Pioneer preservation continues

Published 4:13 pm Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A year-and-a-half ago, it was overgrown, with leaning and broken gravestones and monuments coated in decades of grime.

Today, thanks to the efforts of the Pioneer Cemetery Preservation Association and the City of Greenville, the long-neglected, historic Pioneer Cemetery is “slowly but surely” getting whipped back into shape.

“Things are coming along just fine,” said Anne Feathers of the PCPA.

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“We’ve held another cleaning day; we’ve done additional publicity and we’ve managed to raise approximately $14,000 toward restoration of many of the graves there.”

The PCPA, with a steering committee comprised of members of the Father Ryan Chapter of the UDC, was formed in March 2008 with a goal of reclaiming the grounds and cleaning, restoring and repairing gravesites as needed.

Since that time, several work sessions have been held in the cemetery along with workshops led by experts to teach local committee members the types of DIY repairs that could be done.

“We have to extend our thanks to Jennifer Stringer and the City Horticultural Department, who came out earlier this year and did a wonderful job cleaning up the cemetery grounds,” Feathers said.

“Their work alone made a huge difference.”

A stone mason who is an expert in cemetery restoration work will assist the group with some of the projects at Pioneer.

“We are in the process of taking photos for our stone mason in North Alabama so he can get an idea of the restoration work he will need to do. There are other projects we can do ourselves,” Feathers said.

“Some of the gravestones will cost very little to repair, while others will cost several hundred dollars.”

The organization is also lining up resources to repair the fence surrounding the cemetery.

The PCPA and civic club volunteers have already scrubbed clean a number of the headstones, but there are still more requiring some TLC – and they could use some younger hands to provide it.

“We could really use some teenagers and young adults to assist us on our future work days. This would make some great community service work for our local high school students,” Feathers said.

Feathers said she will be making presentations at two area garden clubs about the ongoing work at Pioneer, and will be happy to speak to other organizations about their continued efforts to restore and reclaim a special part of the city and county’s history.

“We appreciate all those who have helped us, whether through donations or through their elbow grease at the site.”