The board of directors of the Fairfield Evergreen Cemetery Association announced recently it has received an anonymous pledge of up to $20,000 in the form of a matching grant to support the cemetery.
Efforts are now underway to match the $20,000 gift and also heighten awareness about Evergreen and how it is run and maintained.
The cemetery is not owned by the city but rather by the association which is a non-profit corporation that exists to provide an attractive, well-maintained cemetery for the community. It is not supported by taxpayer dollars, although the association does receive an annual stipend from the city to cover the cost of mowing the old Fairfield city cemetery west of Evergreen. Its primary means of support comes from lot fees and burial charges, plus memorial contributions and grants.
The association hopes to use the money received from its fund-raising campaign for much needed maintenance and equipment purchases as well as a computerized mapping and record keeping program. Projects like these have been postponed over the years as the number of burials in the cemetery has declined.
The association has raised almost $10,000 toward its goal of matching the $20,000 donation. According to the terms of the donation, it has until Jan. 15 to complete its fundraising campaign.
According to association president John Stever, burials have decreased from an average of 90 per year 20 years ago to under 50 per year during the past several years.
?With that trend and our income being tied to burials, it is very difficult to maintain the cemetery with rising wages, fuel prices and equipment and repair costs,? he said.
In addition to contacting people who have relatives buried in the cemetery, as well as those who plan to be buried there, the association is hoping the entire Fairfield community will support the fundraiser because its residents want to see the area?s largest cemetery retain its beauty and continue to be maintained appropriately.
?Giving money to a cemetery may not seem as meaningful as donating to a cause such as curing cancer or providing food for impoverished children, but we hope people will see the benefit of contributing to an integral part of Fairfield,? said board member Mary Jordan Neff, whose great-great-grandfather Clement Jordan founded the association in 1870.
History of cemetery association
The creation of the association is described in a paragraph from an article titled ?A History of the Association to 1881.? It states, ?At a time most opportune, the venerable Capt. Clement Jordan, coming from the rugged coast of Maine, made desire and hope become fact and fruition. After the death of his wife in 1865, he commenced looking around for a suitable location, and trying to interest local citizens in its object. But not until April 1870 were his efforts crowned with success, when he with eight others, Capt. W.R. Wells, John H. Wells, George A. Wells, W.H. Jordan, A.S. Jordan, A.R. Jordan, N.S. Averill, and Geo. Stever, organized an association. They bought and caused to be artistically laid out, the grounds now so commonly known as The Fairfield Evergreen Cemetery.?
For more information about the cemetery, contact its superintendent Ralph Hickenbottom at 472-2509, or any of the local association board members, including Tom Gamrath, Joe Hunt, Tim Kuiken, Steve Lamb, Tom Louden, John Stever and Kent Whitney. Contributions to the association may be made payable to Evergreen Cemetery and mailed to 510 E. Stone St.