HARWICH – The cemetery commission is seeking funds to establish Revolutionary War and Civil War memorials in Evergreen Cemetery in East Harwich. The commission would like to have the memorials in place for the 250th anniversary of the start of the Revolutionary War in 2025.
The commission has filed an application with the community preservation committee for $256,282 in Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds to have the memorials designed, built, delivered and installed in the Veterans Memorial Circle and Walk of Remembrance in the cemetery. The project is part of the cemetery commission’s master plan.
“It is critical to both the history of our great nation and more specifically the history of the town of Harwich that we acknowledge and preserve the sacrifices made by our veterans and their families,” said Cemetery Administrator Robbin Kelley. “The Harwich Veterans Memorial will allow future generations to connect with our heroic past to honor the men and women of Harwich who served our great country.”
The granite memorials would have the names of men and women from Harwich who served in the wars engraved on them. Kelley told the community preservation committee (CPC) recently that there are 284 people associated with the Revolutionary War and 146 with the Civil War.
Brewster was part of Harwich during the Revolutionary War, so those who served and are interred in Brewster have to be included on the memorial, Kelley said. Brewster was the northern parish of Harwich during the Revolutionary War and incorporated as a town in 1803.
It was much easier to identify the 146 Harwich residents who served in the Civil War because they are printed in a book, Kelley said. The names and communities from which soldiers served during the Revolutionary War were all hand-written and much harder to vet, she added. It was difficult to differentiate between Hardwick and Harwich, and the spelling of names was also difficult; Cahoon was spelled four different ways, Kelley said.
“It took three years of vetting to go through all these names,” she said. “We’re now making sure we’re not leaving anybody out.”
Veterans organizations support the effort and there seems to be a lot of people who want to donate to the project, Kelley said. She was scheduled Tuesday night to go before the selectmen seeking authorization to set up a gift account for the Veterans Memorial fund. If it is approved, she will begin reaching out to veterans organizations for assistance this week.
The project has the support of Captain Joshua Gray-Jonathan Hatch Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, according to Regent Tara Baker.
“Our chapter is supporting this project because it uniquely meets all three goals of DAR’s mission statement,” she wrote in a letter of support. “The project will commemorate and memorialize the names of individuals who fought for American independence and freedom for all. It will forever preserve and make available to the public historical records and names of historic American importance. It will serve to educate the citizens of Harwich and beyond about the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, everyday citizens who became heroes for the cause. We believe in it, and we believe without projects like this, history will be lost.”
Shawney Carroll, assistant director of veterans services for the Barnstable District, also endorsed the project.
“I fully support her [Kelley’s] continued efforts in representing the town of Harwich veterans who have served this country valiantly with a Revolutionary War Memorial/Civil War Memorial,” she wrote.
Whether there will be enough CPA funds available for the historic preservation projects that have been requested remains unknown. The committee does not yet have the precise amount of funding that will be available for projects this year. That number is anticipated in early February, and the committee has set Feb. 9 as the date for deliberating on project requests.
Ten percent of CPA funds must be spent in each of four categories: historic preservation, affordable housing, open space, and recreation. The remaining money can be spread among the categories.
Committee members have indicated strong support for use of $690,000 in historic preservation funds for window restoration and exterior preservation of Brooks Academy. The historic district and historical commission has also recommended Brooks Academy preservation as the preferred use of historic preservation funds. Given that status, Kelley went before the CPC last week to withdraw a second application seeking $94,600 in historic preservation funds for a rail replacement project at the historic North Harwich Cemetery.
CPC member Robert Doane called the war memorials the second most important historical preservation request. While agreeing the 250th anniversary of the beginning of the war of independence is important and it would be great to have the memorials in place for the celebration, he said there are a few years to go before that date.
The sentiment of committee members was that the war memorials project could be put off for a year, which would allow more time for a fund-raising campaign, helping to reduce the need for CPA funds. CPC Chairman David Nixon recommended that Kelley reach out to the Brewster Community Preservation Committee for a contribution, given that the Revolutionary War memorial would recognize those who served and are buried in Brewster.
Kelley said she has sent the Brewster CPC an email but has not yet received a response. The deadline for filing applications for CPA funds in Brewster was in July; she said she would seek funding in the next round. A few Brewster residents who wish to contribute to the war memorial project have contacted her, she added.
Kelley informed the committee last week that time is of the essence, with the 250th anniversary just two years away. It will take time to get the ball rolling, given the procurement time, and for the proofing of names. It will then take at least six months to have custom monuments of this size built. It could take 11 months altogether, she said.
“The cemetery commissioners are focused on honoring the military of this town. We’ve been working a long time on this and it’s very important to get it funded at this time,” Kelley said.