Many of Washington County’s historic cemeteries were once located in the midst of thriving communities, but overtime they have become neglected and overgrown. A local preservation group is hoping to change this epidemic.
On Saturday, the Washington County Cemetery Preservation group held a presentation called “Bringing It Back: Cemetery Maintenance.” It took place at the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History. Organizers invited Holly Hope from the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program to speak at the event.
“We’re hoping that we are educating people in the best ways to preserve their cemeteries because there are a lot of ways to destroy a cemetery when you think that you’re doing good by it,” Hope said.
Keeping cemeteries maintained and documenting each burial site for public files are also key goals for historic preservation.
“You want to get names, you want to get all of the inscription, a lot of times, there’s a maker’s mark on tombstones which can be very important to the historic record,” she said.
Janice Mattox came to the meeting to learn how to preserves her family’s history and take care of the community’s cemeteries as well.
“We’re just getting started at it and knew that we needed to take care of those up there in Rogers,” Mattox said.
Grant funding and contacting your local representatives are the best ways to fund cemetery preservation efforts, according to preservationists.
“Cemeteries are like a book almost of what the community was before,” Hope said.