Volunteer caretaker breathes new life into historic cemetery | Progress News
MADERA – A new stone, perched on an embankment above Crooked Sewer Road, marks Henderson Cemetery – a small burial site with a rich history.
Volunteer warden Tom Stodart celebrated the installation of the stone and the new flagpole with sunlight on Veterans Day. Stodart has looked after the cemetery, located near Henderson Street, for approximately 27 years.
His wife Joyce’s previous husband and family maintained the resting place.
â€œThey were the original keepers and then it got really run down,â€ Stodart said. “I told Joyce that I’m going to go up to the cemetery and see what I can do.”
Joyce’s nephew made the original wooden sign. The elements focused on the sign, which began to fall apart, noted Stodart.
Stodart began to visit various organizations, including Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, and Supervisors of the Township of Woodward, asking for help. An individual also made a donation for the care of the cemetery.
â€œOnce they all heard what he was doing, they were more than eager to help,â€ said Joyce Stodart, â€œBecause a lot of people didn’t even know the cemetery was there.â€
Stodart has ideas for the surrounding areas, which feature historical elements such as an old school foundation.
Stodart lives a stone’s throw from the cemetery. A hangar contains all of its equipment. The caretaker even has a path to the cemetery from the house.
Routine maintenance includes mowing the grass about once a week. Sinking stones require dirt for leveling, Stodart noted.
The oldest gravestone, Joyce Stodart recalls, dates from 1793. The markings on the stone may look different from those today.
Robert Mathers, born June 16, 1798, died at the age of 78 years and two months, according to his gravestone.
And the most recent addition to the cemetery dates back to the early 1900s, according to Stodart.
The stones have been recently maintained. When Philipsburg Marble & Granite installed the new stone, Tom Stodart asked if headstones could attract attention. For a cost covered by donations from the community, the stones received care.
â€œThe stones that were broken, we had to glue them back together as much as possible because they are fragile,â€ Stodart said.
Other features of the cemetery include a World War I veteran. It is believed that there might be a Civil War veteran. However, this has not been confirmed, Stodart said.
The former president of the Clearfield County Historical Society – the late David Wulderk – began to reflect on the history of the cemetery. Wulderk died in August. Another gentleman will potentially contribute to the research process, according to Stodart.
Before the new stone, it was perhaps difficult to see the historic site. Stodart hopes some trees will be cut soon, freeing up space for drivers to see better. The Township of Woodward will likely facilitate this process.
At the moment, Stodart is taking care of the cemetery on his own. In the future, he might need help. He is grateful for the continued support the community has provided so far.
â€œThere is an overwhelming response to help,â€ Stodart said. â€œI can’t say enough about the supervisors or the veterans or the Legion or whoever it is. “