Town applies for cemetery cleanup grant

The Ruscoe family cemetery is a small graveyard buried in the woods off Silver Spring Road, around the corner from Ruscoe Road. There is no sign to drivers to let them know it is there, and to get there requires a walk on foot down a rough path through the woods.

It is a neglected cemetery, to say the least. That is why the town will apply for a $2,000 grant to pay to clean it up.

It is one of about a dozen historic cemeteries in town, according to Sarah Gioffre, research assistant for the office of the first selectwoman.

It is not the only neglected cemetery in town, according to Carol Russell, the town’s official historian, who works in the local history room at the Wilton Library.

“There are three of these neglected cemeteries, and they selected this one,” Russell said.

The cemetery is named for the Ruscoe family, who lived in town since the 1700s. In the 1840s and 1850s, when many of the gravestones were marked, the family was known for its work as home-based shoemakers. The cottage industry of shoemaking, or cobbling, was very popular in Wilton in those times, according to research papers at the history room.

A man who could make boots and shoes out of commodity leather could earn a good income to support his wife and children, according to the research paper, written in 1996 by then-Wilton High School senior Lisa Cerretani.

Other popular local trades at the time included wagon making and silversmithing, according to the research.

Cerretani reported on all the bodies buried in the cemetery, which number 10 or so.

She also volunteered to lead a cleanup of the place in 1996. It has become overgrown once more with weeds and briars and bushes since then.

The grant is through the state Office of Policy and Management.

To be eligible, the cemetery must be neglected, with weeds, briars and bushes, and not under the management of an association. The Ruscoe cemetery is owned by the town and is believed to be eligible.