NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

May 8, 2013

Volunteers restore Salisbury's oldest gravestones

Volunteers restore town's oldest gravestones

SALISBURY — The gravestones at the Salisbury Colonial Burial Ground mark the resting places of some of the town’s earliest residents, and this summer the Salisbury Historical Commission will be working to make sure their names are never forgotten.

Over the next few months, chairman Paul Colby Turner and other commission members will be going through the cemetery to rehabilitate the old gravestones, some of which have been worn down over the years, making it difficult to read the inscriptions.

“We started cleaning it up last summer, and last year we repaired about 40 gravestones, resetting them or repairing them,” Turner said. “I have about 20 stones left to do, and that’s what I’m going to be doing the rest of the summer.”

Located at the corner of Beach and Ferry roads, the Salisbury Colonial Burial Ground, dated 1639, is the oldest cemetery in town and is the resting place of many of Salisbury’s earliest leaders, including Major Robert Pike, who was one of the town’s first residents and first ministers.

Turner began working last summer to clean and repair the gravestones, some of which date back to the early 18th century. He said his goal is to fix up the remaining ones by July, when Pike’s living descendents are planning to visit Salisbury.

“I think something like 30 or 40 members of the family will be visiting in July, and I wanted to make sure it was cleaned up for them,” he said.

Turner recently attended a seminar in Haverhill where he learned proper preservation techniques, and he has also obtained special instruments used by historians for gravestone repairs. One surprisingly common tool he said can be used in preservation is Dawn, a kitchen soap, which he said is effective in cleaning the stones and getting the grime off them.

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