Restoration, Conservation, and Preservation of the

Falmouth Old Town Burying Ground

There have been many efforts to preserve the Old Town Burying Ground dating back to the early 20th century.

Since 2003, Donna E. Walcovy - Cemetery Conservator, has been working to preserve the history of the Town of Falmouth by restoring this burying ground. Donna works every Tuesday from mid-May through late September; cleaning, resetting, and repairing the gravestones. She does this as a volunteer and receives no salary.


  Rev. Henry Herbert Smythe, founder of The Falmouth Historical Society spent the summer of 1903 crawling around the burying ground copying down the inscriptions on the headstones. Rev. Smythe also drew a map, noting footstones and unmarked burials.

 It must be noted Rev. Smythe only recorded gravestones and noted their location for 3/4th of the graveyard and only provided a location of footstone, not inscriptions on the footstones were provided. The original map and copying of the gravestone inscriptions are at The Falmouth Historical Society.

To view a twenty week series in The Falmouth Enterprise from 1903 - 1904 view the Smythe Reading.


           Part of the Smythe Map                                Example of the inscriptions


From the 1930's through the 1960's several articles in The Falmouth Enterprise describe various efforts to clean up the burying ground.

1960's - 1970's

 In either the late 1960's or early 1970's in and effort to preserve the historic gravestones many of the slate and a few marble gravestones were incased in cement.

 This was typical of efforts at preservation at the time but has proven to be harmful to the gravestones. The grave stones can not breathe and cracks have resulted as in this photograph to the right. To matter worse some kind of sealant was painted onto the stones which prevented water from escaping from the stone. Efforts are now underway to remove the sealant from each stone. It is impossible to remove the concrete without damaging the gravestones.

Preparation for the Bicentennial ~ 1975

In 1975 the Engineering Division surveyed the entire four and a half acres of The Falmouth Old Town Burying Ground.  



After considerable damage was done by Hurricane Bob (August of 1992) to this historic burial ground a group was formed: The Friends of The Old Town Burying Ground *. In the Summer of 1993 Ann and Robert Sears spent their summer crawling around the graveyard taking photographs of each headstone, footstone and rock that might be a burial marker. This was the first effort to document all the gravestones using photography. This survey by the Sears has proved invaluable giving a photographic representative look at the burial ground and the condition of each stone.

  Each stone was given a number and the Sears tried to keep to the numbering system set up by Rev. Smythe on his 1903 map. Since Smythe did not mark or number burial rocks, nor one fourth of the grave yard it has been difficult, but not impossible to correlate both reports.

  * The Friends group helped to clean gravestones but was short lived.

  Ann Sears spent the fall of 1993 typing, on an electric typewriter, the complete inscription of each gravestone, including the footstones (not done by Smythe in 1903). She also noted the condition of each gravestone and additional information. To see an example of the Sears Report, click the thumb nail.

  Ann also identified several gravestones of men who served in the Revolutionary War and had Veterans Services flags placed at their gravesite. Unfortunately the flags have either been removed or mowed down and no representation of her efforts exist today (2010) in the burial ground.                                                                            


  One Hundred years after Rev. Smythe began the first preservation of The Old Town Burying Ground the Town hired the Fannin's to begin restoration efforts for a total of three weeks. Donna E. Walcovy, Chair and Director of The Falmouth Genealogical Society ~ Cemetery Transcription Project was contacted by the Town to provide volunteers for the project. The first week was in April of 2003, it was cold, rainy, and miserable weather, only Walcovy showed up for the five, full days! The second week was in August and several members of The Falmouth Genealogical Society volunteered to clean gravestones and help reset some of the gravestones. During both weeks the men of the DPW - Parks and Recreation Department, who maintained the old graveyard, (mowing) were also assigned to the Fannin's for the restoration efforts.


  In the early summer it was decided by Ann Sears and Donna E. Walcovy to set a week in August as; Help Preserve the Old Town Burying Ground. Members of The Falmouth Genealogical Society volunteered to clean several gravestones under the direction of Cemetery Transcription Chair, Donna E. Walcovy. Donna also enlisted volunteers from the Tuesday Falmouth Historical Society walks into Falmouth's history, which ended at the graveyard where Donna toured the visitors through the graveyard explaining the history, types of gravestones and preservation efforts. Donna also enlisted her young neighbors who helped clean gravestones in August of 2003 to take the map from 1975 to color the gravestones needing cleaning and/or repair.



  Donna E. Walcovy in conjunction with Brian Dale Superintendent of Division of the DPW - Parks and Recreation developed the Preservation Plan for the last week of the Fannin's work. Volunteers were gathered from the Historical Society, the Genealogical Society, neighbors of the burying ground, Baker Monuments, and Donna's neighbor Sam Moore. (Pictured on the left in the above photo.) 


  In 2006, Donna E. Walcovy now a Cemetery Conservator, spent the summer crawling around this old graveyard with the 1903/4 Smythe published reading, his map, the Sears Report of 1993, the map from 1975, and the Fannin's report of their conservation efforts.  The Smythe map proved invaluable, this was the first time anyone had compared the current (2006) location of headstones and footstones with Smythe. A few headstones were missing and many footstones were missing.













© 2008 - 2010  The Falmouth Enterprise, Falmouth Genealogical Society, Donna E. Walcovy

This site was last updated 08/26/10

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© 2008 - 2010 The Falmouth Enterprise, Falmouth Genealogical Society, Donna E. Walcovy
his site was last updated 08/26/10