Country Cemeteries by Edna Foley


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A long time ago, folks who lived in the country had a family burying ground on their place.

Some man in the neighborhood would set aside a plot for a community cemetery. Finally these folks would move away or die, then the cemeteries would grow up in weeds and bushes. The cemeteries became eyesores. We had a community cemetery near us when I was young. Some graves were marked by a large stone. Some were unmarked. All over the country side these neglected cemeteries could be seen. Several years ago a movement to clean up these cemeteries was begun. In our neighborhood, the Home Economics Extension Club selected this as a project. On a Saturday in the spring, armed with equipment and our lunch, we went to the cemetery to work. Folks would take their mowers and mow their lot, but this wasn't much improvement. Everyone got to work. Some cut the sasafrase. Some raked the berries off and some picked up rocks.

The tall sedge was burned off under supervision. Our community had two cemeteries. A small church cemetery was behind the church, so grown up with saplings, you couldn't tell that it was a cemetery. Some man brought a chain saw and in no time the saplings were down. These were piled up at one side later to be sawed into wood for the church stove. All the debris was raked off the unmarked sunken graves, which were filled and restored. No one knew who they were, except God.

We stopped at noon to eat our lunch. I took a hot plate, so we could have coffee.

After dinner we tackled the other cemetery across the road. It was a lot larger, but not so grown up. This was originally an Odd Fellows Cemetery. When they realized that we were going to keep it up, they gave it to the community.

Fraternities have no funds for upkeep. It has to be a volunteer job.

This cemetery was laid off in lots, a narrow driveway divided it. This driveway was extended on to the side of the cemetery, where an entrance was made. The whole driveway was graveled. A lovely granite block entrance was built at the entrance. A large empty space where lots could be purchased, was cleared of rocks. By the end of the second year, these cemeteries were ready for a power mower!

We could hardly believe it. Lots of folks were interested and came to help. Several years ago, two different women left money for perpetual care. A board was formed and the money put on interest. Most of the folks who have loved ones buried there, send contributions to members of the board. Now every Decoration Day, when folks gather there, they find a well kept cemetery, recently mowed.

That was several years ago, that we all would gather to clean up this resting place of our loved ones. Many who helped clean it up are resting in this peaceful place.

I often think of those happy days of work and it makes me feel good. My loved one is resting there. I miss him so much. His smile, his gentle touch and the comfort of his arms.

Published by THE LEAD BELT NEWS, Flat River, St. Francois Co. MO, Thurs. May 29, 1980.