TIOGA COUNTY (WBNG) – In Owego, Evergreen Cemetery is a staple of the Southern Tier community and is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The cemetery dates back to 1853, which means restoration and general maintenance projects are recurring efforts.
“We were placed on the National Register in 2002 as an archetypal example of a rural cemetery,” said historian Peter Gordon.
The Municipal Public Works Service is in charge of maintenance and contributes to the proper functioning of the site. Two groups contribute to efforts to keep Evergreen Cemetery beautiful: the Cemetery Committee and the Friends of Owego Evergreen.
“Benefactors have contributed and we have also received money from other charitable funds through Friends of Evergreen,” said Fran VanHousen, Cemetery Commissioner for Owego Village Council.
The Friends of Owego Evergreen is a non-profit organization dedicated to restoration and preservation efforts. Historian Gordon refers to the committee as the eyes and ears of the village council with raking, removing sticks, removing dead trees, conducting conferences for the restoration of headstones, and more.
The committee is always looking for volunteers to join their fleet on “work days” to help with over 60 acres. “Much of what needs to be done is actually very simple. Just pick up some clearing sticks for the mowers and rake the leaves from the gutters. So it’s not particularly strenuous work,” Gordon said.
The cemetery committee meets on the third Saturday of each month, which means the next one is scheduled for May 21.
Volunteers are asked to be at the hillside site by 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 21. Instructions for a good cleaning of the graves will take place around noon. If you can’t be there all the time, you are always encouraged to stop and contribute what you can.
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