Lakeside Cemetery is a quiet, historic and beautiful place, and the Lakeside Cemetery Committee wants to raise $140,000 to keep it that way, according to Ben Burroughs, vice chairman of the committee.
The money, which they hope will come from not only people who have ancestors buried there, but also from anyone who has an interest in seeing the cemetery improved.
The committee wants to use the money to build a decorative wall all along the front of the cemetery, not just from one entrance to the next, but beyond the entrances.
“It’s like a park. People go there just to walk around,” Burroughs said. “They can just appreciate the beauty of it. It’s peaceful…I think it’s kind of special and this wall will help add to that.”
The cemetery started as a family burial ground in 1869, but was later given to the City of Conway after Hal Buck convinced Adeline Burroughs, widow of Franklin G. Burroughs, to donate it for a larger cemetery.
According to Burroughs, the city sold lots there, but didn’t put the money into any kind of fund for future care of the cemetery. The money went into the city’s General Fund instead.
Now the city tends the public spaces, the entrance roads, the gazebo and the hedges along the road.
But Burroughs says the hedges take so much maintenance that city workers don’t have much time to work on other problems.
People are tasked with keeping the plots of their ancestors clean and manicured, but many of those ancestors have either died or moved away, so the committee and others are working to keep their plots looking nice, but they do that only in rare circumstances.
“It’s becoming so overwhelming as the years go by that we thought we’ve got to make it so it will be cared for when we’re gone,” Burroughs said.
Burroughs got the project started by going to Richard Johnson, former owner of Historical Ironworks in Conway, who created the gates at both entrances.
He designed a brick fence as his donation to the project, and now the committee must find the money to pay for the bricks and its construction. They have already begun speaking to brick masons about the project and recently got permission from the city to build the wall.
“He’s got really good taste and…he put a lot of thought into it,” Burroughs said of Johnson’s design.
Burroughs said the committee originally worried that it might not be able to raise enough money to fund the wall, but threw “some balloons up” and the response was positive.
Committee members have designed a donation form with hopes of beginning their fundraising campaign before Christmas. People who pay for sections of the wall will have their names on small plaques perhaps put on the back of the wall on the sections they funded, but Burroughs said any amount will be accepted, and if someone has only $25 to give, they’ll gladly take it.
There is some money in a fund left to the cemetery by the late Rebecca Bryan that might possibly be used.
Burroughs hopes to see some work started on the wall by summer.
In the meantime, the committee will host one of its regular cleanup days Nov. 23 from10 a.m.-1 p.m. when everyone is invited to bring their rakes, brooms and clippers and join the effort.
As for building the wall, he said, “We’re doing this, it’s for the beauty of the cemetery, but it’s also to preserve the cemetery because by doing this, once it’s up it’s going to be low maintenance so we can concentrate on the inside easier. We won’t have to worry about the hedge. It’s going to keep the overall cemetery attractive.”