Woodland Cemetery turns 100

A friend of mine took a walk the other day. Things being as they are with the COVID-19 virus, a walk in the great Maine outdoors is probably a healthy thing to do. What was interesting to me was that he took his walk in the Woodland Cemetery.

He called to tell me about his adventure, knowing of my connection with the Woodland Cemetery Association.

“Did you know that the association is 100 years old this year?” he asked.

“Yes,” I replied. 

After all, my husband, Gerald, and his family have been involved with the cemetery since the article to authorize the formation of the Woodland Cemetery Association was passed at the town meeting in 1920.

My friend told me about his walk through much of the cemetery. While he is not a native of the town of Woodland, he seemed excited to tell me what he had seen.

“You can learn a lot about the history of a town just by walking through its cemetery,” he said. “You know that white building, with the sign saying ‘Woodland Cemetery’ on it? Do you realize there’s a small door at the base of the foundation that looks like it should belong in a bank?”

I explained that construction of the building was mandated in 1920 to serve as a “receiving tomb” or vault to store the deceased during the winter. It had space at ground level for office space and/or storage of equipment. A crawl space was located below to store the coffins.

That door was purchased from Mosler Safe Company for $380 plus shipping. It always seemed like that was an awful lot of door to allow vault access during the winter.

My friend has lived in Woodland for more than four decades, and is very familiar with names of many of the founding families, such as Olof Nylander. He said that he saw many of those names on gravestones that day.

he went on to tell me how he admired the strength and courage these people had to move away from familiar surroundings, to clear land, and to build homes and new lives in this new settlement. Before he hung up, he assured me that he would be taking more walks through our cemetery.

My husband’s father, Andrew Anderson, was at the forefront of developing and maintaining the Woodland Cemetery Association. 

Prior to 1920, townsfolk were buried in relatively unmaintained town cemeteries, family cemeteries or church-owned cemeteries. The association has assured those with family members interred in Woodland that they will hae a well-maintained, attractive place for their loved ones’ final rest.

Over the past 100 years, the Woodland Cemetery Association has done just that.

Larina Anderson lives in Woodland.

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