Speaker for Society Annual Meeting will be DHS senior, Brett Elliott–March 30 1:00 (open to public) Membership meeting follows at 3:00

By Sharon Lakey, Danville His­tor­i­cal Society

Danville High School senior, Brett Elliott, is pictured in the Little Drew cemetery in the Tampico area of North Danville. He is kneeling above what may be the oldest gravestone in Danville.

Danville High School senior, Brett Elliott, is pic­tured in the Lit­tle Drew ceme­tery in the Tampico area of North Danville. He is kneel­ing above what may be the old­est grave­stone in Danville.

Senior Brett Elliott was out of luck when work­ing out his final year’s sched­ule at Danville High School—no more his­tory courses were offered at his level. So he and his­tory teacher, Jeremy White, worked out an inde­pen­dent study oppor­tu­nity. Being a hands-on, outside-kind-of-guy, Brett decided to focus on Danville’s town ceme­ter­ies. There are 11 of these scat­tered through­out the town, and are under the juris­dic­tion of the Select Board. The largest in Danville, Danville Green, has its own gov­ern­ing organization.

Though ceme­ter­ies may seem like a strange thing for a young man to study, Brett explained it this way: “These ceme­ter­ies are one of the only ways to phys­i­cally con­nect with the past; they’re in places that used to be unique set­tle­ments in the Town. My favorites are the lit­tle, out-of-the-way ones. They are peace­ful places, not creepy at all.”

He would go ceme­tery vis­it­ing dur­ing the class period to which he was assigned. To find the ceme­ter­ies, he used infor­ma­tion on the web where he found a list­ing of and direc­tions to all the ceme­ter­ies in Danville. On one such out­ing, while vis­it­ing the Lit­tle Drew ceme­tery in the Tampico area of North Danville, he made an excit­ing dis­cov­ery. The web­site reported that no stones had been inscribed in the ceme­tery, as it is very rus­tic. But dur­ing his visit, Brett noticed one of the bur­ial stones looked odd; there were inden­tions on the face of it that looked intentional.

According to the hand-carved stone, Samuel Stevens was buried there in 1795.

Accord­ing to the hand-carved stone, Samuel Stevens was buried there in 1795.

And, sure enough, after he cleaned it off, he could read a hand-carved inscrip­tion: “Samuel Stevens was born in 1723 and died in 1795.” Think­ing he had found some­thing impor­tant, he went to the Town Clerk’s office to look up death records. There were none for a Samuel Stevens, but he did appear on the 1790 cen­sus records: a house­hold of four—three males over 16 and 1 female.

Why wasn’t there any death record?” he asked himself.

Accord­ing to Phil Somers, an avid local ceme­tery expert, there is an answer to his ques­tion. “To file a death record would cost money. The Stevens’ didn’t need to pay it, because the record was ‘writ­ten in stone.’”

On Jan­u­ary 9, Brett gave a pre­sen­ta­tion of his find­ings to the stu­dent body at Danville High School. It was so well received and inter­est­ing, we have asked him to be the speaker at our annual meet­ing on March 30.

Note: Googling “rootsweb Danville VT” will get one to the site that Brett used to locate ceme­ter­ies, as well as a wealth of other his­tor­i­cal Danville data. Most of this infor­ma­tion was gath­ered and shared by volunteers.

 

DHS senior, Brett Elliott–March 30 1:00 (open to public) Membership meeting follows at 3:00" onclick="return false;" style="text-decoration:none; color:#0098cc; font-size:11px; line-height:20px;"> Share
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One Response to Speaker for Society Annual Meeting will be DHS senior, Brett Elliott–March 30 1:00 (open to public) Membership meeting follows at 3:00

  1. Tessa Keough says:

    What a fas­ci­nat­ing idea. Kudos to both the stu­dent and the teacher for using the edu­ca­tional process this way — we need more of this respect for and inter­est in our com­mu­ni­ties’ past — nice way to start with the ceme­ter­ies. How­ever, as am quite a far dis­tance from Ver­mont, won­der­ing if you plan to record (either audio or both audio/visual) Brett’s pre­sen­ta­tion to share with the pub­lic? Con­grats to Brett on such a ter­rific project and for mak­ing his­tory come alive!

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