Maine

The Mystery of the Forgotten Cemetery

“Did you know there’s a graveyard on County Woods Road?” My father asked me.

I’d driven by it literally thousands of times and I’d never seen it. Never noticed it was there. A cemetery nestled in the woods between two houses on a country road in Newport.

We couldn’t see it from the road. All we could see was the tiny hand-painted sign nailed high-up on a tree. The ravages of Maine weather had worn away some of the letters, reminding us of the sign next to piglet’s house in the Winnie the Pooh stories. But instead of “Trespassers W” (which is short for Trespassers William) it says Folsom Cemetery.

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We climbed through the ditch and over a fallen tree, curious what we would find.

What we found was nothing. Under the shadow of the pines and birches there were no gravestones. The clearing was ornamented by a pile of rocks, so typical of the Maine woods, but no monuments.

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Further in, the wood thickens, the deadfall grows more forbidding. It seems unlikely that there’s anything to see. We kick at the ground, looking for flat stones covered over by fallen leaves. We find only mushrooms.

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Well, mushrooms and deadfall and random chunks of granite, clearly shaped by human hands but bare of any text that might set them apart as grave markers.

Then, just when we are ready to give up, a surprise. A single stone, canting backward. It says “In memory of Sally, wife of John Folsom, died July ,7 1840 aged 54 years and 26 days.”

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No maiden name, a birth date left to calculation. (It’s June 11, 1786 by my count.) No children, husband or parents buried near.

Just Sally, all alone in the woods.

Except nearby, another mystery. About eight feet away we found a circular medallion on a post. The star motif and U.S. engraving usually mark the graves of veterans. And near it, a small flag with a broken staff lies forgotten on the ground.

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Is there another grave here, unmarked? If so, whose is it?

There are no answers here. Stepping over barbed wire long-ago left to rust, we plunge back into the world where time keeps draggin’ on. We leave Sally alone in Folsom Cemetery – alone, but no longer forgotten.

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