BURRILLVILLE — First Lieutenant Stephen Hopkins of 12th Regiment Rhode Island Infantry had only served four months in the Union Army when he was wounded at Fredericksburg, Va. in December of 1862. Less than two weeks later, Hopkins died of his wounds at the age of 25. Today, his headstone lies broken in a cemetery in Burrillville. A newly formed group is about to change that.
The Blackstone Valley Cemetery Network met for the first time at an informal coffee chat recently. Despite the fact that most of the participants were meeting each other for the first time, the group coalesced quickly.
“It was amazing to watch,” said Valerie Paul, volunteer coordinator for the John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor, who hosted the meeting. “Their shared passion for historical cemeteries had these people sharing ideas and contact information almost before the meeting began.”
At that first meeting, Betty Mencucci of the Burrillville Historic & Preservation Society discussed the issue of Lt. Hopkins’ gravestone.
“He served our country and his memory should be honored,” Mencucci said.
The group decided to repair this gravestone as its first project. Representatives from a volunteer group from Smithfield helped Mencucci assess the condition of the stone. Another group member representing the Sons of Union Civil War Veterans provided information on Hopkins’ service.
Mencucci said the group plans to repair the stone on Saturday, July 16, starting at 9 a.m. The public is welcome to observe the repair.
Better yet, says Mencucci, “bring a rake and help clean up this historic old cemetery while we’re there.”
The cemetery is located in the Pascoag section of Burrillville at the intersection of Howard Avenue and Charles Street.