For the benefit of future generations, our mission is to preserve the graveyard using various restoration techniques and to protect the graveyard from further vandalism.
For many years I have researched our family history. The research brought me to Taunton, Massachusetts in 1988. At the Old Colony Historical Society I found information on ancestors who had lived in Taunton and where they were buried. With a copy of the Daughters of the American Revolution compilation of the "Eleven Cemeteries in Taunton", I visited the cemeteries of our ancestors. The Walker-Blake Graveyard is located in a remote area. The cemetery is situated on a rise that overlooks the Taunton River. A stone wall creates a border on all its four sides. The original entrance appears to have been on the south side. The oldest legible gravestone in Taunton is that of Elizabeth (Phillips) Walker, my Grandmother of eleven generations ago - she died August 14, 1678. Her husband James, who died February 15, 1691, is also buried here. I have other ancestors buried in this cemetery. They include Ann (Hanover) Blake who died Nov. 21, 1790 in her 93rd year and her husband Edward Blake who died July 25, 1759 in his 70th year, Bathsheba (Brooks) Walker who died February 24, 1738 and James Walker her husband, and Mary Walker who died February 24, 1738 and James Walker her husband, who died May 19, 1750. These are the great grandmothers and grandfathers only. There are many other people, Walkers and Blakes and people who married into those families, with whom we are related. Of course, I am only one descendant. Today, there are thousands of descendants from these colonists.
From my first visit I could see the graveyard was in disrepair and neglect. Over the years on other trips to Massachusetts, I revisited the graveyard and showed the graveyard to our children. On these visits I could see some additional vandalism and desecration. Some of the problems were caused by natural events but most were the result of vandalism. A hurricane had toppled over about 11 trees. Fortunately, no gravestones appeared to be hit or damaged. The graveyard had not been taken care of for so long that trees had grown through, enclosed, and destroyed a number of gravestones. Vandals had toppled over many gravestones and had smashed many gravestones with boulders. There were shot gun shells on the ground and ruts from dirt bikes going through the sacred grounds. There was no practical way for the police to patrol the area.
Shortly after that trip I decided something needed to be done to preserve and protect the graveyard. After talking with Taunton officials, I found out that the city did not own the graveyard and the city had no funds to take care of it. The graveyard had been privately owned but the deed was lost in history. At the same time I was making inquiries about who owned the graveyard, a Taunton attorney was making the same inquiries on behalf of a Connecticut attorney. On January 10, 1995, the city official told the Taunton attorney that I was asking questions about who owned the graveyard and soon the Taunton attorney and I were sharing notes. I explained that something needed to be done to preserve and protect the graveyard. The Taunton attorney said he would inform the trustee of a fund for the care and protection of the burial ground that I was interested in getting work done for the benefit of the graveyard.
This was the beginning of Walker-Blake Graveyard Restoration Project, Inc. After many discussions, the trustee provided a road map that could lead to be approval of a grant of money for the benefit of the graveyard. I made a detailed proposal of repairs and needed improvements. The next step was getting dollar estimates on the costs for the work to be done. After the scope of work was determined, we had to become a non-profit corporation in the State of Massachusetts. This effort was assisted by another lawyer in Taunton. The selection of the firm to perform the restoration work on the gravestones required contacting various government agencies and the Association for Gravestone Studies. I selected Fannin-Lehner Preservation Consultants to make the assessments and restorations of the gravestones. The last step prior to receiving a grant was probably the hardest and that was receiving Non-profit tax exemption 501(3) status from the IRS.