EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


May 7, 2014

Bringing dignity to the dead

Haverhill Boy Scout cleans, unearths gravestones

Nicholas Dobrosielski wants people to be able to find the graves of loved ones buried at Hilldale Cemetery in Haverhill.

So as his Eagle Scout project, Dobrosielski, 17, of Bradford plans to first find hidden gravestones then create a computer data base. He also plans to build a map board and install it at the cemetery’s entrance so families can find the graves of their relatives.

He organized three cleanups of the cemetery this year because he can’t search for hidden gravestones until brush and leaves are removed. Plus, he wants the cemetery to look good.

Cemetery officials said they are excited about Dobrosielski’s project.

“The Hilldale records from the 1980s through the early 2000s were never updated,” said Thomas Spitalere, president of the Hilldale Cemetery Board of Directors “To find a specific grave, I’d have to walk the entire cemetery.”

Dobrosielski said he came up the idea last year when he was learning to drive and he and his father traveled past the cemetery.

“I could see from the road how bad things looked,” he said.

After speaking with Spitalere and taking a tour of the cemetery, he realized that many stones were toppled over the years and are covered with grass.

He received approval from the Boy Scouts to take on the project as his Eagle Scout project.

“I think it will be good for the cemetery and the community,’’ he said. “It will show people care about the cemetery.’’

Spitalere said there are more than 4,800 people buried at Hilldale Cemetery and that many of them are not listed in the records his group was given when they took control of the property several years ago.

“This will help us learn who is buried where so we can update all of the lot maps,” Spitalere said of Dobrosielski’s project. “We have been working on it, but it’s taken a lot of time and effort.”

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