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City of Centralia looking for help to improve city cemetery

Posted on Friday, September 4, 2020 at 6:13 am

The City of Centralia is looking for a few good men and women.

Centralia Mayor Chris Cox said they would be part of a select group to help improve the situation of the city’s ??-acre city cemetery.

The group he hopes to see grow, will have at least two goals, Cox said.

  • Research the recent history of the cemetery to make sure that several headstones which he said were moved for landscaping purposes a few decades ago were put back over the correct graves.
  • Pinpoint the locations of several unmarked graves in the southwest corner of the cemetery and ascertain if there can be a marker for each grave or one monument to honor them all.

He and Heather Russell, city administrator summed it up in a recent social media post.

“The City of Centralia is seeking volunteers who would be interested in participating on a committee to research the unidentified grave spaces in the City Cemetery of Blocks I, II, III, and IV. If you are interested, please contact Phyllis Brown Cemetery Sexton, Heather Russell City Administrator, Tara Strain City Clerk, or Mayor Chris Cox at City Hall 573-682-2139.”

Cox said there would be research and connection building involved.

“We hope to learn what we need and where we can get the resources and match those resources to a realistic plan of what we hope to do,” he said. “Part of what members of the group will do is find out what is available, research grants, speak with people at the University of Missouri, the State Historical Society and wherever else help might be available.”

Cox said the city is reaching out to local churches and other institutions and groups to find people who want to volunteer for the committee. “To help the city figure out what goals make sense given the resources we can find. Things like technology to help us pinpoint the unmarked graves, is it something we can afford, are there grants out there that would help pay for it?”

Cox also discussed searching through city records and others to get an idea of where some head-stones should be.

“In a way are at the mercy of some very old journals,” he said. “The cemetery was at least 100 years old when they city took it over.”

Regarding the moved headstones, he said there were written records held by a former city employee, but there might be other resources.

“We need to find them. There were several headstones that were moved so the city could put dirt in a part of the cemetery were water was collecting. They were put back in place while the guy who knew were they went was not there. There is some concern they are not in the right spots… Really this all about finding people who want to volunteer to help the city improve our cemetery.”

For the complete article, see next week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard.