Epping official: Remains at cemetery undisturbed
EPPING — The remains of bodies buried at an old family cemetery tucked away in the woods off of Dimond Hill Road have not been disturbed or removed, a cemetery official said.
After researching concerns about the condition of the Dow Cemetery, Jerry Langdon, chairman of the town’s cemetery trustees, told selectmen last week that no bodies have been touched.Langdon began researching when concerns about the cemetery were raised by some residents and town officials after it appeared the cemetery had been dug up in spots.
The property owners, brothers Jerry and James Thayer, told selectmen last month they have been trying to clean up the debris from pine trees that fell during storms. An excavator was used to remove stumps.
Concerns about what appeared to be open gravesites were brought to the attention of selectmen and the state Attorney General’s Office.
Langdon told selectmen last month that he didn’t believe any of the grave sites had been disturbed, but he conducted further research over the past month to confirm his belief.
Langdon also researched whether headstones were removed after two stones were found sitting on the ground outside the Leddy Cemetery and crypt several miles away.
“Monuments haven’t been removed at least in the last 25 years. It had nothing to do with the Thayers owning that property,” Langdon said last week.
Langdon consulted with local historians and learned that the two stones found at the Leddy Cemetery belonging to John and Harriet Dow, who died in the 1800s, were there as far back as 1992.
But it’s unclear where those stones belong and how they ended up at the Leddy Cemetery. The Thayers have said they believe the Dows are buried in the cemetery along Dimond Hill Road, but Langdon said last week that the town has no documentation of who is buried there.
Langdon said the Thayers could seek guidance from the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources to determine where the headstones belong and how they should be brought back to the Dow Cemetery if that’s where John and Harriet Dow are, in fact, buried.
In the meantime, Langdon said that under state law the Thayers must still submit a letter to the board of selectmen asking permission to maintain the cemetery on their property. They have agreed not to continue their cleanup work until they’ve been given formal permission.