The Huntsville Item  Wednesday, March 27 2002

Volunteers to clean up historic cemetery

By Mark Passwaters/Staff Writer

Six years ago, Mac Woodward, the curator of collections at the Sam Houston Memorial Museum, led an effort to help restore Huntsville's historic Oakwood Cemetery. Now, with the responsibility for maintaining the cemetery in limbo between the city of Huntsville and the Oakwood Cemetery Association, Woodward has decided the time is once again right for the public to clean up Oakwood.

"I talked to several people that helped me before (in 1996), and we decided it was time to do it," Woodward said. "We're going to get up there and see what needs to be done. We're planning on a general cleanup, primarily in the historical section."

Woodward said both the city and the cemetery association have approved of the volunteer effort, scheduled for Saturday, April 13.

"I think it's fine that the cemetery association and the city are making a long-term arrangement, but I don't see any reason to wait if we can pitch in and see what we can do to help," he said.

Woodward said the cleanup would include fairly general tasks.

"We're going to clean up dead branches and throw them away, get rid of rotten flowers and try to get some of the fire ants," he said. "We're not going to be putting broken headstones back together," he said.

Woodward said that anyone interested in helping was more than welcome to come out -- "anybody's who's interested (in volunteering), we'll be glad to have them," he said -- adding that there will be volunteers on hand that will be able to tell people about the history of the cemetery.

"We're going to have brochures and people up there that can talk about the history of the cemetery," he said. "If people want to just come up and hear about it, that's fine."

Woodward stressed that the group organizing the effort is not interested in cash donations, but hopes the effort and the article on the cemetery in the Sunday edition of The Huntsville Item would get the attention of Huntsville residents.

"People that are buried up there are important to the community, and the cemetery is an important place in this community. It's actually a reflection of the community," he said. "A lot of people come to visit Huntsville, and they go up there first. We need to make a good first impression, and we're getting near the time when a lot of people will be coming through here."

Woodward said members of the community might do well to remember how the founders of Walker County accomplished things.

"I think we could take a lesson from some of the people buried up there. When things needed to be taken care of, they got together and did it," he said.

The cleanup effort will begin at 8 a.m. Those interested in obtaining more information on the cleanup effort can contact Woodward at the Sam Houston Memorial Museum by calling (936)294-3931.