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Home: Surnames: Flandreau Family Genealogy Forum

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Re: Flandreau cemetery
Posted by: Peter Gunn Date: December 09, 2001 at 20:49:25
In Reply to: Re: Flandreau cemetery by Peter Gunn of 136

Here's my note in response to Chris...


Thanks very much for your Woodlawn records, and for paying a visit to the Flandreau Cemetery. I've been there several times now, but over the summer I moved to Oregon, and I haven't been able to follow up on my previous visits the way I'd intended.

I've seen all the stones and fragments you transcribed, plus a handful more you missed on your visit. I leaned one stone up against a tree, but it had been there before, and is pictured there in the New York Times article from 1981.

In "brief", here's my take on the cemetery: the cemetery belongs to the Flandreau family, defined loosely as the heirs of those interred there and their descendants. For a while I'd decided that this restricted it somewhat to the descendants of Jacques' son Benjamin, whose farm the cemetery was built on and who was the first person buried there.

However, in working my why through the three existing transcriptions of the stones that were there in the twenties and thirties, I've decided that the descendants can in fact be interpreted as Jacques' descendants, as some of those buried there are almost certainly the descendants of some other child than Benjamin.

At any rate, the neighbors who have encroached on the property seem to have cleaned up their act somewhat from the 1980's when a swing set was on the graveyard proper. Currently, their only real violation of the property (aside from the decaying debris of previous construction projects) is that they have built a garage on the access corridor to the Boston Post Road. However, that access corridor is fairly irrelevant, since there is now a road on the other side of the property, that is, Chester Place. At some point, someone might consider demanding a payment for the seized property from the neighbors, perhaps as a means of funding cleanup work -- however, that's a fairly litigious and confrontational approach to the issue.

The bodies exhumed for the building of Chester Place seem to have gone to Beechwoods Cemetery across town, where other Flandreaus are also buried (including Elijah's brothers James and Peter). I don't actually have proof that bodies were moved, though certainly the monument to Elisha Harsen that stood on the corner cut off by the road was moved there.

I've toyed around with various ideas for caring for the cemetery on the online forum, in the mailing list, and in conversations with neighbors. Basically, the responsibility for cleaning up the cemetery is that of descendants. Opinions differ on what is the best thing to be done. Most people would like to see the brush cleared, some of the younger trees pulled, and the remaining stones cared for in some way. The city is prohibited from taking possession of the cemetery unless they arrange for the interment of the bodies therein with the descendants of those persons. Since they don't actually know who those descendants are, it would simply cost too much to do the research and then arrange for the reburial of the remains.

When I last visited, the neighbors were excited because there'd been some talk by a city council person of organizing a clean-up day for the cemetery. I intended to get in touch with this council person, but never got contact information. Worse, I no longer have the phone number of Brian Dougherty, the neighbor directly across the street from the cemetery. He had my number in Ithaca, but didn't leave his in his messages trying to reach me.

I think, with a tremendous amount of effort, the cemetery could be restored to a simple wooded park with perhaps a bench to sit on and a small fence to separate it from the road, and perhaps a larger one to separate it from the neighbors.

I think in a serious clearing of the property more stones would re-emerge -- I saw fragments of ten when I was there, and I estimate there were about 30 to 40 at one time. I'm not sure what can best be done to protect them, though. The oldest stones at Beechwood, completely exposed to the elements, are much more difficult to read than the stones in the Flandreau cemetery -- different materials factor in as well.

I'd approached the Boy Scouts about it as a clean-up project but I after I told them how serious a clean-up was (they'd been concerned it might not be a serious _enough_ project to earn a badge) I never heard another word.

At one point I wondered whether it wouldn't make sense to try and turn the site over to archeologists! Surely there must be a class of some in the city who could use the site as a practice site -- they would locate buried stones, be able to identify individual gravesites, and might even be able to identify the individuals with the help of what little I have in the way of records.

My wife Lee-Anne is fairly appalled by the notion and sees the idea as something of a desecration. I feel, on the other hand, that it would show the honored dead considerably more respect than ignoring them and letting their resting place be treated as a trash dump.

In any event, I'll send in a separate note my list of those buried in the cemetery and their relationships to each other where known. Also I'll incorporate your transcriptions into the database and update it. I hope it's okay if I post our discussion of the cemetery to the Forum and the mailing list.

Thanks again for your help! Hope all's well with you and yours.


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