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A Cemetery Tour Highlights 1918-19 “Not The Best of Times!”

Saturday, May 4 @ 1:00 pm 4:00 pm EDT

The Ridgefield Graveyard Restoration Committee, which is an official town committee, invites townspeople to a self-guided tour at the town’s main cemetery complex, at the intersection of North Salem Road, North Street, and Mapleshade Road, on Saturday, May 4, from 1 to 4 p.m. (rain date: Sunday, May 5, 1 to 4). There is no admission charge; freewill donations can be made to the Ridgefield Historical Society.

The theme will be “Not the best of times!” The committee is highlighting some of the graves of Ridgefielders who are believed to have died in the great Spanish flu epidemic of 1918-19. The vital records from those days didn’t often specify “influenza” so the deaths of a substantial group of 20-to-30-year-olds all within the time when influenza overran Connecticut are used as an indicator.

While Ridgefielders were coming to the end of the Great War (World War I) and a global pandemic as 1920 approached, there was a portion of the population that was prospering. Their monuments can also be found in the cemetery complex: people like George Pratt Ingersoll, Harvey Platt Bissell, and George A. Doubleday. (Mr. Doubleday actually lost his wife to influenza; wealth was not a protection.)

The cemeteries in the triangle bounded by North Salem Road, Mapleshade Road, and North Street include Titicus, Mapleshade, Scott’s, Hurlbutt, Fairlawn, and Lounsbury. Access is from the gate at the intersection of Mapleshade Road and North Street; volunteers will guide tour-goers to parking and there will be maps guiding visitors to the highlighted graves.

Representatives from the Ridgefield Historical Society, which stores the records of the Graveyard Restoration Committee and hosts its meetings, will be on hand at the tour with information about other Historical Society events. They will have copies of Jack Sanders’ book, Here Lies the Body, about all of Ridgefield’s cemeteries, for those who want to learn more about the many fascinating people who chose to make Ridgefield their final resting place.

Upcoming