with some becoming completely buried under the earth. Only by digging in the approximate area were they able to locate portions of the headstones. Some were jigsaw puzzles to to restore. Other stones were found in piles of five to six deep, hidden in the bushes, having been moved from their original site when they broke away from their bases. Mad as a wet hen that someone would even move the markers just strengthened Marg's resolve to restore as many as possible!
With the help of her sister, Betty La Rue, and her daughters along with anyone else she could call upon, things were finally starting to come together, after spending nearly every day for a month at the cemetery. They laid patio stones on beds of crushed gravel, and glued the badly broken markers to the patio stones. Any broken headstones that were the least bit salvageable were reset upright, trying to keep as much of the inscription visible as possible.
Working with this wonderful group of people, she cut out brush, sawed down trees, and placed as many markers in the proper places as they could find. They worked in the rain, in the heat of the day, and in the evening - complete with bug bites! After almost two months of solid work, Margaret managed to locate all but five headstones listed in the 1970 works. At the end of the day, there are still two stones which cannot be identified and can only read a portion of dates.
All in all, a superb job well done – with the help of some wonderful businesses who gave them excellent prices, and a group of volunteers who worked long and hard with a great attitude to help restore a badly broken cemetery with very little funds.
In 2014, plans are afoot for adding a few flowers for colour, shrubs for shade, and some landscaping, then they feel their work will hopefully be done, but not forgotten!
CONGRATULATIONS to Margaret Asselstine, Kevin Craig, Betty LaRue and all of their helpers!
It is amazing the difference ONE PERSON can make!!

2 comments:

SR Leitch said...

Margaret deserves a medal!!
I wonder if she has any clones.

Anonymous said...

Interesting blog and useful too. Hey... I found a site with a video about how to install the ge smart water filter. It good for clear refreshing water and ice to help you prolong your eventual stay at the cemetery... anyway glad to know people here in case I need to do some family research of where my ancestors are at.

GE Smart Water MWF Filter