Article from "The Call", Newspaper, Sunday Edition, Woonsocket, Rhode Island , October 22, 2000 

The CALL WOONSOCKET, R.I October 22, 2000


A matter of grave concern

by Daniel H. Trafford

Sunday editor of  "The Call."

It's hard to think of any crime lower than vandalizing grave stones.

The recent incident in Oak Hill Cemetery where 61 stones were toppled has been called the worst in decades.

But in the midst of that tragedy, it's nice to look at the work of Roger Beaudry and Paul Delisle. What do these two men have to do with cemetery vandalism?

Well these two men are members of the American French Genealogical Society (AFGS), which, among others, has taken up the task of transcribing all the tombstones in Rhode Island.

The Rhode Island Historical Cemetery Transcription Project has taken on the rather lofty goal of indexing all the graves in the state.

Beaudry and Delisle, and others like them, go to the cemeteries to map them out, section by section, taking down information on each headstone, size, type of stone, and all the information etched on it.

Oak Hill Cemetery was the first in northern Rhode Island to go through the transcription process.

All those old stones that are falling to the elements - and some of the newer ones that are falling to vandals - are now forever categorized in a book printed by the AFGS.

What does this have to do with the recent vandalism?

Well, up to now only two copies of the book have been in existence. One was in the hands of the society. The other was in the hands of Oak Hill Cemetery caretaker Avery Cook.

But soon the 400-page volume will be available to the public at large for $30.00 apiece.

And the proceeds will benefit the cemetery.

‘The books will be published within a few weeks,” said society publicist Sylvia Bartholomy, as she explained the group’s interest in the cemetery. “We’re interested in French Canadian history, but American’ is in our title too. We’re trying to preserve the history of all of Woonsocket and the Blackstone Valley.”

The idea to offer the book to the public came as a result of the recent vandalism. With the recent surge in genealogical interest, it’s bound to become a best. seller.

Copies can be ordered by calling the American French Genealogical Society at 765-6141. Bartholomy recommends calling during business hours, that way “you can talk to a person instead of a machine.”

Thos interested in the society can also visit its Web site at

Daniel H. Trafford Is the Sunday editor of’ The Call. His column appears every week on the Valley page.

Updated Nov. 11, 2000

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