Picture: The Brisbin Cemetery stands on a hill across the road from the site of the Maudeaking house on Parkhurst Road. A wonderful stone wall keeps the cemetery separate from the surrounding forest. The stones are original to the time of the town’s first settlers. Joseph Bris bin’s stone is still legible as are some of the King family stones.
The cemeteries in Wilton are on display this week. The fresh flags are flying and the flower arrangements are in full bloom. Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day because it was a day set aside to honor the Civil War deceased veterans by decorating their graves. It was first celebrated in 1866 in Waterloo, New York.
Wilton is fortunate to have a system of caring for our sixteen designated cemeteries. There are two large cemeteries where lots are still available and eleven cemeteries that were once family owned and are now in the care of the town.
Two of our cemeteries, the Brick Church on Northern Pines, and Louden, on Louden Road were once in the care of church associations, but the churches no longer exist. The Wilton Developmental Center cemetery on Northern Pines is still under New York State control and care. One of our original cemeteries cannot be found. It is documented to have two burials but is now an overgrown field. It was dated in the early 1800’s.
The tow active cemeteries are the Ellsworth (formerly New Gurn Spring Cemetery) on Ballard Road and the South Wilton cemetery on Route 50 near Jones Road. The Ellsworth has a few lots for sale and the South Wilton is regulated by an association which has a larger number of lots available. More information is available at the Historians office.
The Wilton Highway Department has two employees designated to care for the cemeteries as well as highway duties. The cemetery fund is separate. The cemetery laws are notoriously vague but Wilton has been known, county wide, to have better control over these historic sites. A 1990’s item was included in the Town Code to protect them against encroachment by residential and commercial development. The nearest structure would not be less than 100 feet from the lot line of cemeteries. The Planning Board may also require a fence if necessary.
The Town Historian and members of the Wilton Heritage Society documented and mapped all cemeteries in Wilton during 1999-2003. All veterans were listed for further research. The marble stones were deteriorating at that time and may not be legible much longer. Dave Bixby videotaped most of the Saratoga County cemeteries later and made them available to the Town. Most of this information is on the Heritage Hunters of Saratoga County website.
The next big project for preservation will be the cleaning and restoration of the marble gravestones in Emerson’s (Old Gurn Spring cemetery). New techniques are now available and we hope to have a work-shop this summer. Preserving History is a never ending project for those who cherish the old cemeteries.