November 25, 2017
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Cemetery group offers summer meetings, gravestone workshop

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It only takes a bit of sunshine and a warm breeze to lure us to head out to cemeteries, hoping to find an informative gravestone or grouping of markers that will allow us to make sense of the names and dates we’ve been compiling busily over the winter.

Whenever you go looking around a cemetery, be sure to wear good footwear and tread carefully, keeping in mind that the ground underfoot can be uneven year-round, not only during wet springtime. Always take a cell phone if you go alone, but it’s safer for many reasons to go with someone else.

Those in the know about cemeteries, and those wanting to learn more, will benefit from joining the Maine Old Cemetery Association, “Dedicated to the Preservation of Maine’s Neglected Cemeteries.”

Founded in 1968, MOCA publishes an informative quarterly and holds three meetings a year, with this year’s gatherings taking place on May 17 in Starks, July 26 in Portland and Sept. 27 in St. George.

The Saturday, May 17 meeting will be held 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Starks Community Center, 57 Anson Road, Route 43. If you go by GPS, the coordinates are -69.926 and 44.736. Admission is $3 at the door.

A talk on “Our Town” will begin at 9:15 a.m. with a member of the Starks Historical Society, which is hosting the meeting.

Cheryl Willis Patten will speak on “Grave Matters in Starks: Cemeteries.” Then all are welcome to attend the MOCA business meeting at 10:30 p.m.

Lunch will be available at noon for $7, with a choice of lasagna or veggie lasagna provided by Starks Enrichment and Education Society.

At 1 p.m. there will be a demonstration of “Ground Penetrating Radar Technology” at cemeteries close by.

To attend the May 17 meeting, please notify Cheryl Willis Patten of your lunch choice by May 2 by email at, or write her at 1161 East Pond Road, Smithfield, ME 04978. You may pay at the door for your lunch, but MOCA does need your reservation and meal selection.

This MOCA meeting offers a great opportunity for genealogists from around the state to visit and learn about cemeteries and graveyards in Starks, Mercer, Farmington and other towns. One of my Revolutionary War ancestors, Benjamin Young of Wiscasset, is buried in Mercer.

MOCA will sponsor a four-day gravestone preservation workshop 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Friday, May 30, through Monday, June 2, at Old North Parish Church Cemetery, Wiley’s Corner, St. George.

The workshop will be led by Joe Ferrannini, a professional gravestone conservator and owner of Grave Stone Matters in Hoosick Falls, N.Y. A similar workshop was held in 2011 with 50 people participating at Oxbow Cemetery in Norridgewock.

There is no set fee for the workshop, but donations are appreciated for each day of participation. Those attending must pre-register by sending an email to Cheryl Patten at, with ST. GEORGE in the subject line, visit, or write Cheryl Patten at her mailing address listed above.

The MOCA website also offers information from Helen Shaw on the cemetery bill, LD 1662, regarding maintenance of veterans’ graves. For an amended copy of the bill, contact Shaw at

Membership to MOCA is $5 a year, $20 for five years or $100 for a life membership sent to MOCA, PO Box 641, Augusta, ME 04332-0641.

The next meeting of the Penobscot County Genealogical Society will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 16, in the Lecture Hall on the third floor of Bangor Public Library, 145 Harlow St., Bangor. All are welcome to attend.

For information on researching family history in Maine, see Genealogy Resources under Family Ties at Send genealogy queries to Family Ties, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402, or email