Cemetery in need of support

Published 7:46 pm Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The old cemetery known as Maplesville Cemetery across from Seales Grocery needs more people interested in helping to raise funds and support for its upkeep.

The cemetery, located on Shepherd Hill Road in Maplesville, is jointly owned by Maplesville Baptist Church and Maplesville Methodist Church, and the Baptist church currently oversees its maintenance and covers expenses with the interest generated from the church’s cemetery fund.

Over the years, however, the cemetery fund has decreased because of the diminishing number of people with loved ones buried there, making the need greater for increased community involvement in the cemetery’s upkeep.

“They don’t get very many contributions on it,” said Clem Clapp, a local historian and member of Maplesville Baptist. “Folks have died off, and the funds have dwindled. It’s a struggle to maintain.”

Clapp said one issue is many family members of those buried in Maplesville Cemetery have died, moved away from the area or are unaware they are related to someone in the cemetery.

Another issue making it “a struggle to maintain,” as Clapp said, is the haphazard arrangement of headstones, some of which are concrete slabs and markers situated extremely close to each other.

“It’s a pretty good sized job to cut a cemetery with slabs and markers,” Town Clerk Sheila Haigler said. “These old ones are so close together that sometimes you can’t even get a push mower through there.”

The grass-cutting process in the cemetery (estimated to constitute about two acres of land) is time-consuming and sometimes requires the tedious use of a weed eater or herbicide spray around fences and among grave markers to eliminate tall grass and weeds.

Clapp said many of the older graves are unidentifiable now because inscriptions on the markers have worn away, but a listing of burials in a book called “Cemeteries of Chilton County” available at the Chilton-Clanton Public Library could help identify people buried somewhere in the cemetery.

Aside from reserved family plots, the cemetery is at capacity and has no room to expand.

“As far as new plots go, there seem to be none,” Haigler said. “It’s full as people have already put a hold on what’s there.”

Clapp said the cemetery was the first semi-public cemetery in Maplesville, and the Methodist church was originally built adjacent to it circa 1850.

The Methodist church moved closer to the railroad in the 1870s but continued to take care of the cemetery. When the church’s attendance began to taper off, the Baptist church shouldered the maintenance responsibilities, including labor and expenses.

Members of the Baptist church are the sole caretakers of the cemetery.

Family members of those buried in Maplesville Cemetery are encouraged to contribute in some way, but anyone in the community who wishes to help financially or voluntarily may do so.

For more information or to get involved, call Maplesville Baptist Church at 334-366-0004.