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People Inc. Initiates Cemetery Restoration at the Niagara County Almshouse Cemetery

June 7, 2012: Staff and volunteers from People Inc., Western New York’s largest human services agency, will soon be hard at work restoring the Niagara County Almshouse Cemetery on Niagara Street Extension in Lockport. James M. Boles, Ed.D., president of People Inc., received permission from county officials to begin this project. This is the fourth institutional cemetery in which this agency has been involved.

Dr. Boles will conduct a presentation about the history of the project to a Buffalo State College Anthropology class on Monday, June 11, at 8:30 a.m. at the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office, Juron Conference Room, 5526 Niagara Street in Lockport.

The cemetery recorded burials from 1830-1912 and estimates that more than 1,400 people who resided at the Niagara County Almshouse are buried there most with anonymous graves. The burial grounds, above the former location of the Almshouse or Poorhouse, are quite overgrown with vines and bushes. Professors and students from the Buffalo State College Anthropology Department will use ground penetrating radar to determine the exact location of the cemetery. Anthropology Department Chairperson and Associate Professor Lisa M. Anselmi will have her students conduct the work as a summer project. The ground penetrating radar machine will help locate remains and determine boundaries of the cemetery.

Records will be transcribed from the Niagara County Historian’s Office and the Museum of disABILITY History, a project of People Inc., to create a searchable database. People Inc. will install a monument and hold a Ceremony of Remembrance at the conclusion of the project.

Research has shown that the individuals of the Niagara County Almshouse were considered “sick, insane and crippled.” It is one of the first institutions of care that were provide to people with disabilities, said Boles. The restoration endeavor is an example of the strides that have been made in the treatment of people with disabilities and to acknowledge their history.

“We have completed cemetery restoration projects in two Gowanda cemeteries and installed a monument in Perrysburg,” said Boles.

People Inc. would like to acknowledge the community members that have been instrumental to help initiate this cemetery restoration project: Niagara County Sheriff’s Office; Craig E. Bacon, Deputy Niagara County Historian; Robin DeVoe, Niagara County Building and Grounds Commissioner; Melissa Dunlap, Niagara County Historical Society; Catherine Emerson, Niagara County Historian; Undersheriff Michael Filicetti; Wayne Jagow, Niagara County Clerk; George Maziarz, New York State Senator; William L. Ross, Chairman Niagara County Legislature; and Sheriff James Voutour.

The Niagara County Division of Buildings and Grounds, the Aktion Club and many other volunteers will be assisting with the project. For more information or to volunteer, contact Dave Mack-Hardiman, director of Training, at dmack@people-inc.org or 716-629-3606.

 

1219 North Forest Road | P.O. Box 9033 | Williamsville, New York 14231
Phone: 716.817.7400 | Toll Free NY 1.888.7PEOPLE | Fax: 716.634.3889

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