New Hampshire Old Graveyard Association

July 13, 2002


The summer meeting of the New Hampshire Old Graveyard Association was held at the Parker Store Building of the Goffstown Historical Society, Goffstown, NH on July 13, 2002. President Joan Casarotto presided.


Eleanor Porritt, Curator of the Goffstown Historical Society, welcomed us. She introduced the members of the hospitality committee and described the museum facilities.


Clark Bagnall read the minutes of the spring meeting. Doris Ashton, Corresponding Secretary, noted that, as always, she needs articles for the Rubbings. She noted that some of the human remains that Louise Tallman had mentioned at the May meeting, as being stored in the Archaeology Department at Franklin Pierce College, have been reburied in Lee. Also, the remains that originally came from Exeter have been reburied in that community.


Jean Mertinooke read the Treasurer’s report. She reported a balance of $2,456.40 as of July 9th. Her report was filed. She also noted that Louise Tallman recently underwent knee surgery and was unable to attend this meeting.


Clark Bagnall gave the Computer Committee report. Our new web site is progressing well. We recently had a productive meeting and the final design should be ready by the fall meeting.


Joan Casarotto read the proposed addition to Article 5, Section 7 of the by-laws, to permit the Corresponding Secretary to have an assistant. Carleton Vance moved that the change of the by-laws be accepted. After discussion Carleton Vance moved to amend the wording slightly. The amendment passed unanimously. The motion to accept the change as amended was also unanimous. The following sentence, as amended, has been added to the by-laws: “The Corresponding Secretary has the right to delegate some of the duties to a member of NHOGA.”


It was announced that the fall meeting would be held in Center Harbor. Bob Woodward will be the speaker. He has been the Town Surveyor and has great experience surveying town boundaries. We need meeting places for the May and July meetings next year. The September meeting is tentatively scheduled for Derry. The possibility of a meeting with the Friends of the Valley Cemetery in Manchester was discussed. Also a program featuring Barbara Rotundo speaking on metal monuments is a possibility.


Terry Knowles announced that the Franklin Pierce Cemetery in Concord would be restored. Funds have been raised and the work should begin in the near future.


Clark Bagnall spoke briefly on the history of Goffstown and the Parker Station neighborhood. The early history of the town reflects the dispute over the boundary between New Hampshire and Massachusetts. During the period of the dispute both provinces claimed the land. The first grant was made by Massachusetts to veterans of King Phillip’s War as Naragansett Township Number 4. After viewing the land the veterans refused the grant and asked for land elsewhere. After the boundary dispute was settled in 1741, New Hampshire re-granted the land and it was incorporated in 1761.


James Parker was prominent among the grantees of the town, and his descendants settled in the immediate neighborhood of the store. A member of the Parker family constructed the store building in the early 19th century, but he died fairly young and the store was taken over by two of his sons. When the New Hampshire Central Railroad was built in 1850, the Parker brothers were contracted to build a station building, hence the name Parker Station for the area. Later on the station became the junction point for the New Boston Railroad. The Parker bothers eventually moved their store to Goffstown village, and the old store building was used for a variety of purposes until it was acquired by the Historical Society.


The first cemetery to be toured is the Grasmere or Hillside Cemetery, earlier known as the Center Cemetery because it is located in what was the original town center. It is the oldest cemetery in Goffstown with stones dating to before the town’s incorporation. The second cemetery to be toured is the Shirley Hill Cemetery, which started out as a family cemetery for the Shirley family, but was purchased by the town to serve as a neighborhood cemetery for the Shirley Hill area.


The speaker for this meeting was Lars Nelson, Cemetery Commissioner for Goshen, who spoke on his technique for repairing broken gravestones. Ruth LaClair recruited him to manage the cemeteries in Goshen and he has worked closely with Art Jillette. He is enjoying the work. Landscaping is his hobby and he enjoys creating a beautiful surrounding for the gravesites. Art Nelson, no relation, began the task of cemetery restoration, but as he became elderly he was unable to keep up with the work.


When Lars became involved the cemeteries were in need of capital improvements. There were numerous broken stones. In researching restoration techniques he found much conflicting information. One good source was a self-published book by Paul Matty, who had set up a laboratory to measure damage done to the stone by various cleaning techniques. Many procedures do more damage to the stone than they solve. By experiment he found the best cleaning technique -- at least until something better comes along.


About 6 or 7 years ago Lars began designing a brace for repairing broken stones. The first version was not successful but about three years ago he came up with his present design. The brace is open-faced so you can read the inscription. It is manufactured of 11-gauge aluminum. Aluminum was chosen because it resists discoloration and is a neutral color that blends well with the stone. Also there is no chemical reaction between the brace and the stone. Each brace needs to be custom-made for the size of the stone.


His brace has several advantages over epoxy repair. Epoxy requires a clean break in a good quality stone. It cannot be used on stones that are crumbling or flaking and cannot be used if there are multiple breaks. Epoxy is both unsightly and irreversible, and may require bracing after the epoxy cures.


Compared to conventional braces, which are attached with pins to the stone, Lars’ brace is less costly. The minimum cost for drilling and pinning is $300 plus. The biggest advantage of his method is that it preserves the integrity of the stone. Another advantage is that it is easy to secure to the stone.


One disadvantage of his method is that it can’t be used with vertical fractures. He conducted a survey of 100 stones and found 65 with a single horizontal fracture, 27 stones with two horizontal fractures and 8 stones with three fractures. Few stones had vertical fractures.


Fred Oakley of the Association for Gravestone Studies has examined the brace and is enthusiastic. He agrees that it is a useful product. Lars has set a target rice for the brace at less that $100. A recent order was $94 each. To meet this price his supplier needs a minimum order of ten pieces. In addition to the brace, shims are required to get a tight fit with the stone. Lars is testing methods for marketing his brace and has begun the process to obtain a patent.


After lunch we toured the two cemeteries as described above.


Respectfully submitted,

Clark H Bagnall

Recording Secretary