CT Statutes Concerning
Gravestones & Cemeteries
In 1996 CGN compiled the state statues that pertain to our concerns regarding cemetery laws. Dr. Poirier at the State Preservation Office has mailed these out to all Connecticut Probate Judges, Municipal Offices and local Historical Societies. We are trying to get the word out to all concerned. Our hope is to see that these laws, which have been greatly overlooked in the past, can now be put to use. We encourage you to check with your local municipal offices to inquire if they have received them. A copy of this package can be obtained from CGN; we only ask that you send $2.00 to reimburse us for copying and postage.
Here is the Most Important Statute for those doing conservation and repair work:
C.G.S. Section 10-388 which mandates that immediate notification be provided to the Office of the State Archaeologist regarding the accidental discovery or disturbance of human osteological remains.
Also, of special note is C.G.S. Section 19a-315a et seq. which provide for the preservation of ancient burial places. (SEE BELOW) In particular, no grave marker shall be destroyed, injured or removed without written consultation with the pertinent probate court and the Connecticut Historical Commission. This provision also pertains to the proposed repair, rehabilitation and renovation of an ancient burial place.
It has come to our attention that this is one of the most overlooked statutes. Many repair methods, some of questionable integrity, have been used over the years. This is not to say that those doing the work were not conscientious or caring. Obviously they wanted to right a wrong. We now know so much more about old methods that have failed and caused more damage over the course of time. The debates in some cases will go on forever. A single method for all old stones is nonexistent. We encourage you to gather information and use this statue. We have a need to get this information out to monument dealers as well. Old stones need different considerations than modern stones. It is often difficult with 100 & 200 year old stones to locate family descendants; however, keep in mind that gravestones are personal property.
The statutes also speaks of similar mandates that would involve renovation of fencing, trees and curbing of an ancient burial ground, and posting a 90 day notice of intent to do so.
Ancient burial ground (in Connecticut) is one having been used for burials for a period of 100 years or more. This would include still active cemeteries with burials of that age.
CHAPTER 952 PART XXI, MISCELLANEOUS OFFENSES
Section 53a-218. Interference with a cemetery or burial ground: Class D felony.
(a) A person is guilty of interference with a cemetery or burial ground when he, without authorization of the owner of the burial lot, or a lineal descendant of the deceased, or of the municipality, cemetery association or person or authority responsible for the control or management of the cemetery or burial ground: (1) Intentially destroys, mutilates, defaces, injures or removes any tomb, monument, gravestone or other structure placed or designed for a memorial of the dead, or any portion or fragment thereof, or any fence, railing, curb or other enclosure for the burial of the dead, in or from any cemetery or burial ground; or (2) wantonly or maliciously disturbs the contents of any tomb or grave in any cemetery or burial ground. (b) Interference with a cemetery or burial ground is a class D felony and any person found guilty under this section shall be fined not less than five hundred dollar s. (P.A. 84-280, S. 4; P.A. 89-109).
Section 53a-219. Unlawful possession or sale of gravestones: Class D felony.
A person is guilty of the unlawful possession or sale of gravestones when he possesses or sells, offers for sale or attempts to sell or transfers or disposes of any monument, gravestone or other structure placed or designed for a memorial of the dead, or any portion or fragment thereof, knowing that it has been unlawfully removed from a cemetery or burial ground. (b) Unlawful possession or sale of gravestones is a class D felony. (P.A. 84-280, S. 5.)
Section 53a-220. Interference with a memorial plaque: Class A misdemeanor.
(a) A person is guilty of interference with a memorial plaque when he, without authorization of the governmental body responsible for the placement, control or maintenance of a memorial plaque, intentionally defaces, mutilates or destroys a plaque commemorating a person or event, or removes such a plaque from its official location. (b) Interference with a memorial plaque is a class A misdemeanor. (P.A. 91-173, S. 1.)
Section 53a-221. Unlawful possession, purchase or sale of a memorial plaque: Class A misdemeanor.
(a) A person is guilty of the unlawful possession, purchase or sale of a memorial plaque when he possesses or purchases or attempts to purchase or sells, offers for sale or attempts to sell or transfers or disposes of a plaque commemorating a person or event knowing that it has been unlawfully removed from its official location. (b) Unlawful possession, purchase or sale of a memorial plaque is a class A misdemeanor. (P.A. 92-173, S. 2.)
REGARDING MUNICIPALITIES AND OLD GRAVEYARDS
Sec. 19a-315a of the Conn. General Statutes states: No municipality shall alienate or appropriate any ancient burial ground (More than 100 years old) to any use other than as a burial ground. No portion may be taken… without the approval of the general assembly. If permission is given, the burial ground authority must preserve a record indicating the date of the removal and the place where they were moved. If done without permission it is a Class D felony.
* * *
For more information contact CGN or Connecticut Historical Commission, David Poirier, Staff Archaeologist at 59 South Prospect St., Hartford, Ct. 06106. Phone (860) 566-3005.