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Center Lincolnville Burial Ground

Center Burial Ground sign
Photo by MaryLee Mills

Center Burial Ground
Photo by MaryLee Mills

Photo by Corelyn Senn

Centre Lincolnville Burying Ground, or Lower Cemetery, on the Heal Road, came into being on May 30, 1846 when Joel McKinney conveyed 115 square yards  for $40.00  to “Centre Lincolnville Burying Ground, a body politic corporate organized pursuant to law for the purpose of purchasing land to be used as a burying ground.” The land ran along the road between Thomas McKinney’s (Joel’s father’s) house and the Common. We know where the McKinney house was but any information on the Common would be welcome. We do not know who owned the land before the McKinneys but it may have been William Calderwood who was deeded a tract by Gen Knox but no record of it exists. It would explain the many early Calderwood burials there. No mention of a cemetery exists before 1846.

Unlike many cemeteries, Centre Lincolnville Burying Ground Corporation followed all the legal formalities in its founding. Fifteen men: Joseph Matthews, Benjamin Jones, Levi Matthews, Isaac Buzzell, Cyrus Noyes, Jonas Knight, Jacob Thomas, Rufus Knight, Samuel Rackliff, Sampson Knight, Thomas McKinney, George McKinney, Samuel Blood, John McAllister, and John Hohn wrote a letter on April 16, 1846, to request that Justice of the Peace, Francis Fletcher, impose a warrant on Samuel Rackliff to call a meeting of the Proprietors to form themselves into a body politic to establish said burying ground. This he did, and on April 20, they had their first meeting at which time the duties of the officers and the bylaws were determined in detail. They met again on April 27, and determined that the name of the corporation would be the Centre Lincolnville Burying Ground Company. Shares in the corporation sold for $1.00 and that price could not be raised without a vote of the whole body. The Proprietors were directed to sell shares. Each shareholder received a certificate and each share provided a burial lot. Almost immediately 42 families purchased shares, many purchasing two.  A meeting of the stockholders was to be held annually on the first Monday in April although later they voted that it could be any Monday in April. Special meetings could be held at the request of 5 members.

The cemetery itself is triangular in shape, with one side following the road, wider at the top and coming to a point at the lower end. There are 110 plots laid out. They were assigned to families as they were purchased.  On November 2, 1847, it was noted that the directors were to give proper notice if the graves were to be “regulated’” which meant moving some of the dead. They were then required to provide a new lot on which to move each of the disinterred bodies.

In October, 1846, the Company collected $85.00 from the sold shares and used it for fencing. It was voted to “have the ground leveled on the north side as near as practicable and move the wall from the road and have it laid up on said northern side, and on the road, that we have a picquet fence built, said fence to be built of cedar posts with three nails to nail pickets to said posts to be set within eight feet of each other.” (Spelling is original). The fence was to be built in “a workmanlike manner and painted.”  Sometime later, metal gates and fencing were installed and can still be seen today.

There is a curious entry from the Minutes which is separated from its date. It states that immediately after he was chosen President it was “Voted that Albion Drake be a committee and he is hereby instructed to confer with the Selectmen concerning what the Town have buried in the burying ground belonging to the company and report at the next annual meeting.” Unfortunately I cannot find a followup report.

In the 1860’s, Joel McKinney sold off his land and moved with his family to Livermore. In 1866, he sold his two shares (lots 21 and 22) in the cemetery to David Hunter for $12.00. Neither Joel nor his father are buried here but his grandfather, Elder Thomas McKinney, first minister of the Center Church, and other family members are. Significant individuals and families from Lincolnville’s past and present are buried here. Stop by and take a look.
Article by Corelyn Senn
Originally published in The Camden Herald

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