A movement is forming to clean up the old Cherry Lane cemetery, on Cherry Street in the Six Corners neighborhood.
Linda Langevin, a Springfield resident, initially asked me for information on the cemetery. I had very little information -- only that the cemetery was listed on both the 1899 and 1910 city atlases, and that the city directories did not publish information about cemeteries.
Linda persevered and unearthed a great history of the site, originally published in the Springfield Republican, on November 9, 1932.
It seems the cemetery was an old Baptist Church burial ground, set aside in 1826. However, there is no information as to which church this plot originally belonged. There are no Baptist churches in that general area of the city. Linda said that
The article explains that this cemetery has a bit of a history of becoming decrepit. In 1848, a group of citizens attempted to beautify the grounds, making it "more ornamental". It went downhill from 1900 to 1917, at which point the George Washington Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution led a campaign to improve it. They cleaned it up from time to time, but this effort waned, and by 1923 it was again considered an abandoned burial ground.
In that year, another attempt was made to clean it up, this time by a Girl Scout chapter based at the Central Street School. However, it was noted, it quickly slipped back into abandonment.
In 1931, the Sons of the American Revolution chapter again urged action on this cemetery. The city took over the old burial ground, and undertook a substantial renovation of the property. A wrought iron gate was donated by the Mercy Warren Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and installed at the Cherry Street entrance, with a plaque listing dates of 1826 and 1932. Graves were rearranged, one was even rescued from the roots of an elm tree that had encircled it. A flagpole was donated by the Sons of the American Revolution chapter leading this effort.
I searched city ordinances, and turned up this nugget:
Commissioner Of Abandoned Or Neglected Burying Grounds
The commissioner of abandoned or neglected burying grounds shall be charged with the duty of keeping in good order the "Cherry Lane Cemetery," so-called, situated on Cherry Street in the city, and any and all other abandoned or neglected burying grounds within the limits of the city of which the city shall hereafter take charge under the authority of Section 18 of Chapter 111 of the General Laws or of any act in addition thereto or in amendment thereof. (Prior code §2-96)
Seems like the city is legally on the hook for this burial ground. I suspect it has been a while since the city has appointed a "Commissioner of Abandoned or Neglected Burying Grounds"...
The article mentions that there are several unfilled plots in the cemetery, and that the city could realize a profit by selling them. However, I'm not sure if anyone would want to be buried in what amounts to an abandoned burial ground.