Monday, November 09, 2015

Reclaiming a Lost Cemetery

On September 19th of this year, Kim McAllister Anderson and I took a trip up north, into Manitoba, Canada. Emerson, to be exact. Town of my birth, and much more. But that aside, we were on a mission: To locate, by rough map, an old almost-forgotten cemetery.

Thanks to Wayne Arnesy, former Mayor of Emerson, he and some other helpers reclaimed the old gravestones they could locate and now it is roughly maintained annually. It is in a grove of oak trees in the middle of a farmer's field, not far from a marsh-like slough. A trail leads to it, which can be traversed in a 4-wheel drive off-road vehicle. Or if you're up to it, hiked a half mile from the street that ends at the current cemetery - closer to town and on higher of ground to prevent flooding.
It was my first time using my passport, to enter Canada. We went through the new ports of entry, much larger and foreboding than the older, humbler buildings of my youth. No one knows me now, no waving me through. I'm just another unknown and possible terrorist they must be on guard for so as we stopped and waited our turn, out came our passports. We were deemed harmless and allowed to enter.

Old Emerson Cemetery (1872-1900),  1/2 mile east of main cemetery

The original town founders assumed the town would expand out farther than it ever did thus the original cemetery location. All too soon it also became apparent that the location was flood prone, so a new cemetery was created closer to town on higher ground. Many of the graves and stones ended up being moved from the old cemetery to the new one.

The act of photographing each gravestone in the old cemetery, as well as its GPS location (all of which are uploaded to BillionGraves) continues the reclamation of this old, small, yet important cemetery.  It is part of our local history, and each person buried there deserves recognition and preservation.

At 7 minutes, 20 seconds, former mayor of Emerson, Mayor Wayne Arnesy, begins talking about the Old Emerson Cemetery. He has some very interesting history concerning the cemetery, that he shares...