Feature Story

Meach Island Cemetery

Burial Grounds of Vermont, the Vermont Old Cemetery Association's state-wide survey of Vermont's cemeteries published in 1991, reports Meach Island Cemetery in Shelburne as having its first burial in 1775, an unknown number of graves, and abandoned.

Courtney Doyle received her Bachelor's Degree in archaeology and history from SUNY Postdam in 2011, earned her Master's Degree in Historic Preservation from the University of Vermont and co-founded Burlington's Young Preservationists in 2013, and surveyed Meach Island Cemetery on September 30, 2014.

What follows are excerpts from a fascinating view of a remarkable cemetery...

Meach Island Cemetery: Sept. 30th, 2014 Visit
Site and Condition Report
Courtney Doyle

Site:
The Meach Island Cemetery is located on Meach Island, in Meach Cove of Shelburne, Vermont. The coordinates for the cemetery are: 44 21’ 37.2’’ N, 73 16’ 27.5’’ W.

Meach Island is privately owned by the Waite Farm Associates LLC, according to the Shelburne Assessor’s 2014 Grand List. The island is posted with two “No Trespassing” signs that are visible from the main land (290 Meach Island Road).

Access to the island is by two ways: by water or by a stone walkway (when water is not too high) from the main land at 290 Meach Island Road. The island is extremely steep on all sides, with the best route of access from the walkway from the main land.

The cemetery is located at the northern tip of the island. The island is covered with trees, such as cedars and oaks, and the cemetery is shaded and protected from the elements by the tree coverage.

Condition:
There were a total of ten features in and around the Meach Island Cemetery: nine within the fenced area and one upright stone fragment outside the fenced area. There is a possibility that there are other stone fragments underneath the dead leaves and other fallen debris from the surrounding trees.

1) Upright stone fragment outside of the fenced area of the cemetery. It appears to be the bottom left corner of a gravestone. The stone type unknown. Photo 1 depicts this feature. Poor condition.

2) Pile of pieces of broken gravestone (s?), the pile may contain fragments of two different stones. The stone type(s) are unknown. Photo 2 depicts this feature. Poor condition.

3) Small stone that probably was installed more recently and is not an original gravestone. The stone appears to be granite. The initials “E.M.” are carved into the stone. The stone is about one foot long. Photo 3 depicts this feature. Good condition.

4) Small stone that probably was installed more recently and is not an original gravestone. The stone appears to be granite. The initials “W.M.” are carved into the stone. The stone is about one foot long. Photo 4 depicts this feature. Good condition.
5) A fallen stone that has no writing on it, this suggests that the writing is face down. The stone is about 3 1/6 feet long and 1 11/12 feet wide. Photo 5 depicts this feature. Poor condition.

6) Small stone that probably was installed more recently and is not an original gravestone. The stone appears to be granite. The initials “J.M.” are carved into the stone. The stone is about one foot long. Photo 6 depicts this feature. Good condition.
7) Small stone that probably was installed more recently and is not an original gravestone. The stone appears to be granite. The initials “M.M.” are carved into the stone. The stone is about one foot long. Photo 7 depicts this feature. Good condition.

8) Small stone that probably was installed more recently and is not an original gravestone. The stone appears to be granite. The initials “J.A.W.” are carved into the stone. The stone is about one foot long. Photo 8 depicts this feature. Good condition.
9) Broken stone that consists of two pieces (No. 1 and No. 2). The gravestone pieces appear to be sandstone. The gravestone piece No. 2 was initially buried under dead leaf debris. No. 1 is 2 7/12 long and 2 1/6 wide. It reads, “Hon. Ezra Meech, died 30 May 1842, aged 28 years”. Photo 9a depicts this stone. No. 2 is 2 ½ long and 2 1/6 wide. It reads, “Jane Anne, wife of, Joseph Warner, and daughter of”. Photos 9b and 9c depict this stone. Photo 9d shows these two gravestone pieces in relation to feature 8. Poor condition.
10) Granite monument with inscriptions on all four sides. The monument is roughly 68 inches tall and the base is 3 feet wide on each side. The monument may have been installed more recently and is not original. Good condition. The inscriptions are as follows:
North Face: James, son of, Ezra and Mary, Meech, Died Feb 18, 1823, Aged 18 Years
East Face: William, Son of, Ezra and Mary Meech, Died August 3, 1822, Aged 7 Months
East Face: Ellen, Daughter of, Ezra and Mary, Meech, Died March 1(?) 1822, Aged 2 Yrs and 3 Mos
South Face: Jane Anne, Wife of, Joseph Warner, and Daughter of, Ezra and Mary, Meech, Died May 30, 1842, Aged 28 Years
West Face: Mary, Wife of, Ezra Meech, Died, Feb 14, 1826, Aged 45 Years

Documents:
Rough Map of Meach Island Cemetery
Complete Meach Island Cemetery Site and Condition Report
Complete Meach Island Cemetery Photographs

Copyright:
All documents, photographs and maps are copyright 2014 by Courtney Doyle, author.

Kudos:
The Vermont Old Cemetery Association commends Courtney on the professionalism, detail and perspective attained in this survey. You have raised the bar for all of us involved in cemetery preservation in Vermont.