The Vale Cemetery Association is in search of the owners of about 80 plots in the historic, 100-acre burial ground.
On those plots are monuments that have become dilapidated to the point of being dangerous, and they need to be repaired.
Established in 1857, the cemetery is home to gravestones that over the years have suffered damage at the hands of both Mother Nature and vandals.
The Vale Cemetery Association is in search of those who own the burial plots of:
Wiliam Clark Jr.
Unknown next to Luffmon
Unknown next to Mamie
Unknown next to Noah Harrison
Ida Mae Peters
Unknown next to Proper
Unknown next to Sayre
Wm. J. Swits
Unknown next to VanEpps
For more information, contact Bernard McEvoy at 346-0423.
In an attempt to contact the owners of those in the worst shape, the association recently posted a legal notice in The Daily Gazette. According to the notice, if the owners fail to repair or remove the monuments or markers within 60 days, the Vale Cemetery Association may take on the job.
Monuments that have suffered the effects of the elements or vandalism can be repaired with grant funds available to nonprofit cemeteries through the state Department of State’s Division of Cemeteries.
Vale, which is home to approximately 33,000 monuments, has been granted more than $100,000 from the state for repairs in the past eight years or so, with each dilapidated monument costing an average of $200 to repair, estimated Bernard McEvoy, vice president of the cemetery’s board of trustees.
Many of the damaged monuments have not been vandalized, he was quick to point out. Years spent out in the elements take their toll, and over time, gravestones can become dangerous.
“Many of them don’t have steel pins in. If you just rock it, the damned thing will roll over,” he said.
Rarely do families contact the cemetery when the damaged grave markers they own are listed in the newspaper.
“The reason we don’t find owners is that the monument may have been from 1902 or something. Who in the family knows?” McEvoy mused.
Occasionally, a family member will get in touch, but often, families think the monuments are the cemetery’s property.
“The family owns it. It’s your property. It passes down through the generations,” McEvoy said.
One family that discovered they owned a dilapidated monument at Vale was able to get their homeowner’s insurance to cover the cost of repairs, he noted.
If the owners of the damaged monuments don’t come forward after three attempts to contact them, the Vale Cemetery Association applies for grant money to perform the repairs, and the job goes out to competitive bid.
“It’s often gone to an outfit from Gloversville, and they bring the truck with the crane on it. The guys really know what to do, and they’ll put like 20 of them up in a day,” McEvoy said.
The crew rights toppled stones, glues them in place and repairs any cracks.
Once the work is done, the stones are photographed and the work is inspected by the state Cemetery Board, said McEvoy’s wife, Barbara, who volunteers in the office at Vale.
Grant funds come from a $5 fee paid every time someone is buried or cremated, she noted.
Since 2007, when security cameras were first installed in the cemetery, damage to monuments has more often been caused by the elements than by vandals, Bernard McEvoy said.
“We’ve got just about everything under surveillance,” he said, noting there are now nine cameras at Vale.
In addition, a $500 reward is offered for any tip that leads to a vandalism arrest.