photos and story by Doug McClure
HARDWICK – For the past few years, the Saint John De Crevecoeur chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), together with the Vermont Cemetery Association, has been working to find and restore the gravesites and cemeteries of Revolutionary War Veterans.
In Hardwick and East Hardwick, Revolutionary War veterans are interred in four public cemeteries, according to DAR. After the graves are located, restoration work will be performed to upright toppled stones, stabilize graves, manicure the cemetery, and repair damaged stones.
Hardwick Historical Society Board Member Donna Hale, who works with DAR, is conducting local research for the project. The restorations are not limited to graves of Revolutionary War veterans but focus on the entire graveyard. Volunteers will perform the work.
During the Revolutionary War, little more than skirmishes were staged in the Hardwick area. What remains from those days is mostly geographical, such as the original Bayley-Hazen Road, which now exists only in pieces. At the time of the war, the Northeast Kingdom was mostly wilderness. The original Bayley-Hazen Road was started in 1778 by Colonel Jacob Bayley and abandoned once the Continental Army forces discovered a shortened road for military supplies could also benefit the British. A second attempt at building a road off the original road, by General Moses Hazen in 1779, met with a similar result.
Hale said that of the four cemeteries Hardwick’s oldest is Center Cemetery on Bridgman Hill. Center Cemetery dates to approximately 1775 and approximately 500 souls are interred there. The cemetery features a marker stone for what was then considered the center of Hardwick.
According to Hale, Center Cemetery houses 10 of the 16 confirmed graves of Revolutionary War veterans: Rev. Solomon Aiken, Corp. Abel Conant, Jonathan Curtis, John Fox, Samuel French, Deacon Thomas Fuller, Maj. John Goss, Capt. Elias Hall, Joseph Thomas, and Joseph Weeks. Some headstones are marked with American Legion markers, others with American flags. Some graves offer no indication that the person interred was a veteran. Some have weathered so many Vermont seasons that their inscriptions, no matter how ornate, are worn almost to the stone.
The second cemetery, off the East Hardwick-section of the modern-day Bayley-Hazen Road, is Hazen Road Cemetery. Hazen Road dates roughly to 1820 and has approximately 300 graves. Revolutionary War soldiers James Adams, Charles Bailey, and John Hatch are interred at Hazen Road. Two soldiers lie in the Sanborn Cemetery in East Hardwick, Capt. John Dow and Jonathan Stevens, and one more, Andrew Wheatley, in the Maple Street Cemetery in Hardwick. Both cemeteries date to around 1810.
That DAR is taking extra measures to clean up the cemeteries and right toppled stones in two of these cemeteries. Maple Street has not been used since 1945, and Hazen Road has was last used in 1975. Nearly as many people are buried in the four cemeteries as live in present-day Hardwick.
While sixteen veterans have been confirmed, and their resting places ascertained, Hale said an additional six are not yet verified: James Sinclair, Eleazer Nutting, Abel Carpenter, Samuel Steven, Reuben Wheatley, and David Norris. Research continues to discover where these men rest.
Hale said the Memorial Building’s Revolutionary War plaque is incomplete, having left off the names of many who served in the Revolutionary War. Hale said an attempt was made to rectify the situation at the turn of the 20th century, but no action was taken.
The DAR hopes to begin hands-on work on the project in June 2021. Hale is seeking volunteers and especially encourages Hazen Union students to lend a hand while learning more about the town’s history. She said a typical workday on the project would include a couple of hours of labor and, if lunches were donated to the effort, potentially an afternoon shift.