FARMINGTON — A group of volunteers will improve a neglected veterans cemetery in Farmington where some graves date back to the Revolutionary War.

At a recent Board of Selectmen meeting, the board approved a proposal to allow volunteers to fix up the Red Schoolhouse Cemetery with donated money in a project slated to start this spring.

In the meantime, the cemetery has been reduced over the years to a mix of scattered gravestones and unmarked graves where the stones have since been moved or knocked over. Frostheaves and weather have worn down and cracked the stones, but those involved with the project say there are three gravestones and possibly seven more buried remains that have lost their markers.

“Some of the veterans have been long forgotten about,” said Charles Bennett, co-chairman of the Veterans Memorial Cemetery Association, which will be involved in the project.

The cemetery is on a parcel behind Walmart, and the project was proposed by the store manager, who said employees will volunteer to work on the project and the company will donate money for the restoration.

Greg Patterson, manager of Walmart in Farmington, said the Walmart Foundation gives money to projects that employees volunteer to work on under the company’s Volunteerism Always Pays program.

He said the store has about 50 employees interested in the project, which under the grant program would mean about $5,000 would be donated.

Patterson said he has been contacted by people outside of Walmart, such as by Farmington contractor E.L. Vining & Son, who have shown interest in the project.

“There’s a lot of excitement here,” he said. “It’s taking a shape of its own.”

Preliminary research shows there were gravestones from the early 1800s with veterans from the War of 1812 and the Revolutionary War, said Patterson. Bennett said they’ve found family names like Butterfield and Briggs for the veterans and cemetery.

Patterson said the project calls for clearing back the overgrown brush, restoring the headstones and possibly adding benches and a sign stating what the cemetery is. The restoration effort would be a spring effort, and Patterson said they would host a ceremony after the work is completed.

“Maybe around Memorial Day,” he said.

Bennett said the federal government would pay to issue new stones for the graves, and the association would look into having markers and flags to mark the remains of veterans after they determine who was buried on the land and where.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252

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