Group plots cemetery restoration

March 16, 2005|by MARLO BARNHART

WILLIAMSPORT - The cemetery on land donated by town founder Otho Holland Williams back in 1787 soon will get a facelift, thanks to the efforts of a group known as the Riverview Cemetery Association.

Since the late 1800s, groups of citizens have cared for the cemetery, raising money and volunteering their time to keep the cemetery presentable.

"In 1985, the Rotary of Williamsport became the caretakers of the cemetery," said Dr. Richard A. Young. "We took it on."


The club purchased equipment to maintain the cemetery, but members were quick to point out that the Town of Williamsport mows the grass and performs other tasks at the site, which is along the banks of the Potomac River at the bottom of Church Street.

Now the association has loftier goals for the old but still active cemetery.

"We want to restore it now," said Craig Osborne who, with his wife, Brandy, are members of the association.

Not all of the association members are Rotarians - it is open to all who want to see the cemetery restored.

Longtime Williamsport resident Maurice Snyder said he estimates the cemetery encompasses about 10 acres of ground.

A number of block retaining walls - some 3 to 4 feet high and some even higher - need to be repaired. Some of the blocks have been pulled over by the forces of erosion.

It is still an active cemetery, although there are no lots available for purchase.

"Some plots are vacant but they are sold," said Craig Osborne.

As soon as the weather improves, work is expected to begin on the retaining walls at the back of the cemetery.

That work is being called Phase 1, with more work to continue when funds are available.

"There is now only a small paved road into the cemetery," said Rotary President Greg Garner, who pointed out another area of concern. "...It is very narrow - it will be hard to get a lot of equipment in there for the work, which will be very labor intensive."

Another area for improvement will be signs at each entrance and exit with the rules and regulations of the cemetery, said Brandy Osborne.

"We need to settle questions about pets, children and vehicles," said Craig Osborne.

Those rules will then be posted on the signs.

In the future? Columns or gates might be erected at the entrances. And then efforts will be directed toward restoring tombstones in the cemetery.

"It's a very historical site," Garner said. "We are not changing the appearance, we just want to restore it."

Funds are being sought from the community.

Checks may be made out to the Riverview Cemetery Association and sent to Box 481, Williamsport, MD 21795.

Questions may be directed to Osborne Funeral Home at 301-582-3311.

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