Edited and reprinted from Paris Beacon-News, 2002
The Edgar Cemetery Board of Directors met recently to officially open the new High Street Entrance with a ribbon cutting ceremony announcing a new beginning for the cemetery since its first recorded burial around 1815.
This project was funded through an estate bequest solely for this purpose from the late William Patrick, following his death Dec. 7, 1994. The cemetery board added other undesignated gifts to make the improvement possible. A new water faucet in the north portion of the cemetery was included in the project.
This will be the first time in its 188 years of record that the cemetery has provided its families with a separate entrance to the 65-acre burial ground, started with a donation to the community for a non-profit, self-supporting cemetery by Jonathan Young. Mr. Young and family are buried on one of the largest lots in the cemetery located atop the highest point.
The cemetery is the final resting place of 20,065 individuals from all ages and walks of life. Currently, interments average 100 per year.
The first cemetery entrance, circa 1858, was approximately one-half block North of Young and Clay streets and had a white picket arch over the one-drive entrance, a picket fence and a small picket side gate. Still under the sod along the left side of the existing drive remains a brick sidewalk, which provided access to the cemetery gate from Clay Street in those early years.
As property along Clay Street, the South edge of cemetery, became available it was acquired, adding new lots for burial across the entire front of the cemetery, giving it an updated look. This is easily noticed by the newer vintage and design of memorials along the front of the cemetery compared to the older style memorials just beyond the drive’s first intersection and location of the original gate.
A newer entrance was erected in 1888 south of the first at the Young and Clay Street intersection, giving the cemetery its improved appearance and expansion of that day. This entrance was made of three stone columns, the center column between traffic lanes was inscribed with the names of the board members and builders and the year it was constructed.
A wrought iron arch spanned two drives with the words Edgar Cemetery on it. The center post was saved when the gate was taken down and placed on a hilltop in the cemetery for time and people to remember.
The estate of the late Lucy Cook McFarland in memory of her parents left a trust for the construction of a new entrance with a single lane for traffic making room for larger cars and trucks entering and leaving the cemetery, thus replacing the gate restricting traffic due to the width of two narrow lanes on either side of the center column.
Therefore, in 1969 the present entrance was constructed of Indiana limestone and consists of a tapered wing and post on each side of the drive. The gate construction was incorporated with the building of the present front fence designed of brick post and chain.
The 2002 High Street entrance is a result of gifts from a number of families who provided the necessary funds for the development of this entrance.
Looking to the future, the new entrance will add easy access to families and friends coming into and leaving Edgar Cemetery.
The entrances and total cemetery appearance will be greatly enhanced by flowerbeds, planting of trees and shrubs, plus the addition of a second water source for the families of the cemetery at a North location.
The local Master Gardner’s of Paris volunteered to establish selected flora, bushes and shrubs at the new entrance along with work being done by Barkley Farms Nurseries adding beauty and a serene setting to the cemetery’s newest entrance at High Street.
Edgar Cemetery is a self-supporting cemetery. No tax monies are received and the enhancements of the cemetery, which include mowing, maintaining existing drives, developing new sections and drives, new lots, beautification, removal of dead trees, planting new trees and many other improvements, are done through the community’s kindness in form of gifts, bequests and trusts left to the cemetery. Many such gifts are left to the cemetery’s general fund while others are left for a particular purpose; whatever the intentions of the gift and the giver, they are met and respected by the board. The sale of lots, grave openings and memorial foundations provide the cemetery’s income.
Gifts and bequests are often received by Edgar Cemetery from individuals and families who wish to remain anonymous. Some gifts are designated for a specific purpose, others are not. Some gifts are in-kind contributions. All gifts, large or small, are important to maintain and enhance the serenity and beauty of the cemetery. All generosity is greatly appreciated by the board, lot owners, families and friends of the cemetery.
Tax free gifts provide longevity for the needs of the cemetery. The entire community benefits from the gifts made through the years. Remembering is what cemeteries are all about.
Edgar Cemetery is managed by a seven-member volunteer board, and is self-sustaining. The board continually looks to the future of the cemetery while holding on to its past. Members of the 2002 Board of Directors are William Milburn, Jim Englum, Jack Asher, Mary Ellen Bibo, Scott Ingrum, William Hodge, Superintendent Kimalie Jones, and Joan Brengle.
The Board of Directors encourages the donation of trees to the cemetery and provides planting services. Many trees are given in memory of departed loved ones and for other philanthropic reasons. Donors may visit the cemetery office at 629 Young Street or call 217–463–2415 and talk with the Superintendent to participate in the tree repopulation.