BUXTON – The South Buxton Cemetery holds 465 graves of military veterans from every war dating back to the American Revolution.

Names on gravestones in the cemetery, incorporated in 1859, mark the history of the town. Saturday, the cemetery will be one of 19 in Maine and 600 nation-wide honoring its military dead with a ceremony in conjunction with Wreaths Across America.

“I get real emotional about it,” said Richard “Sandy” Atkinson, president of the South Buxton Cemetery Association.

The ceremony begins at 11:45 a.m. at the cemetery, 1187 River Road (Route 112), Buxton.

The Buxton ceremony coincides with arrival of thousands of wreaths from Maine at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. A truckload of wreaths will be delivered to the Buxton cemetery.

Chad Poitras, a cemetery board member, expects about 100 people to attend Buxton’s ceremony, which will include the laying of wreaths and a gun salute.

The ceremony features the Buxton Fire Department color guard and the Rev. John Libby, a veteran, who will be the keynote speaker. Groups attending include Buxton Police Department, scouts, Masonic Lodge and veterans.

Many ancestors of Buxton residents rest in the historic burial yard.

“My great-grandfather was in the Civil War,” said Burton Pease, association vice president, pointing to a tomb.

“I just buried my grandfather this week, he was 92,” Peter Pinkham, a cemetery board member, said as cemetery officials gathered last week.

A World War II Purple Heart recipient, the grandfather of the cemetery superintendent Jeff Grover of Limington is there, as are relatives of Buxton resident Louis Emery, a member of the cemetery board.

“We have a reason to be here,” Emery said.

The cemetery is adjacent to the historic Tory Hill Church. In the past six years, every cemetery stone has been cleaned.

Excluding the oldest part of the yard behind the church, the cemetery has 4,646 graves, according to Grover. “Everyone here is in a computer data base,” Grover said.

Cemetery records have proven to be a valued resource. Atkinson said the association receives calls for genealogical information and just recently had an inquiry from New Mexico about a colonel. Atkinson said the cemetery’s website gets five or six hits daily.

Planning for the future, the association has completed several improvements in a new section of the cemetery. Work has included installing an artesian well, water lines and electrical service.

The association cleared 4.5 acres for future use and Atkinson figures there’ll be room for 150 more years.

The annual budget is $53,000 and the cemetery depends on donations besides income from lot sales and burial fees. Atkinson said income, once about $5,000 annually from investments, is “nil” now.

In October, the board named a cemetery avenue in honor of Town Clerk John Myers, association secretary. Myers was recognized for 30 years of dedicated service to the cemetery.

Besides veterans, the cemetery includes the burial place of the town’s first ordained minister, the Rev. Paul Coffin, and a monument for famed children’s author Kate Douglas Wiggin.

“The most historical one has to be the minister,” Emery said. “(Wiggin) was the most known throughout the world.”

South Buxton Cemetery Association officials Richard Atkinson,
president, and Chad Poitras, board member, discuss ceremony plans
honoring Buxton veterans Saturday as part of Wreaths Across
America. (Staff photo by Robert Lowell)

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