Chris Falk, Contributor

Pete Demick (with shovel) explains the process of re-setting a tilting grave marker. Courtesy photo.

A dozen volunteers, members of Vermont Old Cemetery Association (VOCA), attended a graveyard restoration project on Saturday, May 20, at the West Burying Ground on Greenbush Road. The purpose of the project was to reset or straighten some of the historic headstones that were leaning, sinking or had fallen over.

The project was spearheaded by Diane Leary, a Charlotte resident, VOCA member and longtime Cemetery Commission supporter. A workshop was led by Pete Demick, president of Vermont Walkways & Stone Preservation. Demick showed the group the proper way to reset a tilting grave marker without scratching or breaking the stone.

The cemetery hosted its first burial in 1785 and is the final resting place for some of Charlotte’s earliest residents. Centuries of surface runoff and harsh Vermont winters have since taken a toll on the older markers, and much work is needed to preserve this rich historic resource. Victoria Zulkoski, Charlotte Cemetery Commission chair, said it will take time to restore all the stones, but great progress was made this past weekend, with dignity restored to some monuments.

Demick and the VOCA volunteers straightened 27 stones on Saturday, but Zulkoski said there are many more stones in need of re-setting and several dozen in need of more extensive repairs. She asks that anyone interested in making a donation toward gravestone repair or participating in volunteer projects contact the Charlotte Cemetery Commission though Town Hall.