Cemetery Restoration Project Continues
As part of our cemetery restoration project, Museum of disABILITY History staff, along with program participants and employees of People Inc., recently volunteered their time to clean and care for the grounds at the Niagara County Almshouse Cemetery in Lockport. We appreciated their help to honor those who did not have any permanent acknowledgement.
Three years ago, a Ceremony of Remembrance was held to mark the restoration of the neglected cemetery and honor the lives of the more than 1,400 Niagara County Almshouse residents who died and were buried there, most with unmarked graves.
In 2006, People Inc. and the Museum of disABILITY History aligned with the nationwide Operation Dignity movement to restore institutional cemeteries. The Niagara County Almshouse is the fourth cemetery that has been restored. Other projects include Craig Colony Crematory in Sonyea, Gowanda Psychiatric Center Memorial Cemetery, Jolls Cemetery in Perrysburg and Wheater Road Cemetery in Collins. Approximately 5,000 graves have been touched by the work.
As news of the restoration project has spread, families have come forth to identify their ancestors. Through this effort, people like Chris McDonough, a Texas resident with ties to Western New York, have been able to take glimpses into their family history.
“You have given us our grandfather,” said McDonough. “We never met him, as the family kept his life a secret to all of us children. Thank you so much for giving us a small part of his life. Growing up, we were told he had passed away in the 40s. Modern technology and your help has changed that narrative.”
Since the project’s inception, at least 50 people have contacted our Museum and discovered more about their family members. For information or to volunteer, contact Dave Mack-Hardiman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 716.629.3606.