PLATTSMOUTH – To preserve Cass County pioneer cemeteries is to preserve the dignity of those buried there and to preserve the history of this area.
That was the message at Tuesday’s Brown Bag lunch series at the Cass County Historical Society Museum provided by Sandra Allgeier, a representative of the East Cass Pioneer Cemetery District.
According to Allgeier, a pioneer cemetery by state law is one that had to be established prior to 1900 and have notable people buried there.
There are 17 of these cemeteries in this district that stretches from the southern limits of Plattsmouth to the Otoe County line and west to 84th Street, according to Allgeier. Most of them are overseen and maintained by their own cemetery board. Five of them, however, have been abandoned, she added.
“We are committed to take care of them, also,” Allgeier said of those five.
Fortunately, there has been good news in recent times concerning the financial costs of maintaining all of these burial sites by the county’s Board of Commissioners, she said.
That wasn’t always the case.
“For 100 years, these cemeteries received nothing, except from donations,” Allgeier said.
Earlier this decade, Allgeier and other cemetery preservationists learned about a state law allowing for the creation of a cemetery district.
There was much work to do though to make it a reality, according to Allgeier.
“We spent two years getting petitions (for a district) and we needed a majority approval of resident taxpayers,” she said. “People were very receptive.”
Upon accomplishing that, the county commissioners approved the district, allowing for taxpayer funds to maintain these cemeteries.
“Once it was approved we formed a board,” Allgeier said.
Two years later, the commissioners provided its first budget to the district board, according to Allgeier.
This year, the district is receiving roughly $25,000, she said.
The money is divided among the 17 cemeteries, based on the number of graves. Those with more graves receive more money, Allgeier said.
One goal is to perform a major cleanup at one of the abandoned sites each year, according to Allgeier.
Last year, the Kenosha Cemetery south of Plattsmouth was cleaned up, she said.
This year, it’s hoped by the Dysart-Hoback cemetery with 15 graves near Union will be cleaned up, she said.
“It’s to preserve the dignity of those individuals and to preserve the history,” Allgeier said of this project.