PITTSTON — The tombstones and grave markers belong in the Pittston City Cemetery; the weeds and brush covering up many of them don’t.
This Saturday and Sunday, the Greater Pittston Historical Society will hold a cleanup of the grounds beginning at 8 a.m. and the organization is looking for additional help.
Ron Faraday of the historical society has relatives buried there and is organizing the project. It’s personal and also a point of pride to him.
Faraday, 47, of Old Forge, took part in the Civil War-themed tour of the Hollenback Cemetery in Wilkes-Barre and thought about holding a walking tour on the grounds of the property bordering Swallow and Vine streets.
But after he returned to Pittston and set foot on the property, he knew something had to be done.
“I said, ‘Oh my God, we can’t have a walking tour,’ ” he said Thursday during a walk on which he pointed out overgrowth, toppled headstones and needed repairs.
The property is owned by the Oddfellows Society and has between 20 to 45 acres, depending upon the newspaper articles Faraday said he read. A caretaker works on the grounds, but concentrates mainly on the area where the newer graves are located.
The cemetery dates back to the 1860s and contains an unknown number of grave sites.
“I don’t know if anybody knows that,” Farady said.
But he knows Albert West is buried there. Across the street is the park named after him. The city named five parks after soldiers killed in World War I.
Three victims of the Avondale mine disaster in Plymouth and 15 victims of the Eagle Shaft disaster in Pittston are also interred in the cemetery.
Faraday pointed out the weathered granite headstone marking the grave of 40-year-old Robert Haston.
“This gentleman died in the Twin Shaft disaster but he’s still down there,” Faraday said. Haston’s body was not recovered after the cave-in at the mine in Pittston on June 28, 1896.
Pittston City is assisting with the project. A work detail from the Naval Reserve Center will be on hand, along with about a dozen volunteers from the historical society. Faraday is still looking for additional help as well as lawn equipment and supplies. A list is available on the historical society’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/GreaterPittstonHistoricalSociety.
Other cleanup dates are tentatively set for weekends in October and November to prepare for a re-dedication on Veterans Day, Nov. 11.