In 2015, a project was taken on by Don Jarvis to address the issue of serious neglect and overgrowth at the First Parish Burying Ground in Newbury. Often working single-handedly or with a small number of recruited volunteers, the project was entirely self-funded but community outreach was needed as the project continued to grow. Through videos, newspaper articles and social media the project slowly came together, one by one hundreds upon hundreds of headstones were cleared of overgrowth and documented. Today, the grounds no longer looked neglected.
Just over two years later, the Burying Ground is in the best condition that it has been in over 20 years. The project volunteers all agree with the First Parish Church that they are in a great position now to establish a Cemetery Committee and work towards maintaining and caring for the burying ground going forward.
It has become clear that there are other areas in the town with similar needs to what was experienced at First Parish Burying Ground. We are all proud of the work we have done in the past and feel we are in a good position to now expand our efforts. We will continue to do what we do best – address unique community needs, provide documented research and cultivate preservation efforts. Effective January 2017, a group was formed called Preserving Newbury Coalition (Preserving Newbury).
We feel we have sufficient resources and skills that can be utilized to care for, protect, and bring fresh life to Newbury. This will also include the Community Flag Disposal Box located in Byfield, MA, as we have a significant role in placing all of the flags on the veteran graves in town for Memorial Day.
Our project at First Parish Burying Ground was financially supported by volunteers or through very small fundraising efforts. As a group, we understand the importance of fundraising and building support from the community. One of our main goals this year is developing a strong core of fundraising activities to support our efforts and strengthen our support from the community.
Preserving Newbury Coalition will help build the Town records with regard to the Burying Grounds and Cemeteries, assist the Burying Grounds and Cemeteries in Newbury with preservation efforts, protect and care for historic landmarks (including American Flags), and preserve the history of the Town for future generations. We will be working in conjunction with various established community groups in these efforts.
Preserving Newbury is already in the planning stages of some great projects for this year as well as community events, including one for Memorial Day Weekend. We thank you all for your support throughout this process and we look forward to a great 2017.
Together we can make a difference, together we are stronger. Together we will Preserve Newbury!