A few years ago groups concerned about the rural cemeteries of Wood County joined forces in an attempt to remedy the neglect and danger of losing the burial sites of our Wood County ancestors; from that union, the Wood County Rural Cemetery Alliance was formed. It is a committee of the Wood County Historical and Preservation Society.
Our goals were to locate, note the condition of the cemeteries, create a usable method for genealogists and family to locate the gravesites and ultimately, create some means by which these burial sites can receive at least minimal maintenance. In general, we hoped to bring attention to an important part of our past, to those who are gone, and, in too many cases, forgotten.
Most of our goals have been met. We are confident that probably 95 percent of the burial sites have been located. With total cooperation from our county commissioners, these cemeteries can be found on the assessor's website and while there are yet additions and corrections to be made, it is already very useful. Hopefully we will soon have hard-copy maps available in the courthouse and library.
Readers of this newspaper have surely noticed that over the past year or two there have been an increasing number of items pertaining to cemeteries; increasing awareness was another of our goals. Unfortunately however, the remaining goal of finding someone to care for/about these sacred sites is difficult.
Nearly 200 cemeteries in Wood County are known by family names. In April, county commissioners, at the request of the Cemetery Alliance, proclaimed May as "Visit a Rural Cemetery Month." It is our hope that parents and grandparents will make the effort, during the month of May, the month of Memorial Day, to talk to their kids about previous generations, about their lives, and where they are buried. Better yet, take the kids and grandkids and show them their ancestor's gravesites. While it would be nice to take a flower, I'd like to think that the ancestor, as he or she looks down from above, would be happy just to see that someone still cares enough to visit their burial site.
Members of the Rural Cemetery Alliance will help locate the cemeteries and gravesites. How much do you care about your ancestors?