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As I was driving to my planned cemetery visit, I passed this little cemetery. I came back and didn't even see a sign naming it. It had such fabulous stones. Still, no name. I came home and did some research. Here are two articles I found on this little cemetery located in Palmyra, Pennsylvania:
The cemetery that no one wants.
April 10, 2008
BY MONICA VON DOBENECKA
No one wants the Cherry Street cemetery in Palmyra, where about 1,000 people are buried, including veterans of the War of 1812, the Spanish-American War and the Civil War.
The cemetery is supposedly owned by a private corporation started in 1867 and run by a board of trustees elected by lot owners. But the trustees are long gone and nobody can find lot owners. A bank account has $30,000 for maintenance, but no one is authorized to write checks. Volunteers have been mowing the grass, but they're tired of the work.
At a news conference today, representatives of two churches that have taken care of the cemetery for the past 140 years said will do so no longer and are turning their records over to the Borough of Palmyra.
Borough manager Sherry Capello said she has no intention of accepting them. "For 140 years, the churches accepted care of the cemetery," she said. "We feel they have the responsibility."
The cemetery began in 1867, when six people who were members of the predecessors to Palm Lutheran Church and Trinity United Church of Christ formed the Palmyra Cemetery Association. Trustees were elected by lot owners, but at some point the annual elections stopped. Church members continued to manage the cemetery.
According to Palm Lutheran church member Harry Fox, the churches got a letter from the borough in 2003 saying the sidewalk next to the cemetery needed repairs. The churches hired attorney John Feather to check into their legal authority and their obligation to care for the cemetery. Feather concluded they had neither.
Capello said the borough contacted the churches when neighbors started complaining that grass and weeds were getting high.
For a while, volunteers from the Brethren in Christ church agreed to take care of it because their church was across the street. But the dozen or so volunteers decided at the end of last year they wouldn't do it any longer.
In the meantime, Feather tried to find people who would act as temporary trustees to get the cemetery association going. He was unsuccessful. He also couldn't find lot owners, although a woman was buried there as recently as a year ago.
Fox said in a written statement Thursday, "The churches have concluded that their mission and ministry is not to operate and maintain a cemetery."
Feather said he would leave the cemetery records with the library or the historical society if the borough does not accept them. He said the Pennsylvania Borough Code and the Pennsylvania Burial Grounds Law give the courts the right to direct the borough to take over neglected cemeteries.
According to Capello, that can happen if a majority of a borough's property owners agree. The code limits the amount a borough can pay for cemetery maintenance yearly to $3,000, she said.
Bob Stewart, director of the Pennsylvania Cemetery Funeral and Cremation Association, said there are hundreds of abandoned cemeteries in the state, many of them started in the 1800's. "The state doesn't have anything for abandoned cemeteries," he said. "I don't know what you do in that situation."
Capello said the situation is sad. "You can't just walk away because you don't want to do it any more and throw it at the borough," she said. "What's really sad is that it is a cemetery, and it's like disrespecting the dead."
and an update from May 2009:
Borough to mow cemetery for now
Friday, May 01, 2009
BY BARBARA MILLER email@example.com
PALMYRA - Palmyra Borough Council will mow the "orphan" cemetery on West Cherry Street this summer, while the borough and two churches say they are hoping for resolution of the dispute over care of the site.
Council agreed April 27 to mow the cemetery through Oct. 1 and bill the cemetery's trust fund for the cost, which is estimated at $1,000 per mowing.
"Council concluded it's the right thing to do for the appearance of the community in general," said Keith Costello, council president. "And it doesn't put us in a bad position if we need to proceed with litigation."
Care of the cemetery is in dispute, because its board of trustees no longer exists. While members of two churches that once had representation on the trustees cared for the cemetery for 140 years, last year they said they will no longer do so.
After the borough tried to get the churches to repair sidewalk along the cemetery in 2003, the churches researched ownership and concluded this was not their responsibility.
The borough last year filed a petition in Lebanon County court asking the churches to be held respons
PAUL WRIGHT FORMER 61ST DISTRICT COURTJUDGE.
Bouwer cousins re-union 11/11/2009 . Judge Paul WRIGHT in foregroud, Jack Bolt under the clock.
WRIGHT - Paul A. Wright died December 26, 2009 at the age of 95. Paul was preceded in death by his wife, Barbara and his special friend, Justine Tangeman. He is survived by his dear friend and companion, Henrietta DeLoof; two children, Andrew Wright (Barbara) of Grand Rapids and Susan (Michelle Kopcha); two grandsons, James of Grand Rapids and William (Jennifer) of St. Petersburg, Florida. With the exception of service in the navy during WWII and his time in Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan, Paul's long life was rooted in Grand Rapids, the city that he most loved and delighted in as it changed and grew. Paul was a graduate of the U of M Law School and began his practice as an assistant prosecuting attorney. In private practice for the majority of his legal career, Paul was elected to the 61st District Court in 1968 and served in that capacity until his retirement in 1984. The last of his generation on both sides of his immediate family, Paul will be missed for his quick laugh, his perpetual curiosity and the example he set with his willingness to engage in spontaneous activities right to the end of his life. A memorial service will be held at Sentinel Pointe Retirement Community, 2900 Thornhills Dr. SE, on Friday, January 8, 2010 at 3 p.m. with the family receiving friends immediately following the service. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that contributions in memory of Paul Wright be made to the charity of the giver's choice. Paul highly valued the commitment of the individual to one's broader community and contributions to any worthy cause would have been a high honor for him. The family is being served by Metcalf & Jonkhoff Funeral Service
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