NH Old Graveyard President's Message 2021
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I was first introduced to NHOGA about 5 years ago as part of my “job description” as Superintendent of Cemeteries (Brentwood NH) is “... be a member in good standing and attend the NHOGA meetings.” (My Cemetery Trustees have such great forethought!) Little did I know that 5 years after that introduction, I would be asked to be the President of NHOGA. (Ok, honestly, I was a little bit surprised but more than honored to accept the nomination.) Having worked with stone as a landscaper, it was second nature to work with stone as a “cemeterian.” I am definitely on board with the NHOGA’s statement of “Who We Are: a non-profit organization composed of genealogists, historians, cemetery officials and other interested individuals dedicated to preserving the historical graveyards of New Hampshire.” Count me in as a cemetery official and interested individual.

While we had to take time off over the last year or so from meeting as an organization live and in-person, it was exciting to note that work throughout the state continued. Folks across the state continued to ask for workshops on stone cleaning and/or straightening. NHOGA Board members took “field trips” to meet folks in person to discuss old graveyard concerns. Emails were received asking for help not only with research, but also inquiring about preservation and old graveyard information in general. (ie,” Tell me more about those RSA’s, but in English, please.”)

What better way for us to come together again as a group than with a trip to Marlow where, after a short business meeting, (yeah, I need to polish up on those skills) we were treated to 3 wonderful presentations and a trip to the Village Cemetery. (See more about the meeting elsewhere in this newsletter - thank you to our hosts in Marlow..)

Our presence on Facebook (New Hampshire Old Graveyard Association Group) continues to grow and serves as a great way for participants to share their “graveyard field trips” as well as showcasing preservation and cleaning projects. (Who doesn’t love the before and after pictures?)

Moving forward, I see our biggest challenge is to encourage those who are participating on the Facebook page to become “actual” members of NHOGA. ( How many other historical groups do you know that have annual membership dues of only $10 and provide free hands-on workshops on graveyard preservation, publish two newsletters annually, and offer a grant program that provides financial assistance for preservation work?) The other part of the challenge is encouraging younger generations to join our efforts. I know personally that when I do a stone cleaning workshop in Brentwood, I have participants of all ages. Hopefully as we continue to offer stone cleaning workshops, we can spark interest among all age groups.

All this said, I am here for you, the members of NHOGA. I can talk about cemeteries all day and am happy to answer questions, field comments and take suggestions. My question to the membership is, “What can I do to help you? How can I/we facilitate the NHOGA and keep the organization moving forward?” (Perfect time to give a shout out to the NHOGA Board….you guys rock! Thank you for all you do!)

Joyce Keegal
President, NH Old Graveyard Association

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