By Brenda Underdown
A rural family cemetery left wrecked after last winter's ice storm will be revitalized as one of three projects funded through the trust fund of a late benefactor of Crittenden County history and genealogy.
Matthews Cemetery in Frances, the final resting place of a few dozen people, including at least one veteran of a war fought nearly 150 years ago, was buried itself last January under broken limbs and trees weighed down with ice.
With no cemetery association to fund or oversee maintenance of the graveyard, the debris made regular upkeep by volunteers a daunting task.
A $500 grant approved last week by the Braxton McDonald Foundation Board of Directors will help families of the deceased pay for removal of the debris and a new sign identifying the cemetery located on Ky. 855 South, about a half-mile from its junction with Ky. 70.
Other awards made with investment income earned from the McDonald endowment include $1,200 to Crittenden County Public Library for its annual subscription to the online genealogical research tool Ancestry.com, and $7,000 for annual operating expenses of the Crittenden County Historical Museum.
In 1999, Braxton McDonald, a former county educator, left as his legacy a substantial amount of money in a will to form a trust fund to benefit local history and genealogical preservation projects.
Each year, the board of his namesake foundation awards grant money to help fund such projects. “We are glad to be able to continue carrying out the final wishes of a man who sought to keep history alive in Crittenden County,” said board member Faye Carol Crider.
Another board member, Daryl Tabor, who has ancestors buried at Matthews Cemetery, said “Assisting those families who wish to return the cemetery to a proper memorial for the deceased is a fine example of how he intended his trust to be utilized.”
While the library and museum have benefited from the annual grants in the past, the Frances Cemetery is a first-time recipient.
“Since a Civil War veteran, as well as World War I and World War II veterans are buried here, I feel we should try to keep up the cemetery,” wrote Rita Travis of Marion in the grant application submitted on behalf of the burial ground.
By awarding the funds, the Braxton McDonald Foundation's generosity will unlock two other contributions toward the effort. Judge-Executive Fred Brown has pledged donated use of a county-owned wood chipper. Billy Fox of Henry and Henry Monuments has also agreed to help volunteers reset fallen monuments at the site.
(Source: The Crittenden Press, used with permission)