I’ve been involved with several cemetery restoration projects, and each left me with a feeling of accomplishment. I helped to uncover Folkenroth Burial Grounds in North Codorus Township, which was obscured from view for decades by an overgrown clump of trees in the middle of a farmer’s field. I also worked with a team of volunteers to beautify Hebrew Reformed Cemetery in York city, which was severely overgrown by ivy.
It’s now time for another project.
A few months ago I wrote about St. Emanuel’s Union Cemetery, found along an alley in the small town of Jefferson, otherwise known as Codorus. Overall, the cemetery is in good condition but like us all, age has been taking it’s toll. At the rear of the property is a pile of fallen tombstones with no organization or order. I’ve been working with the cemetery association to devise a plan so they can be properly displayed, and the time has come to put the wheels into motion.
A preservation project is born…
The plan that I devised is fairly simple: lay down a row of plastic, place the tombstones on the plastic with the inscriptions facing up, and eventually place small river rocks around them for aesthetic reasons. When the work has been completed, visitors will be able to view all the tombstones on the property without having to search through the pile of those that have broken off.
While working out the details for this project there were a few challenges that presented themselves. The first was what type of material would we use to lay the stones on? At first I thought of simple rolls of plastic, but over time vegetation would probably destroy it. Roofing rubber was another option, but before we could locate any, Ken Becker offered plastic liner made of HDPE that is used in landfills and as swimming pool liners. After discussing this with the cemetery association, it was decided to use that material.
Ken has a personal interest in this project, as his ancestors tombstones are some of those found in the piles we’ll be working on.
Another issue that concerned me was how to move some of the larger tombstones, which are very heavy. There would be no way to safetly move them without the risk of injury, but Ted Schaefer offered the use of his Kubota tractor which we’ll certainly welcome. Ted is an avid Preserving York reader and long-time member of the group with the same name found on Facebook.
A donor has even made a generous monetary donation towards any supplies we may need for the project, which is greatly appreciated.
The above monument features the names of all those who are buried in the cemetery, and even contains pieces of broken tombstones inside.
We could use your help…
We would really appreciate any area residents that would like to volunteer for this project. There are really only two different tasks that will need t be worked on. The first will be placing the liner into position, and the second is moving the tombstones from their current location to the newly-created area. There will certainly be some physical labor involved, but with the use of Ted’s tractor and possibly a wheelbarrow and/or dolly, we’ll try to make the work as easy as possibly.
I’m a fan of working smarter, not harder.
The specifics of the project can be found below. A map has been included to aid those who will be joining us. If you would like to volunteer, please send me a message using any of the methods found on my Contact Me page. I’d like to keep an accurate listing as a way to communicate with the volunteers as needed.
Thank you for any assistance you can offer, and I hope to see you for a rewarding day of work.
What: Cemetery restoration
Where: St. Emanuel’s Union Cemetery
When: October 27, 2011 at 9:00 am
If the weather does not cooperate, we’ll be sure to notify everyone about a rain date.
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