One of the many great reasons Easton is such a wonderful town to live in is the New England tradition where neighbors come together to help each other with community projects that just can’t seem to get done any other way.

Anyone who has lived in town for more than a few years is familiar with Union Cemetery. And we all know how poorly it has been maintained of late. Fallen and toppled headstones. Bushes that obscure so many of the markers that have stood for decades. Grass that seems to get cut with less frequency every passing year.

Exactly 120 years ago this month, residents became so disgusted with the lack of maintenance at this cemetery that they banded together to incorporate the Union Cemetery Association of Easton. They formed a board of trustees and began a regular schedule of maintenance and improvements. It didn’t take long until Union became the beautiful resting place it should have been from the beginning.

But over the years, folks have moved and some of the newcomers have undoubtedly assumed that it was the town that took care of all the cemeteries in Easton, not just the inactive ones that are overseen by the town appointed Cemetery Commitee. Union slowly filled up, its last burial plots sold, and it soon faced the reality that routine maintenance was difficult to keep up with given the lack of incoming funds from the sale of new plots.

The situation of late has been dire. The once well-manicured grounds have begun to be reclaimed by nature. Not at all what the good people who founded the association back in 1902 had in mind.

But there is a new generation of aging Eastonites. Folks who want their ancestors’ graves to look respectable. Folks who want to be able to roam the grounds without fear of attracting a multitude of ticks or being surprised by a snake waiting for its next meal courtesy of a passing field mouse. Folks who are willing to roll up their sleeves, bring their own tools, and spend half of their Saturday or Sunday doing whatever it takes to make Union look good.

Spearheaded by Easton natives and cousins, Bob and Bruce Laskay, over the past month Union has seen well over a dozen volunteers show up ready and willing to pitch in. Some of us had never met before, while others have renewed old friendships.

With only a few hours of work – okay, both Bruce and Bob have put in a lot more than a “few” – we have been able to trim and mow the entire cemetery. At no cost to the town or the present cemetery association!

Today the Boy Scouts arrived to place flags on the graves of our veterans. My wife overheard one boy exclaim. “Wow, this guy fought in the Civil War!!” A new generation that will hopefully continue to honor those who came before, who now lie beneath the ground and are at the mercy of the living to not forget them.

Nature may indeed someday reclaim this cemetery, but for now, we can thank our homegrown volunteers for putting her off for a little while longer!

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By Bruce Nelson

Director of Research for the Historical Society of Easton Town Co-Historian for the Town of Redding, Connecticut Author/Publisher at Sport Hill Books