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May 28, 2010

 

Marathon Cemetery marks 150 years

Association hosting Open House on Memorial Day, offering tours of 15-acre property

GraveJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Marathon Cemetery Association President Milton Parker points out some of the unique military markers on one of the older grave sites at the cemetery, which was established in 1860.

By JAMAR THRASHER
Staff Reporter

MARATHON — The Marathon Cemetery Association is celebrating 150 years of operation and is hosting an open house for the public on Memorial Day at the Marathon Cemetery. The event will begin at noon.
The event will include a hot dog roast, a raffle and a tour of the 15 acres of cemetery grounds. The cemetery association will also be collecting donations,
Thursday afternoon, Milton Parker, president of the cemetery association, walked through the cemetery, which includes mausoleums, a chapel, gravestones and religious statues.
Some gravesites have a striking display, such as the gravesite for one of the first settlers of Marathon: Dr. Japheth Hunt, a surgeon during the Revolutionary War who died in 1808.
The Hunt family grave, shared with the Havens — assumed to be relatives — is elaborately decorated and includes about 10 graves formed in a square, with a monument in the middle of the plot. There are also a small set of stone stairs the family had installed in the grass near the plot.
The Marathon Cemetery formed in 1860 after a meeting on Jan. 7 that year which created the cemetery association to which six trustees were elected. On March 31 the association agreed to purchase 8 acres from William Bradford for $800.
In 1861, the price of a grave was 5 cents per square foot; today it is $12.50 a square foot.
Beyond that one-time fee, the cemetery also receives state funding. The state Division of Cemeteries and the New York State Cemetery Board regulate the Marathon Cemetery Association.
A perpetual care fund and the permanent maintenance fund exist to support cemeteries. The care fund consists of individual and varied amounts of contributions by lot owners for maintaining graves.
The maintenance fund is used for the entire cemetery and is funded with a portion of current lot sale receipts and $35 from every interment, according to the Division of Cemeteries website.
About 5,500 people are buried at the cemetery, and about 30 burials are held each year. Of those, about nine are cremations. About 13 acres of the 15 acres have been used, and Parker said they are running out of space.
Parker and members of his staff said they have purchased land plots where they will be buried.
“In my case, my kids won’t need to worry about it,” said Karen Knapp, the cemetery association secretary and treasurer. “And I’m where I want to be buried.”
Cemetery records were ruined in a fire at a cemetery secretary’s house in the 1800s. To guarantee accurate records, Knapp recorded data from every gravesite at the cemetery. She has the record for every grave at the cemetery, except for the graves of a few transient men who died in the early 1900s.
The new data, which includes a person’s name and date of death, has been useful, Knapp said.
Around 2004, the cemetery received an e-mail from Denmark asking about a distant relative possibly buried at the cemetery. Knapp did some research and realized the relative was buried in a cemetery in Lapeer. Knapp was able to connect them with their Danish relatives.
“This is a great place to work,” said cemetery Superintendent Alvin Hawley Jr.

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