O'Brien County's Bell-Times-Courier -

O'Brien County Cemetery Preservation Association Established


Over the course of many months, a group of dedicated O’Brien County residents have come together to create an organization focused on the maintenance and preservation of O’Brien County’s cemeteries. The project began as an effort to restore the Pioneer cemeteries scattered throughout the county, some known, some waiting to be rediscovered. The effort is now formalized into an organization that will first restore Pioneer cemeteries then work on a maintenance plan for all cemeteries in the county working hand in hand with city or township trustees already holding that responsibility.

A county-wide not for profit association, O’Brien County Cemetery Preservation Association, has been founded. Officers have been selected. They are Doug Negus of Sutherland, President; LeRoy Steffens, hartley, VP; Marilyn Summers, Paullina, Secretary and Eunice Wilson from Primghar is serving as Treasurer. The group meets each last Tuesday of the month at General N.B. Baker Library in Sutherland. People from all over the county participate. With good weather now here, work at Covey Cemetery will start soon.

Restoration includes cleaning stones, the grounds, straightening headstones and monuments. In some cases, headstones may require replacement. The original group poured through records to identify unidentified grave sights there. Headstones will be purchased and placed at those sites.

Preservation includes maintaining the cleanliness of stones, their stability and providing assistance with keeping all cemeteries tourist ready. Research, advise on cleaning and care and some volunteer research for active cemeteries is part of the menu of services this group is already in positioned to provide.

Signage is an important part of the effort of the preservation group. Directional signs to pioneer cemeteries are planned. Maps for each cemetery are planned. Design work for the visual aids is underway.

Communication with cemetery owners is in the works. Getting permission from cemetery owners is vital.

A few projects got discussion from the group on Tuesday April 24. One project is to restore and stabilize a large monument in Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Primghar. The monument is leaning badly according to one member. Four kids are memorialized from that monument.

Cemetery Preservation leaders are in talks to organize a second “Cemetery Walk” with Economic Development and with County Conservation. Discussion of marking veterans’ graves at the Pioneer Cemeteries was held. Effort to organize ceremonies at one or more Pioneer Cemeteries is taking place. LeRoy Steffens noted that 43 Civil War Veterans are buried in the hartley Cemetery.

The next meeting of the group will be held Tuesday May 29 at 5:00pm. Everyone is welcome.


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