June 2, 2020
Tracy Brookshier, Secretary
A total of 5 people attended the annual Bethany Cemetery Spring Clean Up Day on Saturday, May 30th including myself, Bess Gamm, Lesli Stross, Cheryl Jennings & Ken Conner. Another cleanup day is being scheduled tentatively for Saturday, October 3rd 2020 and those interested in helping can reach out to me anytime.
It was a warm day but the nice breeze was keeping us cool as we worked for 3 hours at the cemetery. Lesli, Ken & Cheryl removed over grown trees and weeds which really helped clean up the aesthetics. I was able to clean a small handful of headstones while recording tombstone information for the re-creation of our missing plat book. We were able to put back into place the stone of Anna B. & Joseph Smith that had gotten pushed out of place by an overgrown bush.
The fence row got a much needed clean up as well thanks to the weed-eating done by Cheryl & Ken. We noticed that in a few places the fence needs some mending, so we hope to have that fixed as soon as someone is available to do so. Additionally, we have noticed the mortar of the John E. & Margaret B. Shannon Mausoleum has been deteriorating over the years. Our intentions have been to seek out someone to assist with repairing it; little did we know someone came and made the repairs before we had arrived that afternoon. So to whomever that gracious person is, we can’t thank you enough!
At the end of our clean up, we gathered and talked about our family history and any odd stories we may have had come across in our family research which was quite enjoyable, interesting and some humorous. We discussed that even though our aching bodies may not like it, the cemetery could use a good clean up like this more than once a year.
Bethany Cemetery is a small cemetery right off HWY 54 in Louisiana on HWY UU. It has over 250 people laid to rest and a little over half of the cemetery’s 32 lots are occupied. It took me 3 hours to log tombstones and plot information from 5 of those sections. The re-creating of our missing plat book is time consuming but necessary if we want our cemetery to flourish again. The majority of those laid to rest in our cemetery can be found on findagrave.com, if you have any interest in family history, this is a very valuable site. We hope that once we get all of our tombstones logged in our plat book, that we can cross reference with this website and add to it, allowing for easier searches on your relatives.
Since our original plat-book still has yet to be retrieved, we are doing our best to re-create it. It’s last known whereabouts was with Charles Stewart of Centralia whom has family laid to rest in the cemetery as well. If you happen to know or find this plat book, we hope you will return it to our cemetery association as it has all of the records regarding the cemetery that are invaluable.
Bethany Cemetery is a very small, non-endowed cemetery, that is not a registered not-for-profit either, which makes it difficult for our cemetery association to raise funds to keep this cemetery going. We have gracious donors each year who send in what they can to help us with the cemetery maintenance, and without those donors we aren’t really sure where we would be right now. Those donors have family laid to rest and want to ensure their family’s final resting places are taken care of; and that is our duty to ensure it is; not only as board members, but because it would be immoral of us not to especially considering that we have family laid to rest there as well.
This responsibility is especially difficult when those donations barely cover mowing expenses so we are trying to come up with ways to help raise funds so that we can ensure the cemetery does not end up abandoned as it nearly was 10 years ago. Our board has worked very hard to get Bethany back to where it is but unfortunately, there is not too much extra that we can do without funding. We encourage those with family buried there to make a donation of any size to assist in the upkeep and beautification of it. If you are unsure, please visit Bethany Cemetery on findagrave.com to find a listing of nearly all who are laid to rest there.
If you haven’t learned your family history yet, I encourage you to start looking. This is how I came about finding this cemetery, and found three relatives that I did not even know existed; if it wasn’t for their tombstones, I don’t think I ever would have known. If we don’t take care of our family that is laid to eternally rest here; who will? What will become of our great grandparents and descendants final resting place?
Thank you to all of those who got us to where we are today and for those that will help us in the future. If you would like to be on our direct mail and/or email list for notifications and information, please reach out to me anytime. Lastly, visit our facebook page “Bethany Cemetery” as we share updates and memorial/grave information as well that could assist with family history research.
Bethany Cemetery Association, Secretary
P.O. Box 51, Bowling Green, MO 63334