Cleaning Up Cemeteries

In the Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), Caitlin Cleary writes about an all-too-familiar topic – neglected and forgotten cemeteries, and how some are working to get them back into shape, and on the positive side, how genealogy is spurring an interest in “reclaiming” these cemeteries, so to speak. It also mentions a little bit about how Pennsylvania is working on helping the public preserve these cemeteries.

Excerpts from the article:

Olive is just one of many such abandoned cemeteries in Westmoreland County and around the region. Orphans of their original churches, or private family plots sold off and reused generations later, they are islands of the past in a new suburban sea. Their survival relies on community volunteers, the shrinking pool of relatives of the dead, and a resurgence of interest in genealogy and historic preservation.

According to Scott Doyle, a historic preservation specialist with the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, the public’s interest in preserving historic cemeteries is high right now.

Within the next year, Doyle said, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission plans to launch a Web site to assist the public — clarifying all cemetery legislation and listing all the resources and funding opportunities.

If that didn’t give you enough of an incentive to help volunteer to clean up a cemetery or even a gravesite, maybe this will: Cara Host wrote about William Van Druff in the Observer-Reporter (Washington, PA) (another Pennsylvania newspaper). Van Druff has been patiently clearing the gravesite of a Revolutionary War soldier, with an interesting service record:

George Wisecarver has been dead for 163 years.

His grave, located on a remote hillside on state gamelands 223, Whiteley Township, became so overgrown with weeds that the two gravestones were barely visible. Someone toppled his gravestone and rolled it down the hill. The final resting place of Gen. George Washington’s wagonmaster during the American Revolution was nearly forgotten.

William Van Druff had to do something

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