A Monumental Day
History buffs gather for trek to Saratoga cemeteries June 29
July 3, 2019
On a bright Saturday morning, June 29, around 33 people interested in learning about the past gathered at the Saratoga museum for a trek to area burial places to soak up information about local cemeteries, those who populate them and those who have worked to restore and beautify them.
The trek, titled "From Boot Hill to Paradise", began with Saratoga Museum director Kim Givens introducing the host for the Saratoga Historical and Cultural Association sponsored journey, local historian Dick Perue.
Perue began his overview by stating that he would be telling stories about the cemeteries themselves and the people interred there by smiling and joking, "some of it may even be true."
After giving a brief itinerary of the trek, the troupe loaded up in their vehicles, with some carpooling, for the first site on the trip: Cadwell Cemetery.
While at the burial ground, some joked about disturbing spirits. To this, longtime cemetery researcher, Judy Hodges, said she had never felt uncomfortable in the cemeteries adding that she let the people there know she was there to do research.
Pillow Talk and
After the group had entered the currently disused cemetary, Perue began to give histories of the various states the grounds had gone through during its history and some personal backgrounds on those resting at the site. Perue then related the story of how the fence around the cemetery came to be, saying that his mother suggested building a fence around the cemetery to his father, Bob, who was a fencing contractor.
To that suggestion Perue related that his father replied, "Well, I have a lot of paying jobs, and I'll get around to that volunteer job as soon as I can." Perue continued saying, "I do not know what the pillow talk was that night, but at breakfast dad announced that we were going to build a fence around the cemetery."
So for two days his father's workers, comprised of his four sons and their two cousins, built the barbed wire fence around the cemetery at the elder Perue's expense.
Too Far to Travel
Perue and Hodges gave histories of some of the headstones and those who lay beneath as the group made their way around the gravesites. Eventually, Perue said that town father, Taylor Pennock, decided that the older cemetery was too far away from Saratoga proper by carriage and donated the land where the current cemetery is located sometime around 1895.
First County Fair
When the travelers arrived at the Saratoga Cemetery, Perue first handed out pamphlets with information on the cemeteries and history of the area surrounding the burial place. From the parking lot, Perue showed the area where the first Carbon County Fair was held, pointing to now private land and giving a brief history of the event. Perue then pointed out the old stone gates near the entrance to the cemetery saying that those had been built by the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) around 1934. Perue then added that those stones marked where the CCC camp was during part of their time in the Valley between the years of 1933-1942.
The group then headed indoors to the Valley Chapel for a video presentation Perue had overseen for the now defunct Saratoga television station. During the presentation, several grave markers were depicted and histories of some of the interred were given. The video also highlighted restoration and improvement made to the cemetery by the Oddfellows and others over the years.
A Monumental Walk
The troupe then adjourned to the area outside for a walk amid the tombstones in the nicely manicured burial area.
Perue stopped at several tombstones and gave brief histories of some of the town founders buried underneath. Frequent trek contributor Kenny Swanson stopped at his family's burial place and added some of their history and later Hodges pointed out the grave marker of a civil war veteran interred.
No Rest for the Wicked
Perue remarked on some of the ornate fences surrounding family plots and then pointed to a group of plain white crosses near the western edge of the burial ground saying that those buried there had originally been excluded from the cemetery proper because they were ladies of the evening and explained the "proper" ladies of the town did not want to share their resting place.
Perue then chuckled, "I may go to Hell," and went on to explain that he had worked to expand the cemetery to include those graves into the current burial place.
Ambling to Lunch
The group then wandered through the more modern parts of the cemetery with Perue pointing out additions and improvements to the cemetery while answering questions about the area.
The trekkers then returned to the Valley Chapel for lunch and discussion.
The next Saratoga Museum Trek is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. August 31 when trekkers will gather at the Saratoga Museum then head to Ryan Park for a look at the old Ryan Park Ski Area and the Barrett Ridge International Ski Jump.