Our Volunteer of the Year!

Bill Preston of Ballston Spa cleans a headstone at the Ballston Spa Village Cemetery on Saturday Aug. 20, 2016 in Ballston Spa, N.Y. (Michael P. Farrell/Times Union)

Mary Upton, left, of Schenectady and Bill Preston of Ballston Spa clean headstones at the Ballston Spa Village Cemetery on Saturday Aug. 20, 2016 in Ballston Spa, N.Y. (Michael P. Farrell/Times Union)

This past year, from early spring through late fall, we had one amazing individual who helped in several areas of improvement for our cemetery.

Bill Preston singlehandedly cleaned all of the grave stones in the Old Catholic Cemetery (OCC) section.  These stones were extremely dirty and difficult (if not impossible) to read.  A few of them were hidden under a few layers of soil and sod.  Bill found many hidden stones and cleaned them along with all of the upright stones so that they could be read.

You may be unaware of the OCC portion or the cemetery.  It is a very narrow strip on the southernmost border along Ballston Avenue.  It was purchased sometime in the early 1840’s as a burying ground for village Catholics, before St. Mary’s church was formed.  Approximately 1865 St, Mary’s purchased the land on Church Avenue which now comprises St. Mary’s Cemetery.  Care of the Old Catholic Cemetery was assumed by the Village Cemetery in exchange for the remaining unused graves.

We recently found that OCC was never mapped (at least that we know of) and that we did not have burial records for this section.   Bill Preston took it upon himself to do the cleaning of all of the stones AND he recorded the names and dates on each of them.  Additionally, he created Find-A-Grave pages for the majority of the burials.  This information has now been included in our records which appear on our website.

Apparently bored after all of the above work, Bill replaced the deteriorated mortar between stones in the E.L. Walsh vault.

Bill has also cleaned dozens of other grave stones in the cemetery and has trained several other volunteers who have come to help us improve conditions.

Thank you Bill Preston, your dedication and hard work has made a very significant difference in the appearance of the village cemetery.