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People Inc. Staff Help to Restore Gowanda Cemetery

Jun 30, 2011

WHAT: People Inc. leads team to restore Gowanda Cemetery/Wheater Road Cemetery
WHEN: Wednesday, June 29, 2011; 10 a.m.-2p.m.
WHERE: Gowanda Cemetery/Wheater Road Cemetery. Near Route 62 in Collins, NY.

In its third year of work at the Wheater Road Cemetery, People Inc. is working with the Collins Correctional Facility and the Cattaraugus County Department of Mental Health. To date, teams of People Inc. staff and volunteers have unearthed and cleaned about 485 gravestones which have sunken over time. The team will work diligently today to clean the remaining stones and straighten the cast iron grave markers in front of the cemetery. A memorial garden is being planned for a future date.

In an isolated field near Route 62 in Collins, NY, the graves of 550 former patients of the Gowanda Psychiatric Center are typically marked by number, not by name. Unidentified and un-mourned, the individuals there were patients from the 1950s to 1991, and a project led by People Inc. is helping to restore some dignity and honor to their lives. The Wheater Road Cemetery is the final resting place of approximately 1,200 people who resided in what was known as Gowanda State Hospital and later the J. N. Adam Developmental Center, which opened in 1898 to provide residential care for the "insane and idiotic." The restoration endeavor is also an active example of the strides that have been made in the treatment of people with disabilities and in acknowledging their history.

People Inc. is a not-for-profit health and human services agency providing programs and services to more than 10,000 people with special needs, their families, and seniors throughout Western New York. Since 1971, People Inc. has assisted individuals to achieve greater degrees of independence and productivity. 

Directions to Wheater Road Cemetery
1. Take the 90 West toward Erie, Exit at 57 A (Eden Evans Center Road)
2. Turn left on to Eden Evans Center Road
3. Proceed into the village of Eden
4. Turn right onto Route 62
5. Proceed on route 62 through North Collins and into Collins
6. Across from the Collins correctional facility, you will see a barn on the corner at the left - turn left, this is Wheater Road
7. Just past the farm land on left, there will be a tire track drive - park in grassy area there
8. Walk down the hill and look for folks working toward the front of cemetery