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Vandals damage graves in Northwood's oldest cemetery
The final resting place of the Bartlett family, which died between the mid-19th century to early 20th century, was disturbed when vandals damaged their marker recently in Canterbury Cemetery in Northwood. (JOHN QUINN/Union Leader Correspondent)
NORTHWOOD - Vandals damaged more than 50 gravesites last week in the town's oldest cemetery, which includes the resting place of some of the first settlers.
More than a dozen historic markers were broken while others were moved around the Canterbury Road Cemetery on Old Canterbury Road, according to Sherman Elliot, the superintendent of cemeteries for more than four decades.
"I've been working in cemeteries all my life," Elliot said." This is tragic."
Elliot said the Canterbury Road Cemetery was the only one of the town's six cemeteries damaged in the recent vandalism.
"That's the only one that's been badly targeted," Elliot said, adding the half-acre cemetery on a dirt road is surrounded by open fields, giving vandals plenty of room to run and hide.
The ongoing vandalism in the historic cemetery - which is the final resting place of 150 to 200 residents, including members of the Grand Army of the Republic and veterans of more recent conflicts - is disrespectful to the families of the deceased, the community and the entire state, Elliot said.
He suspects a mixture of teenagers, young adults and others are to blame for the damage over the years.
"Some of them (the damaged graves) are the first settlers," Elliot said, adding the gravestones for the parents of Gov. Albert Brown, who served the state in the 1920s, also were damaged and moved.
"The last burial there was in the 1960s," Elliot said, adding that as part of his volunteer position, he keeps meticulous burial records.
Those records proved valuable as volunteers recovered the broken gravestones and returned them to their original locations, Elliot said.
Elliot said the town has agreed to pay more than $1,000 to repair the damaged stones, which brings him little comfort.
"Just as soon as they're fixed, they'll be back," Elliot said. He said that previously, only a handful of graves were affected.
Anyone with information about the vandalism can contact police at 942-9101.
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John Quinn may be reached at email@example.com.
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