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Russ Piper at the Village of Lewiston cemetery next to First Presbyterian Church. (Submitted photo)
Russ Piper at the Village of Lewiston cemetery next to First Presbyterian Church. (Submitted photo)

Piper starts Potter's Field monument fund in Lewiston


Tue, Dec 14th 2021 10:10 am

Submitted by Russ Piper

Village of Lewiston Historian

Moving along now that the dedication of the Presbyterian Church and Cemetery have taken place, I am starting a new project. Apart from regular cleaning, I'm hoping to move forward to placing a permanent granite monument in the Potter's Field behind the old stone church.

The Potter's Field was started in the 1850s to bury the poor, residents, runaway slaves who didn't complete their journey to freedom in Canada, persons passing through the village, and lastly those who succumbed to the cholera and Spanish flu epidemics. Closed to burials in the 1920s, these unknown persons rest with no acknowledgement of their plight. They, too, whomever they may have been, are indeed a chapter in Lewiston's history. Their story needs to be known both now and for the future;

In conversations with Mayor Anne Welch; Tom Collister, curator of the Lewiston Historical Museum; and Eva Nicklas, artistic director of the Lewiston Arts Council, I have decided to start a fundraiser seeking donations to help me to erect a permanent, yet simple granite marker to acknowledge these unknown souls. Albeit my ultimate goal is to be able to acquire funding for the resetting and repair, including missing dates on the existing markers.

The Village Bicentennial is but less than a year away, but it is of importance to be able to showcase the oldest cemetery in the county in good light for those who stop to visit or pay respects to those at rest within its hallowed ground.

Bearing all of this in mind, I have arranged a Potter's Field monument fund with the village clerk's office. I hope to achieve a goal of $2,500-$3,000 to erect a permanent memorial to these souls as their part in Lewiston's rich and vast history. This amount includes the marker, lettering and placement in the Potter's Field section in the older part of the cemetery. Anyone wishing to help with this project can donate to the fund in person or by mail in c/o the Village Clerk's Office, 145 N. Fourth St., Lewiston.

As a seventh-generation member of the Piper family and current village historian, it is important to preserve Lewiston's history, and a labor of love for me to be a part of its historical preservation.

I wish to extend a heartfelt thank you in advance for any assistance in bringing this project to life.

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