Brian and Linda Hernan for more than two decades were the caretakers of the Peter Ball Cemetery, which intruded on their property at 795 Sudbury Road.

They uncovered the mid-1800s cemetery from brush and fallen trees, cleaned it up, put a new wooden fence around it, and planted trees and bushes to make it more attractive. They were neutral about the cemetery being their neighbor.

One fall, Linda planted 50 red tulips in the cemetery. “Tulips don’t usually come back,” she said. “But two of them came back each year for many years.”

One was in front of the grave of Reuben Ball’s wife, Martha, and the other was in front of their daughter Clara’s grave.

Finally the tulip stopped appearing in front of the mother’s grave, but the one in front of Clara’s continued to come up every year until the Hernans sold the house in 2002.

“One day I had to say, ‘Clara you have got to let me go.’ That was a little strange,” Linda said.

The Hernans put the house up for sale in 2001 and sold it in 2002 and moved to Roswell. The cemetery spooked a lot of potential buyers. “One in three were noticeably disturbed by it,” Brian said. “One in three really didn’t care but didn’t like it, and one in three were all right with it. We actually had one lady run away when she walked back there.”

He added: “We were proud of it. It was a piece of history.”

— John Schaffner