The Caddo Civic and Cemetery Club recently revealed its plans for a major expansion and improvement of Gethsemane Cemetery. The club is one of the oldest in the state and has been caring for the final resting place of Caddo’s residents since before statehood. The first group cleaned and fenced the weed-strewn forlorn city cemetery, organized the burial process, kept records, and built a chapel. Over the years, the club has made many other improvements including roads, signs, and a veteran’s memorial.
The latest project is a new road and archway that will provide better access from Highway 22. The club purchased more property at a tax sale and has already moved forward with surveying in preparation for graveling the new road. A former resident has contributed to the project and the club is also requesting donations. The new road and addition will make the cemetery more visible and accessible from the highway while providing more room for burials.
Like many local cemeteries, Gethsemane has faced budget problems in the past few years. People who have a family member buried in the cemetery paid a “perpetual care” fee for the maintenance of their plot, and this is used to finance mowing, road maintenance and damage repairs. Unfortunately, the cost of maintaining the cemetery is rising and the small fee charged for perpetual care is no longer sufficient to meet those needs. Many other cemeteries have increased all of their fees, but the Civic Club is trying to avoid an increase by asking for donations to support current maintenance and continued improvements.
The motto of the Civic Club is “Do Noble Things.” Caring for Gethsemane is indeed a noble thing. For more information about the cemetery or future plans, contact The Civic and Cemetery Club, P.O. Box 224, Caddo, OK 74729.
Mary E. Maurer is an avid Caddo historian and has previously written historical features for the Democrat.