Preserving Clarks Green Cemetery history

June 19th, 2015 9:10 am

First Posted: 5/20/2014

Warren Watkins knows where just about everyone is buried in the Clarks Green Cemetery. More than three decades managing the manicured acres has made him somewhat of an expert.

Watkins’ involvement came about after he purchased a lot in the cemetery.

“When you do that, you become a member of the association, thus the saga of my life within the cemetery,” he said. “Also, my grandparents, uncles and my parents are buried in Clarks Green, which is all the more devotion by me to see that it is maintained.

“To make a long story short, I ended up managing the cemetery,” he said.

In 1974, Watkins was employed by the International Salt Company, but when the cemetery association’s board of directors was looking for a manager, he conceded and agreed to help for a year.

“I finally said I’d do it for a year” he said. His initial intent, “was to help to get the cemetery on solid ground the best he could. I’m still there.”

Watkins strives to maintain the land that is the final resting place for many prominent people who had a lot to do with the development of Clarks Green and Clarks Summit.

The cemetery is managed by the Clarks Green Cemetery Association, which was incorporated in 1865, and is both the birthplace of Clarks Green Borough and the final resting place of its founder, Deacon William Clark and approximately 24 members of his family. The total number of grave sites in the cemetery he estimates is 3,000, based on cemetery records, but Watkins said the actual number of graves is unknown.

“That’s a difficult question to answer because some people were buried in wooden boxes and they’ve never had a monument on them,” he said.

When he assumed the role as manager in the 1970s, Watkins said the land was somewhat in disrepair.

“The roads were all dirt. I cleaned some of the trees out and paved the roads,” he said. “The stone walls had fallen down. A lot of the (head) stones had fallen down.”

How does Watkins feel about caring for the cemetery that is so rich in history?

“It was meant to be and something God had planned for me, I suppose,” he said. “It’s enjoyable, because there’s so much history over there. … People who were related to the Clarks continued to reside and develop this little community as it is today. I can see how the Clarks got here. This is such a nice place.”