Glenwood Cemetery: A Fountain Returns

Despite my having lived in Lebanon NH for the past 20 years, Glenwood Cemetery remained a mystery to me. Earlier this week, a Valley News article about its new fountain, and my desire to escape an empty morning, took me there for the first time.

According to time-worn local history, the good citizens of Lebanon fussed a bit and changed their collective mind about where to locate a cemetery. After a wrong choice or two, “ . . . the committee purchased of J. C. Sturtevant the tract now known as Glenwood Cemetery.” Thus ended the “long difference of opinion . . . though not to the satisfaction of everybody.” [But of course!] There was, however, a gentle happy ending to the story, or so the writers of Lebanon’s history have maintained:

“But as time passes away the wisdom of the location becomes apparent. It is secluded, yet within a few minutes’ walk from the village. It has a varied surface, affording advantages for great beauty of form. Constant improvement is now annually made, making it an attractive place for the final rest.” (source below)

Glenwood Cemetery remains a beauty: level walking paths, mature trees with glimpses of sky between them, the graceful fountain, and on this particular morning, an industrious team of city workers weed-whacking around the headstones. At one point it was actually two cemeteries: Mount Calvary for Catholics, and Glenwood for other Christian denominations. While they have blended together, you can still tell into which corner you’ve wandered—a gravestone sculpture of praying hands holds rosary beads; French names like Beaulieu, Godin, and Painchaud appear. The cemetery is home to the remains of Civil War veterans and the graves of then-prominent Lebanon people whose names are still on the lips of modern Upper Valley residents.

Replacing a dilapidated fountain with a new one has been a labor of love over several years by many local people who want the title, “Lebanon, City of Fountains,” to have real meaning. Plaques at the base of the fountain note the special contributions of Kiel and Priscilla Gosselin, with additional acknowledgements of The Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation, Ferguson Waterworks/Paul C. Putnam, Dan LeBrun, and Carroll Concrete. The Valley News article also includes Lindamae Peck.

After a few circumlocutions, my knees begged for a reprieve, and I headed back to my car. In exiting the cemetery, I found what might have served as a balm for aching joints—a beautiful bench at the graveside of Toby and Millie Wakana, which reads “All are welcome to sit, relax and take comfort.” During a future visit, I plan to take them up on the invitation.

(All photos by Susan B. Apel. Research assistance by Keith Irwin. Quotes are from “History of Lebanon 1761-1887” by Charles A. Downs (Rumford Printing Co., 1908). With gratitude to Janet Moore for her generosity in the use of the photo of her parent’s graveside bench.)

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