This letter is in response to the recent letter about Shaul Cemetery. I am not writing this to criticize, but rather to hopefully explain some of the problems that not only Shaul, but many of our cemeteries, have recently had.
My husband, David, and I take pictures for findagrave.com, and this last year we have spent hours in our area’s cemeteries. I can honestly say that we have often stood in Shaul Cemetery and marveled over the wonderful condition it is in, and just recently we discussed the factors that make Shaul so beautiful. They have had many of their broken stones repaired. In fact, they have very few broken stones, which is rare for any cemetery. U.S. flags are flying in their flower beds, and birds sing and twitter around the handcrafted birdhouses in the trees. Also, Shaul is one of the few cemeteries that still locks its gates at night, and we feel this strongly contributes to the good condition of its grounds.
When that wind storm came through Ottumwa last June 15, many trees were destroyed. It personally took us the entire summer to clean up and repair the damage to our yard and home. We were in Shaul right after that storm, and there were several trees on the ground and many large limbs had broken from trees that were still standing. I was also in Shaul many times after that, and I can attest to the fact that they worked diligently to clean up the mess. I do not personally know which stones had to be moved in this effort, but David and I do gravestone repair in a country cemetery, and on several occasions, we have had to temporarily move stones to clean up broken trees. There simply is no other way to clean up the mess without breaking the gravestones.
Many times while doing our gravestone repairs, we have run out of nice weather and had to finish them the following summer. I am sure that with the massive clean up effort Shaul undertook last summer, they also ran out of time. I was at Shaul two weeks ago, and there were several fellows working that afternoon, mowing and putting grass seed on the new graves. I feel confident that the workers at Shaul will mow the grounds and finish repairing last year’s wind damage as soon as possible.