FARMINGTON — The town has been asked to return three Revolutionary War grave markers to the cemetery on Red Schoolhouse Road after they were removed by the town manager, who had given them to the Farmington Historical Society in an effort to preserve them.

The Daughters and Sons of the American Revolution, the organizations responsible for placing the grave markers on the graves of Revolutionary War veterans, sent an email to Farmington Town Manager Richard Davis on Monday, asserting that town officials overstepped their authority and violated a state statute in removing historical property that was not theirs to give away.

“I am ashamed that they think so little of our American history and the group that placed those markers that they would remove them from the cemetery and ‘give’ them to the Historical Society. They are not YOURS to give,” Kerry Zimmerman, a regent of the Mount Desert Isle Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution said in her email to Davis.

Zimmerman asserted that the town had violated a state statute that bars the removal of any memorial or markers from a gravesite.

“I suggest these be returned to the cemetery as soon as possible with an apology to the SAR. These markers are in every cemetery in the State of Maine, and while some are stolen, there are preferable alternatives to removing them,” Zimmerman said.

The idea of removing the grave markers was brought up at the Oct. 12 Selectboard meeting at which Selectman Michael Fogg said he had been hearing concern about the safety of the grave makers from the American Legion Roderick-Crosby Post, of which he is a member.

Legion members were concerned that the brass grave markers were a target of theft and were being damaged by the elements. The selectmen decided that removing them from the cemetery and presenting them to the historical society would be an appropriate way to honor those who served in the military. At the meeting, the selectmen were under the impression that the markers were town property, and they intended to replace them with a lighter, more durable alternative, Davis said.

“I want to make it clear that it wasn’t the intention to just simply remove (the markers). The intention was to replace them with some that were made of lighter material,” Davis said.

It is still unclear what organization owns the grave markers, though Zimmerman said they were bought and placed on the graves of Ephraim Butterfield, Elisha Adams and Jonas Green by members of the Sons of the American Revolution.

Davis returned the markers to the cemetery Monday morning and has apologized to Zimmerman for the removal. Davis said it was simply a matter of confusion surrounding good intentions of the town and the Legion.

“This was a well-intentioned, if misguided attempt at preserving these markers,” Davis said.

Lauren Abbate — 861-9252

[email protected]

Twitter: @Lauren_M_Abbate


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