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Conway eyes cemetery inventory project

CONWAY — The Historical Commission is looking for volunteers to help document the town’s history.

In May, the townspeople approved $4,900 in Community Preservation money to update by June 30, 2014 inventory records for the 2,500-plus burials and headstones in the Howland and Pine Grove cemeteries. The grant covers the transcribing and mapping of the first two of nine cemeteries in Conway.

The project is led by Peter Freisem of Old Cricket Hill Road, who volunteered last year to digitize earlier records for the two oldest cemeteries in town.

Volunteers would help with on-site proofreading of existing burial records, photographing and transcribing headstones for the first time.

Freisem began the project last October. Freisem started off with a list compiled in 1951 to 1952 by a Mrs. Max Lederer of Southampton. The 218-page list contains the information of people buried in Conway dating to the town’s incorporation in 1762.

Freisem’s work is the first update of the list in 60 years. Over the past 11 months, Freisem transcribed the data in the previous inventory, verified that information and is now adding new names.

The original inventory had about 1,200 names. Since he started, Freisem added about 650 names.

He envisions it will take two to three years to complete the project in all the nine cemeteries.

Freisem said the grant would go further if he had help from other volunteers.

“Volunteers would add value to the Community Preservation Act funding generously provided by town meeting,” said Sarah Williams, chairman of the Conway Historical Commission. “The Historical Commission is grateful for Peter Freisem’s previous volunteer work digitizing Conway’s existing cemetery records, which prompted this year’s inventory grant application.”

Williams added that the updated and expanded digital record would lay the groundwork for future preservation work on gravestones and burial grounds.

For more information or to volunteer, contact Freisem at 413-369-4651 or pfreisem@comcast.net.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at:
kmckiernan@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261 ext. 268.

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