"Spirits of Oakwood" to keep cemetery history alive

"Spirits of Oakwood" to keep cemetery history alive

Tyler (KYTX) -- A passion to keep history alive in Tyler's oldest cemetery is at the heart of a fundraiser this weekend.

"It has graves that date back to the early 1850's," Kathy Gaston, a member of the Oakwood Cemetery Restoration Committee, said.

Take a walk through Tyler's oldest city-owned cemetery and you'll see a lot of family names that still ring a bell today.

"The Bonners are buried here, the Goodman family from the Goodman museum, and Governor Hubbard is buried here," Gaston said.

Even Gaston herself has family ties. She shows us one of the 25 Gastons laid to rest here.

"Phineas Ewing was one of the early doctors. He was a dental surgeon in Tyler," Gaston said.

She explains although this is a city cemetery, the city basically keeps up with lawn maintenance and road work, not grave stones.

That's where her committee comes in. "There may not be any family members left," Gaston said.

They've taken on the responsibility to repair these broken grave stones.

"Most of the damaged ones you see are marble, because marble is a softer material," Calvin Keller, who repairs the grave stones, said.

Keller has fixed over 200 and has dozens more to go--citing vandalism and old age.

"Right now, we're doing the markers that are down in the ground where you can't read them," Keller said.

The "Spirits of Oakwood" tour this Saturday helps pay for the cost involved. Last year the event raised nearly $2000.

Nine spirits have been researched and will be featured. A person will represent them in costume, to accurately depict how they lived during that time period.

The tour is 1:00-4:30 p.m. at Oakwood and Palace St. in Tyler. The cost is $10 for adults 12 and older.



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