Tonawanda News

October 6, 2013

Eagle project focuses on 'lost' cemetery|

The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Most people have never heard of, nor know where, Poole Cemetery is located.

However, Jacob Dawson, 15, of Pendleton, knew.

Dawson, a member of Boy Scout Troop 8 in Cambria, was searching for a project for his Eagle Scout award.

He knew of the small cemetery on Beach Ridge Road in Pendleton, near to his house, that had some of the headstones broken off their bases.

Dawson decided fixing up the cemetery would be his Eagle project.

“I wanted to put up a plastic sign with the name of the cemetery, the people buried there, and some of the history of the cemetery,” Dawson explained. “I also wanted to plant two trees on either side of the sign along with daffodils around the sign,” he added.

As he began his project, he found it would also have to include raising the headstones that were buried by grass and take the stones that were in a pile in the cemetery and place them in a raised bed with a wooden frame.

When he spoke to Martin Gilbert, president of the Pendleton Historical Society, he learned that years ago, a local farmer went to the cemetery and took some of the headstones to use as sidewalk stones. When the farmer’s wife discovered what he had done, she made him take the headstones back. Instead of putting the stones back in their proper places, the farmer threw the stones into a pile.

For years the pile of stones remained toward the back and center of the cemetery.

“It is hard to know exactly what stones were moved and what ones were near their original location, since all the stones in the cemetery were in random patterns and seemed to be tossed randomly about,” Dawson explained.

In digging up the headstones, he discovered that some headstones were buried beneath other ones.

“He built a raised bed and filled it with colored pea stone to create a safe place for the stones and so they would be visible from the street, then trimmed and cleaned up the tree line at the back of the cemetery,” his mother, Holly Dawson, said.

Jacob Dawson received a great deal of support from his fellow troop members, his parents, Holly and Leo Dawson, and brother Zackery, also a member of Troop 8, friends and troop leaders including Todd Fisher, Joe Fournier, Scott Henry, Steve Wilsey and Howard Morgan.

The Niagara County Historian’s office provided a list of those buried in the cemetery and Gilbert provided a list of deceased to compare with the county’s list.

“Mr. Gilbert was also the source of the interesting history of the cemetery and guided me in deciding how to handle the headstones in the cemetery,” Jacob said. “He suggested having the stones in a raised bed.”

“Jeff Stowell, from the Pendleton Highway Department was a big help on the project,” Dawson said. “Mr. Stowell provided dirt on two occasions, the mulch for around the sign and trees, removed the brush that had been cut down, and sent equipment to the site to remove a boulder.”

Ed Dore donated the trees, “a wonderful contribution” and a donation from the Daughters of the American Revolution helped fund the project.

Jacob attended the cemetery’s re-dedication ceremony Saturday, along with his scout leader, Todd Fisher; Jim Riester, supervisor of the Town of Pendleton; Barbara Diebold, regent, Niagara Falls Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution, and members of Boy Scout Troop 8.