Sam Luptak Jr.
New Castle News
NEW CASTLE —
Greenwoood Cemetery on Burke Street is New Castle’s oldest cemetery.
For years, it has lain in disrepair and disarray. Vandals have damaged stones. Grass has remained uncut. In a much publicized break-in, someone entered a mausoleum, broke open the compartments and removed the remains from their final resting places.
Now, a group of concerned residents has seen enough. They’ve formed a 14-member board and taken over maintenance of the cemetery, working without money to clean up the grounds.
That cleanup effort continued Saturday as a host of volunteers from New Visions, and the VFW descended upon the cemetery with the intent of continuing the cleanup and repairs of the historical graveyard.
“What’s happening with us is this,” said Mae Mangino, a Greenwood Cemetery board member. “The oldest area of the cemetery is a veterans area in the back. There are mainly Revolutionary to Civil War vets buried there.
“Years ago a tree fell, and they are going to clean up that area.”
About 25 volunteers with chainsaws, back hoes and trailers participated in cleaning up the huge fallen tree and the rubble and damage it had left behind in the oldest section, which was once called the Old Stone Church Cemetery.
One of the volunteers, 12-year-old Shenango student Xavier Gibbs, had come out at 8 a.m. to help, along with his father and friends. He said he thought it was important work.
People need to be able to see their past,” Xavier said, “and find their loved ones and ancestors. This is history.”
Indeed, this a historical section in a most historical cemetery.
“We have generals, congressman and many important people buried in our cemetery.” Mangino said. “We want to preserve that history for the future.”
Mangino and the board began their efforts two years ago amid a rash of negative publicity about the deplorable conditions of the grounds. In the two years since, they have massively improved the looks of the area, cleaning up trash, mowing grass, and generally maintaining order and security of the place.
Now they continue to improve, with plans for a Veterans Day commemoration in the cemetery where the volunteers spent Saturday working so hard to restore.