By Jenny Barkley
Replacing trees is part of the maintenance and upkeep of Edgar Cemetery. Many of the old trees in the cemetery are dying, or damaged by nature, as pictured. Due to a newly established Memorial Tree Fund, coupled with a young tree nursery, memorial gifts for loved ones and friends can now be donated to help replace the dead and damaged trees and maintain the green canopy over the burial ground for generations to come.
An Edgar Cemetery Memorial Tree Fund was established in 2010 by the Edgar Cemetery Association to allow memorial gifts to help replenish the tree population in the city's largest burial ground. In recent years, many of the trees that have towered over the burial grounds since before the cemetery was established in the mid-1800s have secumbed to old age and damage from storms.
When the need for repopulation became apparent, the Board of Directors established the Edgar Cemetery Tree Fund, as well as a nursery on the grounds, to provide replacement trees of the appropriate size and species at the least possible cost.
"Edgar Cemetery is a beautiful and serene setting," said Edgar Cemetery board president Jim Englum. "The Edgar Cemtery Tree Fund was established to preserve and expand the green canopy over the grounds which have served many families of Paris and surrounding communities for over 150 years, and will continue to do so into the future."
Detailed information regarding the Edgar Cemetery Tree Fund is now available on an ongoing basis from local funeral homes or the cemetery office, for those who wish to participate. Donations of any amount are accepted for the project. Large gifts are used to erect a tree at the donor's request, or smaller donations are combined with other contributions toward the planting of a tree.
Levels of giving correlate with tree trunk diameter sizes, ranging from saplings to those with 4 inch trunks.
"The size of the tree determines its price," Englum explained. "A tree witih a little more size on it is less likely to secumb to damage from weather, disease or wildlife."
To provide a source of young trees for the cemetery, a nursery has been established on the cemetery grounds with the help of Bruce Patrick of Hatari Nursery near Paris. The cooperative venture is an agreement between the Cemetery Association and Patrick. The cemetery provides the setting for the newly established nursery, and Patrick provides the expertise, as well as the specialized machinery to dig and then plant the trees.
"Undesignated funds given to the Edgar Cemetery Tree Fund assist with the nursery stock, as well as costs of moving and planting the trees when they have acquired some size and substance," said Englum. "It's good that we are nurturing trees that we obtain at a reasonable cost, and that we have the cooperation of Bruce Patrick to help us give them a permanent location when they have reached the appropriate age and size. We are helping ourselves stretch our funds to reach our eventual goal - more quality trees in the cemetery."
Edgar Cemetery currently maintains over 70 acres of lawn, 11 miles of roads, and approximately 20,000 burial sites. The operation is self-supported, and receives no tax revenues. With the generosity of gifts, bequests and wills, the cemetery provides maintenance and expansion for those resting therein, the families who visit, and for those who will be laid to rest in the future.
The Edgar Cemetery Association has developed a recommended list of preferred hard wood and decorative seasonal flowering trees. The list includes trees that do well in the cemetery and require a minimum amount of maintenance. Donors may choose from the list, or if no preference is expressed, the cemetery will select and place the tree.
"Expanding the cemtery requires establishing new roadways, developing sections and lots, and providing burial sites, as well as continued enhancement of the peaceful, serene and beautiful setting, including the addition of trees," said Englum. "Gifts are 100 percent tax deductible."
Those desiring to provide a tree as a living and lasting tribute to a loved one or friend may leave a request at a local funeral home to be forwarded to the cemetery. Donations are also accepted at the Edgar County Bank into the Edgar Cemetery Fund. Specific requests, such as location or tree type, should be discussed with the cemetery superintendent, Bruce Quinn at the Edgar Cemetery office, 629 Young Street, with hours from Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., or by phone at 217-463-2415. If a gift is "in memory," the cemetery will notify the family of the gift by mail.
"People are finding that a gift of a memorial tree to the cemetery provides a living and lasting tribute," said Englum. "The program has been in operation only a few weeks, and we have already received several memorial donations as a result. We hope that others will find this is a thoughtful way to remember someone at the time of their passing."