Lincolnville selectmen discuss cemetery on private property
Lincolnville — The Lincolnville Board of Selectmen took no action following an executive session Nov. 26 to discuss Kendall Cemetery on North Cobbtown Road.
The small burial ground, which is located on private property, has been the subject of some discourse since Lincolnville Town Administrator David Kinney received a letter from Wendell Wilson of Tucson, Ariz., in August. Wilson wrote in the letter he is the descendant of Harriet Huse Wilson who is buried in the cemetery.
Wilson stated in his Aug. 22 letter that he wants the Lincolnville Cemetery Committee to be "allowed and instructed" to "clean up and maintain the Kendall Cemetery where some of [Wilson's] relatives are buried." Wilson wrote that his family has a "clear legal claim to rights regarding access to the Kendall Cemetery." The letter was signed by 13 members of the Wilson family.
Upon receipt of Wilson's letter, Kinney, at the instruction of the board of selectmen, sent a letter David Pattullo, the owner of the property where the cemetery is located. Kinney's letter informed Pattullo of Wilson's request and asked him to allow "town representatives to inspect the cemetery, document available evidence of the cemetery, clean up the cemetery and provide [the town's] statutorily required obligations."
Pattullo responded with a letter of his own Sept. 15, requesting respect for his "rights to peace and privacy as a citizen of Lincolnville," turning down the request that the town be allowed to enter and maintain the cemetery.
Kinney said Nov. 27 that the town has an obligation to maintain the graves of veterans, and it remains unknown for certain whether any veterans are buried in Kendall Cemetery. Kinney said a property owner can elect to assume responsibility for proper maintenance of those graves if chosen.
Pattullo stated in his letter that he has previously told the cemetery committee that there is "no evidence" of a veteran's grave in Kendall Cemetery. Pattullo wrote that in the event that there was a veteran buried in the cemetery on his property it would be "a privilege" for him to assume the requisite responsibilities associated with maintaining that grave site.
Corelyn Senn is an alternate member of the cemetery trustees and resident of South Cobbtown Road. Senn submitted a letter to selectmen Oct. 7 detailing the history of the area and detailing four existing headstones that were documented in Kendall Cemetery in 2006 when Pattrullo took photos of them. One marks the grave of Harriet Huse Wilson, who died in 1830 at age 22. Senn states in her letter that "'old timers remember as many as 12 and possibly more stones in the cemetery."
Kinney said there are several other cemeteries on private property in Lincolnville that are maintained by the town. He explained that maintenance includes communicating with the property owner once or twice annually to arrange a mutually convenient time for town personnel to access the cemetery and perform maintenance such as cutting the grass. Kinney said he has been told that the stones in Kendall Cemetery are presently not upright and said he is unsure whether their position is the result of time or human actions.
"We have very basic information about it," said Kinney of Kendall Cemetery.
Senn stated in her letter that it is unknown whether veterans are buried in the cemetery. She wrote that the cemetery is, by Pattullo's own admission, presently "covered with branches." She stated "the Kendall Cemetery is the only known cemetery in [Lincolnville] that is not maintained and that [the town] cannot be proud of historically or aesthetically."
In a Nov. 27 interview Senn reiterated that the committee would like access to the cemetery because they "care deeply." She said the request for access is in no way meant to violate Pattullo's privacy.
"We do not want to bother Mr. Pattullo," she said, she adding the historic statutes regarding cemetery maintenance are not "as cut and dried as some people thought." She said research of those historic obligations is still underway.
A call to Pattullo seeking comment has not been returned.
Courier Publications reporter Jenna Lookner can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.