The grave markers are being made from redwood, and include a stamped aluminum marker with identification. The wood is recycled, re-sodded and is planed down. Once it is shaped, the aluminum identification stamp is placed on the front.
It was almost 10 years ago when Deb Wilson and Linda Freeman, volunteers and board members at the Weed Historic Lumber Town Museum, realized that Winema and Lincoln Heights cemeteries in Weed weren’t properly mapped.
Five years and lots of research later, Wilson and Freeman updated the map and found almost 360 unmarked graves in Winema Cemetery alone. These unmarked graves are now getting a new face, in the form of redwood and aluminum grave markers, complete with name, date of birth, and date of death.
Deb recruited her husband, Tod Wilson, to help with the project. He crafts markers for the graves in his spare time.
“I make the stones with Linda Freeman in my workshop,” said Wilson. “We’re working mostly on the west end of the cemetery, early graves from the 1900s. The old markers that were there had either rotted or had been left uncared for.”
The headstones are being made from redwood, and include a stamped aluminum marker with identification. The wood is recycled, re-sodded and is planed down. Once it is shaped, the aluminum identification stamp is placed on the front.
The Wilsons have been presented with donated wood from members of the community, as well as some supplies. The idea with redwood, according to Tod, is to hope for better weathering in the long run.
According to Tod, Deb will sometimes use findagrave.com in her searches, a popular site that can tell where people have been buried using public historical records.
“Some people find relatives, but most people’s families here are now gone, and can no longer keep the spots up,” Tod said.
The Winema Cemetery has over 300 unmarked graves, which the Wilsons and Freeman hope to change. Thanks to genealogy mapping, Deb and Linda have been able to find where the majority of the dead are actually buried.
“It is difficult with a cemetery like Winema,” said Tod. “It’s grassy and open, but you don’t want to bury anyone on top of somebody else.”
The markers are intended to assist visitors to the cemetery, families, history buffs, and volunteers who run the cemetery.
Deb and Tod, who have lived in Weed for more than 30 years, have a connection to the cemetery themselves.
“I have eight family members buried here, and I’ve got spots for me and Deb too,” Wilson said.
The cemeteries themselves are funded through endowments, meaning most upkeep, landscaping and maintenance falls in the hands of families with dead buried there, volunteers, or donations.
“A lot of the dead in that section of the cemetery are kids, and we felt like it was a good project to take on,” Wilson said.