Fall 2020 Cemetery Update

I hope that you have had the opportunity to walk past the Old Village Cemetery over the Summer and have observed the wondrous transformation that Joe Flanagan and his crew have wrought in this ancient and historic place that features so prominently in Dedham history.

The bier path has a splendid new gravel surface (that still needs a few tweaks) extending from the beautifully restored main gate, the handiwork of Bob Gillette and Stephen Black of the Dedham DPW, past the replicated ironwork of the Richard’s plot, to the no. 10 crypt, containing the remains of Elihu Onion, one of 104 Revolutionary War Veterans buried or cenotaphed in the OVC. David Ray and Kevin Duffy continue to scrub away the dirt and grime of centuries from stones marking the remains of ancient Dedham families. Additionally, they have been able to recover lost stones from deep underground and return them to their original bases.

If you have visited St. Paul’s enticing new kid-centric playground, you will see that the children have safe passage via a path bordered by appropriate new trees and plantings, a cooperative effort by the Church, the DPW, and the DVPA, Inc.

Sadly, the second Halloween Gala Fundraiser, scheduled for this October, has been cancelled because we want to keep our revelers safe, and, it did not seem appropriate at a time when everyone is struggling. Last year’s gala was a fun evening and we look forward to putting another good scare into Dedham next Halloween. In the meantime, we are working on a matching grant fund raiser, made possible by generous benefactors, that we hope will appeal to end of the year donors.

This year has seen the Halvorsan Design Partnership Plan of 2018 for the OVC begin to come to life on schedule despite a very difficult year for everyone. We are grateful to the many workers and volunteers who have made this possible, and to our loyal supporters, and, as the season ends, we are already excited about plans for 2021.

Old Village Cemetery, Fall 2020

Matching Gifts for the Old Village Cemetery

Marie Louise Kehoe, Chairman of the Dedham Old Village Cemetery Restoration Committee, is pleased to announce that the Dedham Village Preservation Association, Inc. is offering a $5,000 matching gift program through the end of 2020 for the benefit of the Restoration Fund. The offer has been made possible by generous supporters who wish to give end of the year donors an opportunity to double their gifts.

The landmark Old Village Cemetery, established in 1637 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is one of the most significant Colonial Cemeteries in America, and among Dedham’s most visited historic sites.

Mrs. Kehoe and her Committee have pledged to raise $1 million over 4 years to address serious deterioration of the Cemetery. Restoration and preservation of the site has been ongoing since 2017 by the Dedham DPW, guided by a Design Plan developed by the Halvorsan Design Partnership, with major improvements completed or in progress.

To donate, please fill out the form on our donation page, or mail to Dedham Village Preservation Association, Inc., POB 1037, Dedham, MA 02027

African American Regiments Honored

For Memorial Day, the Dedham Historical Society and Museum honored the men and women who sacrificed their lives while serving their country with a Facebook post of the monument in the Old Village Cemetery erected for soldiers who died in training at Fort Meigs in Readville/Hyde Park, once part of Dedham.

Fort Meigs was a training camp from 1861-1865. The 64 names on the monument represent 24 units of infantry, artillery, and cavalry, including three African-American units: the 54th, commanded by Robert Gould Shaw, the first black regiment recruited in the North (see the movie “Glory”), the 55th, and the 5th Cavalry. The Civil War claimed more American lives than any conflict in U.S. history, and Memorial Day, originally Decoration Day for the decoration of graves with flowers, began being celebrated in the the late 1860’s. It became an official federal holiday in 1971.

For more information on Memorial Day, visit this link on History.com.  For more information on the African American regiments at Fort Meigs, visit this link on Archive.com.

New Trees and Walkway for St. Paul’s

In cooperation with the Town of Dedham DPW, and its Director, Joe Flanagan, the DVPA, Inc. has planted four Sugar Maple saplings adjacent to St. Paul’s new children’s play area and cleared a path to give the children safe access. Reverend Melanie McCarley, Rector of St. Paul’s, writes: “St. Paul’s Episcopal Church is grateful for the assistance of The Dedham Village Preservation Association in planning and constructing a walkway for the safety of our children to move from the church building to their new playground.  Prior to the installation of the walkway children would make their way behind cars through the parking lot; a hazardous undertaking to a place of play.  The Dedham Village Preservation Association and the Dedham DPW made this pathway possible by removing overgrown areas as well as a fence, gifting a small portion of land and constructing the walkway.  We are deeply appreciative of their efforts.”

The Wreck of the Maritana

The Monday, November 20, 2019 edition of the Boston Globe featured an article by columnist Steve Annear about the wreck of the full-rigged cargo ship, Maritana, on Egg Rock in Boston Harbor on a stormy night in the winter of 1861, claiming the lives of 13 passengers and 11 crew, including its Captain, G.W. Williams, who is buried right here in Dedham in the Old Village Cemetery. According to Joan Pagliuca, historian and Board Member of the Dedham Historical Society and Museum, who was interviewed for the article and leads tours of the Cemetery, the OVC has many stories to tell that will continue to be revealed as the restoration continues.

Video: The Maritana Shipwreck

A Note of Thanks

We are so grateful to the many generous donors who have made the restoration of the Old Village Cemetery possible, and for the enthusiastic support of the Dedham community, and to the many volunteers who have given their time and effort to the project. This season we are trying hard to make the Old Village Cemetery a source of pride and beauty for the Town of Dedham and its residents at a time when bright spots are sorely needed. We hope that you will continue to be able to support our efforts at this difficult time when the strength and resilience of our community is being tested as never before in memory. Until the crisis passes, please look after yourselves and support those who are providing for the comfort and care of the victims of COVID-19.

– Marie-Louise Kehoe

Old Village Cemetery Scavenger Hunt Provides Family Fun and Historical Exploration

Old Village Cemetery neighbors Meg Duncan and her daughter Cookie recently created a scavenger hunt for kids, families, and individuals looking for a little outdoor time and entertainment while maintaining social distance. The “treasures” are some of the beautiful gravestone carvings in the Cemetery. Simply open the scavenger guide using this Google Slides link, start at the main gate on Village Avenue, and enjoy a little time exploring one of Dedham’s historic landmarks.

Meg and Cookie noticed that a lot more families with kids have been visiting the cemetery in the past few weeks.

“We thought we could provide a little entertainment in the form of a scavenger hunt with photos of some of our favorite stone carvings,” explains Meg. “It’s also been a nice project for both of us, with our extra time at home. Cookie is a senior at Dedham High School who is hoping to study history at college next year, so we couldn’t resist including some of our favorite stories as well.”

Happy Holidays

The Dedham Village Preservation Assoc., Inc. (501(c)3) and the Town of Dedham gratefully thank all the generous donors who are helping us restore the Old Village Cemetery, one of America’s oldest and most significant Colonial burial grounds. With your help, we are making great progress!

Happy Holidays, and wishing you a healthy and productive 2020.

Marie Louise Kehoe, Chairman
Joseph Flanagan, Director, Dedham DPW

Giving Tuesday 2019

I’d like to personally thank you for your continued support of Dedham’s Old Village Cemetery. Renovation is well underway with the continued cleaning of headstones, removal of dead or overgrown trees, and the installation of handsome new gates at the entrance on Village Avenue. If you haven’t been by the cemetery recently, I’d encourage you to do so, though there is much work yet to be done.

We are bringing Dedham’s history back to life.

Today, on Giving Tuesday, a national day of giving that kicks off the charitable season, I’d like to ask that you make a gift of any size to the Old Village Cemetery.

You can donate here.

We have ambitious plans to return the cemetery to its former glory, ensuring that it will continue to be a treasured historic landmark in Dedham – today and in perpetuity. We can do this with your help!

Many thanks for your consideration.

Happy holidays!

Marie Louise Kehoe

Marie Louise Kehoe’s Letter of Thanks

I want to thank the more than 200 guests who attended the Gravedigger’s Gala on Friday night at the Endicott Estate to benefit the renovation of the Old Village cemetery. I had a wonderful time, and it looked as if everybody else did too, and that was our objective during the many months of planning that went into the event. I am so grateful to the gala Committee for the hard work and dedication that they unselfishly gave on behalf of a cause that has been close to my heart for many years. To Co-chairs Darcy Lane and Maureen Joyce, thank you for your inspired leadership, and to Jonathon Briggs, Anne Cadigan, Nancy Clement, Tracy Driscoll, Joe Flanagan, Michele Heffernan, Mary Louise Kehoe, Jeannine Lathum, Johanna McBrien, Glenn McGibbon, and Ted Russell, thank you for the many talents that you contributed to the planning of an evening of hair-raising good fun. A special thanks to Jim Bride for his tantalizing video promos at the Community Theater that brought the Gravedigger’s Ghost to life after death, and, of course, to Dedham DPW Director, Joe Flanagan, who has been charged with the daunting task of resurrecting the dead, and whose hard work has made this three-year project possible. Joe’s steady hand has guided the work from the beginning, and is everywhere in evidence throughout the Cemetery, from the handsome Village Avenue entrances, to the newly repaired monuments and headstones. And, I am so grateful to the Dedham Visionary Access Corporation, community TV at its best, Executive Director, Donna Greer, and her creative staff, Brian, Dennis, and George, for their coverage prior to, and during, the Gala.

A delightful surprise during the evening was the presentation by State Representative, Paul McMurtry, and State Senator, Mike Rush of a check for $150,000 from the State to the Dedham Village Preservation Association, Inc., the 501(c)3 that is funding this project. I also want to thank those who contributed in-kind to our success: the New England Patriots, the Calgary Flames, Bellestar Jewelry, Horizon Aviation, Bartlett Tree Experts, Jim Bride, Molly Jackson, Nancy Sargent Howell, the Dedham Community Theater, Murph’s Place, Big Bear, Ron’s Ice Cream, Café Tremezzo, King’s Dining & Entertainment, Boston’s Dreamland Wax Museum, Bostonia Public House, Total Wine, Dr. Anna Vishart, DDS, Horizon Beverage Co., M.S. Walker, Inc., Wegman’s, Photographer, Kerry Hawkins, and the artists who contributed their imaginative decorations to the Gravedigger’s shovels: Carol Haggerty, Peter Reynolds, Diane Gaikazova, Wiley Holton, Liz Boston, Sal D’Antona, and rali Weaver…and, finally to Madame Dar-see, whose imaginative flights of fancy into the future bode good things for Dedham and for the Old Village Cemetery Restoration Project. Thank you all, the work continues, and we look forward to seeing you, again, next year.

Sincerely,

Marie Louise Kehoe, Project Chairman

Photo credit: Kerry Hawkins