On May 11th the Novelty Hill Cemetery Association held its first cemetery clean up and picnic. Thirty men, women and children came together to scrub headstones, remove overgrown or dead shrubs, pull weeds, and give much needed T.L.C. to the 1902 cemetery south of Duvall.
Just like the rest of Cherry Valley and its people, the cemetery has a unique and charming history. The majority of cemeteries in the United States are privately owned and operated by corporations. The rest are either church owned, family owned or government owned. This makes the small and peaceful Novelty Hill Cemetery something of an oddity in that it is a nonprofit relying entirely upon the stewardship of local residents.
The cemetery is in the hands of The Novelty Hill Cemetery Association, a non-profit organization made up of volunteers. They are dedicated to the preservation, maintenance, and operation of what remains Cherry Valley’s largest cemetery.
Last year Country Marilyn Roney stepped into the role of Sexton, the traditional name for a cemetery manager or steward. With an average service term of 30 years between the other board members, Country found herself in a group of dedicated men and women full of knowledge and information about the 117-year-old cemetery.
“Larry Pickering is our Vice President and a fourth generation Duvall native,” according to Country. When I first started volunteering for the cemetery Larry told me that his family used to come to the cemetery to clean it up and have a meal each spring. It’s just how things were done—it’s how this place was maintained.
When I took over, I assured him we are bringing the tradition back!”
On the day of the cleanup, family members of those buried in the cemetery as well as community members, shared buckets, brushes, and power tools to clear as much as they could on a Saturday morning. At the end of the event there was a potluck and burgers on the grill.
Country intends to hold the event again next year, hopefully with more people and elbow grease. “It’s such a satisfying thing to do,” she said. “I’m really grateful that I get to do this kind of work.”
The Novelty Hill Cemetery board members include Country Marilyn Roney, Sexton; Marco Barba, President; Larry Pickering, Vice-President; Janetta Pickering, Secretary; and Harry Oestreich, Treasurer. For more information call 206-234-1581.
Reprinted with permission of the Duvall Historical Society, www.duvallhistoricalsociety.org