No Trick, But Plenty of Treats for Pottstown Cemetery Restoration Effort

four smiling women outdoors
Image via Hobart's Run.
Friends of Historic Edgewood Cemetery and Hobart’s Run are collaborating on an Oct. 22 clean up event/art fair in Pottstown. The public is invited.

Friends of Historic Edgewood Cemetery and Hobart’s Run are planning a fourth Art Fair and Cleanup event on the cemetery grounds at 989 E. High St. on Oct. 22. Both events will occur simultaneously from 10 AM to 3 PM.

The event also will allow visitors to learn about a new effort to care for the abandoned resting place and see a pollinator garden recently created through Hearts of Humanity Community Development Corporation.

In addition to encouraging quality arts and crafts vendors to reserve a 10×10 space for this bring-your-own-table event (which raises essential funds used to keep the grounds mowed), the volunteers are adding a new element to their ongoing efforts to restore the historic grounds.

Addressing the Need

As cleanup crew individuals and shoppers at the increasingly popular Art Fair will see, the officially abandoned cemetery, now maintained solely through volunteer efforts, has many stones that have toppled, sunken, and in some cases, broken.

Volunteer Kelly Fenstermacher of Pottstown is organizing an “Adopt a Gravestone” campaign to raise funds to repair and remount broken and fallen headstones.

The immediate goal is to raise $3,000, enabling seven headstones to be professionally repaired.

Fenstermacher is working with Hobart’s Run to create signs that will be placed at graves most requiring restorative attention. QR codes on those signs will contain more information about the program and how to donate.

Adopt-A-Gravestone donations can be made directly at this fundraising link.

Plots in Need of Attention

Some of the first plots targeted for long overdue attention include those for Davis and Kate Rowland. Davis was born in 1842 in Chester County and was a second-generation blacksmith until his death in 1913.

Another three stones mark the final resting place for the Williamson family.

William Williamson, Sr., was born in 1832, went to Yale College, and returned to Pottstown to become the editor of the Pottstown Ledger. He married Mary E. Pennypacker and served as the secretary of the Pottstown Gas & Water Company before he died in 1885.

The third group of stones marks the final resting place for the Eppehimer family. The patriarch, Henry, was a founding member of the First Methodist Church in Boyertown; his son, Samuel (and his wife, Louisa), brought Methodism to Pottstown.

The Art Fair and How to Participate

Vendors who donate an item or items for the raffle pay only $35 to reserve a space; the fee for other artisans is $40 per space. All funds go toward mowing fees.

The spring arts event attracted many shoppers and more than 45 vendors; its fall counterpart is still open to local artists wanting to sell wares.

The raffle of donated artists’ works also is a popular part of this now biannual happening.

Interested artisans should contact the organizer, Bronwyn DeMaso, at 484-235-7875 to reserve a spot.

Hearts of Humanity Shows Love for Butterflies, Beautification

Another development at Edgewood Cemetery is the recent addition of a pollinator garden organized through Hearts of Humanity Community Development Corporation and its director, Shona Williams.

Williams reached out to the cemetery’s volunteers (as well as organizations Habit for Humanity, Trellis for Tomorrow, TriCounty Community Network, Mosaic Community Land Trust, and Montgomery County Community College) to ask for collaborative help as well as supply donations needed to create the six raised beds designed with butterflies in mind.

Volunteers came together over several weeks to build the planters and irrigation systems and prepare and plant the beds.

Several companies — including Home Depot, Wojton’s Nursery, Agway, and Colonial Gardens — donated pollinators and supplies. Students at The Hill School worked to decorate the rain barrels that will help keep water on hand for watering, and its employee Rich Bouher donated stone for the beds.

“Hearts of Humanity wants to help community members learn how to grow gardens that keep on giving and promote sustainability in Pottstown,” Shona Williams noted. She added that she has volunteers on tap to keep the gardens weeded and cared for.

“We love connecting with great people who support this mission,” she commented.

More information about her organization is available on Facebook at All41Humanity or by phone at 877-460-4160.

“The goal of the Edgewood Historic Cemetery volunteers is to bring the community to the cemetery,” Bronwyn DeMaso says. “The more people who know about this historic cemetery, the more will care about what happens to it. And the more funds we can raise toward the ongoing, $15,000-plus annual mowing costs.

“We want to show respect to the U.S. veterans and former Pottstown residents buried there while beautifying this space so prominently located on High Street in Pottstown.”

The Cleanup and Other Ways to Participate

Of course, volunteers as well as artists are encouraged to give some time to the Oct. 22 cleanup.

Hand tools and gloves will be provided; workers are welcome to bring mowers, weed-whackers, and other yard-care equipment.

Planners again thank Little Italy, Cassidy’s Irish Pub, and Elena’s Pizza and Catering for contributing refreshments for volunteers and vendors.

Contributions of gift baskets, gift cards, and other items are welcomed for the raffle. Interested businesses and friends should contact Cathy Skitko by email or phone (610.705.1017) to arrange a pick-up or drop-off of appreciated items.

Donations to the fund to cover annual mowing fees may be made online, and checks may be mailed to Edgewood Historic Cemetery, c/o 740 E. High St., Pottstown, Pa., 19464.

All maintenance depends upon events like the Art Fair, as no Borough of Pottstown funds support its upkeep. Community groups that would like to plan a fundraiser to help Adopt-a-Gravestone or overall cemetery maintenance should contact Andrew Monastra, president of the Edgewood Cemetery friends.

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