Pioneer Cemetery is less than an acre of land on North Main Street in Evans, but it serves as the final resting place for some 300 souls.
Some of the town’s earliest settlers are buried here.
So are at least three Revolutionary War veterans, and others who fought in the Civil War.
Folk artist and Evans native Asa Ames is buried here, too.
Now, this important piece of town history has been placed on both the state and national registers of historic places.
“It should be,” said Joe Pisarski, the town historian and president of the Town of Evans Historical Society, “just because of all the veterans and early pioneers buried there.”
The cemetery was named both a state and national landmark last year, but local officials in October gathered at Pioneer Cemetery to mark the historic designations.
The landmark status secures the town’s heritage for future generations, while allowing for the possibility of grant funding to preserve the cemetery, said Supervisor Keith E. Dash.
Once called Evans Center Cemetery, the burial ground was founded in 1810 with the grave of little Sawyer Barrell, the 2-year-old son of one of the town’s early settlers, according to historical records.
An inventory shows a list of roughly 300 names on this rustic piece of property. Some may be memorials, others are gravestones for more than one person. Most date back to earlier than 1860.
The cemetery’s grave markers are laid out in uneven rows. Many have simple headstones, the engraved names and dates of the deceased weathered by time.
Burials continued at Pioneer until 1928, when Loren Avery, a descendent of one of the area’s founding settlers, was laid to rest.
Eventually, the original owners – the Methodist and Congregational churches that had been located next to the cemetery – abandoned the property.
Upkeep fell to volunteers and the town, Pisarski said.
Dash and Town Planning Director Sandra Brant were among those seeking historic designation for the 200-year-old cemetery.
“It really was Keith’s idea,” Brant said. “At the end of 2010, we started to work on the nomination application.”
The town filed an application with the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, which reviewed the request, granted the state designation last November, then nominated the cemetery for the National Register of Historic Places.
The national status for the cemetery soon followed.
The town still mows the grass, but last year the Historical Society took over the job of trying to get the cemetery back into shape, including erecting and repairing the fallen gravestones.
“We have a big job ahead of us, but we have a good, dedicated group of volunteers and are moving along,” Pisarski said. “It’s the least we can do.”