While there are no specifically dated records for any activity by the corporation after 1916 until 1939, the above correspondence of July 13, 1939 from Roscoe M. Dexter, Attorney and Secretary pro tem for the corporation, to the Slater Branch of the Industrial Trust Company in Pawtucket, RI indicates the incorporators of the Cumberland Cemetery met on June 29, 1939 and elected my grandfather, Everett S. Carpenter, to be one of the Trustees of the Cemetery. My grandfather was also at that time elected to be the Secretary and Treasurer of the corporation.
Although there is no precisely dated record of business being transacted by Cumberland Cemetery corporation or the Board of Trustees for more than two decades, there were events transpiring that affected the Cemetery.
In 1938, Dr. George J. Howe of Central Falls died. His wife, the former Isabel Dana -- daughter of Samuel Payton Dana (1833 - 1907) and Mary Hinkley Miller (1834 - 1916) -- predeceased him in 1931. In the First Codicil to his Will, dated December 31, 1931, Dr. Howe substituted Cumberland Cemetery in place of the Town of Cumberland for a legacy of $500 to be held in trust for "the perpetual maintenance and care of the burial lot standing in my name and of the lot standing in the name of Samuel P. Dana adjoining, in the Cumberland Cemetery, situated at what is known as 'Robin Hollow' in said Town of Cumberland." Both George Howe and Isabel Dana Howe are buried in the Cumberland Cemetery.
Also, on September 10, 1938, Susie N. Smith of Pawtucket, RI died. Susie was born Susan Dana in 1856 and most likely in Cumberland, Rhode Island where she lived with her parents, Samuel P. Dana and Mary Hinkley [Miller] Dana at the time of the 1860 and 1870 federal Cumberland censuses. In addition to three younger siblings, Susie's older sister by two years was Ruth Ann Dana. In her will, dated June 24, 1935 and probated October 5, 1938, Susie [Dana] Smith left a legacy of $1,500 to Cumberland Cemetery Corporation "for the care and upkeep of the Samuel Dana lot, so-called, and of the adjoining Howe lot, so-called, and to use, in its discretion, any balance thereof for the general care and upkeep of the whole cemetery." As can be seen from the documents provided below, the ultimate amount of the legacy bequeathed to the Cumberland Cemetery amounted to $1,173.28 after paying any debts of the deceased, specific legacies, expenses of settling the estate, and any applicable taxes.
As shown via documents presented in Part II of this series, almost on the eve of the outbreak of World War I, the Cumberland Cemetery Corporation had a balance in its operating funds of $1,341.30. While we have no definitely dated document indicating the corporation's funds status over the next two-plus decades, toward the end of the Great Depression when records resume in 1939 we see the arrival of two legacy bequests between early July and early December 1939 totaling $1,673.28. BUT, by May 1, 1940, we see that the Cemetery Corporation is inquiring of attorney Roscoe Dexter whether the principal of the bequests can be used to maintain and care for the cemetery "as may be deemed necessary." And this is where the following undated document might reveal something about the financial state of the corporation and the demands placed on it by the conditions at the cemetery.
A transcription of the above Notice, apparently drafted by my grandfather as Secretary of the corporation -- and therefore dated sometime after his election to the position on June 29, 1939 -- follows.
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N OT I C E
THIS CEMETERY IS OWNED BY "CUMBERLAND CEMETERY", A CORPORATION CHARTERED IN 1870. ALL LOT OWNERS, OR OTHERWISE INTERESTED PARTIES ARE ELIGIBLE TO MEMBERSHIP IN THIS CORPORATION.
ANNUAL MEETINGS ARE HELD IN APRIL.
BURIAL LOTS WERE SOLD WITHOUT ANY PROVISION FOR PERPETUAL CARE
AND THEIR UPKEEP IS A DUTY OF THE HEIRS OF THE ORIGINAL OWNERS.
THIS PLACE CAN BE GREATLY IMPROVED IN APPEARANCE IF ENOUGH PEOPLE WILL CONTRIBUTE A LITTLE TIME, ENERGY, EVEN A LITTLE MONEY, TOWARD A COMMUNITY PROJECT OF BETTERMENT. THERE IS NO OTHER WAY.
IF YOU READ THIS NOTICE, YOU HAVE AN INTEREST IN THIS CEMETERY AND SHOULD JOIN THE CORPORATION.
Everett S. Carpenter, SEC.
551 High St., Lonsdale, R.I.
Hugh S. Ward
James A. Broadbent
Mrs. Ruth Lacuna
Mrs. Alice (Tucker)
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Based on the document immediately above, it seems reasonable to conclude that by the early 1940s the Cemetery corporation was being overwhelmed by the financial demands for the care and maintenance of the cemetery property and the graves themselves. A legal opinion about the ability to invade the principal of the Susie N. Smith bequest had been sought and a draft Notice prepared to try to drum up financial and labor support for the cemetery.
On April 22, 194,1 a meeting of the Cumberland Cemetery Corporation was apparently held at the home of my grandparents -- 551 High Street in Lonsdale. As the document below demonstrates, Roscoe Dexter, the corporation attorney (?), sent his proxy to my grandfather. We have no idea why Mr. Dexter was unable to attend or what the nature of his proxy was, but it does not stretch the imagination to believe that the meeting might have been to discuss sending out the draft Notice, or to discuss the financial straits in which the corporation found itself.
As we will see in Part V of this series, the 1940s and early 1950s seemingly marked the end of an active Cumberland Cemetery Corporation and the records and documents I have inherited come to a close in 1956.
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All images are scanned from original documents in the collection of the author.
 Mary Hinkley Miller was the daughter of Aurin Miller (1800 - 1859) and his wife, Ruth Ann Hunt (1801 - 1874). Ruth was the daughter of Maj. Daniel Hunt (1769 - 1843) and his wife, Susannah Northup (1773 - 1845) and the sister of my 3X great-grandmother, Abby Hunt Miller (1807 - 1893) who married Eber Miller brother of Mary Hinkley Miller's father, Aurin Miller. Thus, Mary Hinkley Miller Dana is my 1st cousin 4X removed and I am related to her through both my Miller and Hunt ancestors.
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Copyright 2016, John D. Tew
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