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By Lew Keen, Chair of Newport Historic Cemetery Advisory Commission
Twenty-five years ago, Professor Ron Onorato engaged his students at the University of Rhode Island to return slate gravestones to Newport that had found their way to other locations. 14 stones were not returned and served as an important study collection for many students interested in the stones and the sites. With retirement on the horizon, Professor Onorato and the Newport Historic Cemetery Advisory Commission have made plans for the final journey of the stones home.
On June 26th students form URI will deliver stones to the Common Burying Ground. The location for each stone has been selected based on the 1903 mapping conducted by the City of Newport. Historic locations for 4 stones were not able to be determined, so a section has been designated for these stones as well as some fragments that will be buried. Volunteers prepared the holes so the stones can be easily installed when they arrive.
Some of the stones from the collection belong in other places and have already returned home. The 1748 stone for Peleg Heath was returned in October to the Barrington Cemetery Commission and in May, a 1727 stone for Hagar Phillips was transferred to the South County History Center. The stone for Margarett Malbone will be returned to the Trinity Churchyard in Newport once preparations are completed for its return.