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

Perfect Stone Cleaning Day


OCCPA Members work at one of the stones at the Steuck cemetery in rural O'Brien County on Tuesday, May 13.

Members of O'Brien County Cemetery Preservation Association (OCCPA) gathered at a rural cemetery near Hartley known as Steuck Cemetery. They also did some work at a nearby cemetery known as Emmanuel. Both cemeteries are Pioneer Cemeteries. They are the second and third Pioneer cemeteries in O'Brien County to have attention.

On Tuesday May 13, some members were able to get out in perfect weather and clean stones at both Steuck and Emmanuel Cemeteries. Six members were able to give at least a few hours to the stone cleaning.

During the morning's cleaning, several fallen stones were discovered. Freeing the stones for the dirt, cleaning them and setting them back up has become the next priority of restoration for the group. Another date will be set for that kind of activity.

Signage for the cemeteries is also part of the project. Road signs directing visitors to the Pioneer Cemeteries are either ordered or have been installed on county highways. Installation of a directory and map at each Pioneer cemetery will also occur over time.

Revitalizing Pioneer cemeteries in O'Brien County to a state of repair is the first and primary focus of OCCPA. At the present time, members confirmed seven cemeteries and at least 1 more burial site meeting state requirements as a Pioneer Cemetery, no more than 12 burials in the last 50 years.

Activities of the group include cleaning the 200 stones in Pioneer Cemeteries and, in the coming months, doing restoration work to the stones. Two individuals have been identified to take classes to do restoration work for the group in exchange for the cost of the training.

Toppled stones at the Steuck cemetary.

Restoration activity, after cleaning, can be properly adhering broken pieces together and filling cracks or seams; restoration may be remounting or leveling a stone. It may be making the inscriptions more readable. There is a lot to the restoration, but to have attractive, cared for cemeteries commemorating the history of this county and the people here is priceless.

The not-for-profit organization is supported by the O'Brien County Supervisors and by grant funding and donations. They meet the last Thursday of each month at 5:00pm at the Sutherland Library. Membership is free and open to the public. Make plans to attend and learn more about the history of O'Brien County through its cemeteries or to participate in a cleaning or restoration project.


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