An Albany man's efforts to restore a historic pioneer cemetery took a big step forward this summer with the news he has received a grant from the Oregon Commission on Historic Cemeteries.
Rick Pyburn received $8,200 from the organization. He plans to use the money toward putting in an access road to the Gingles Cemetery off Springhill Drive northeast of Adair Village.
"This is a huge shot in the arm!" he wrote in an email to the Democrat-Herald. "With this grant we will be able to cut in the road and remove most of the brush and undergrowth."
Pyburn has established a website at www.ginglescemetery.talkinghawk.com, where potential volunteers can contact him about how to help with restoration.
"I am hoping the website will start a movement in respecting cemeteries," he said.
In 1886, James Gingles (pronounced "Jingles") deeded the hilltop that contained the three-quarter-acre cemetery to what was then the Wells School District. That land became the Benton County School District, then the Fir Grove School District.
Pyburn, a retired construction company owner, lives close to the cemetery and has relatives buried there. He took over the ownership of the cemetery this past January from Greater Albany Public Schools, which absorbed the property during an overall consolidation of the district in 1979.
The grant is part of $61,500 awarded in all by the Oregon Commission on Historic Cemeteries this year. The funds are to be used to help support preservation efforts, repair work and visitor education.
Elsewhere in the mid-valley, Mount Union Cemetery in Benton County received $4,000 to be used for monument leveling and repair, and the Albany Masonic Cemetery in Albany received $1,680 that will be used for tree trimming and monument repair.
Historic cemeteries are documented by the commission and must include the burial of at least one person who died before Feb. 14, 1909.
The historic cemetery grant program is offered annually by the commission, part of the Oregon Heritage Program at the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.
The commission maintains a list of all pioneer and historic cemeteries in the state. The seven-member appointed commission helps people and organizations document, preserve and promote of designated historic cemeteries statewide.