Volunteers clean headstones in a historic area of Prairie Grove​ Cemetery

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PRAIRIE GROVE, Ark. (KNWA) — Over a dozen volunteers spent the day at the Prairie Grove Cemetery polishing up old headstones, some belonging to veterans and some to local historical figures.

“If we don’t do it who will,” ​for Marvin Rice, an airforce veteran,  born and raised in Prairie Grove, he said this is his way to give back to the place he calls home.​​ “I’m getting to an age where history is more important than it ever was​.”

​Rice is joined by his grand-daughter Leann Cook. ​

“This place matters, this cemetery matters. There’s a lot of people buried in this cemetery, and we wouldn’t be here without all of these people,” Cook said.

​Cook is the President of the newly formed Prairie Grove Historical Society, a group of people who are passionate about preserving the history of the town.​

“It’s important to honor the people who were the first to settle in this place and fought for this place,”​​ Cook said.

Volunteers are working in the historic area of the Prairie Grove cemetery armed with a brush and all of the tools they need to get rid of algae, mold or any mud accumulated on the headstones​.

Many of the volunteers say they have deep roots in Washington county. ​”My mother’s grandfather is one of the first people to settle here,” Rice said.

Washington County Cemetery Preservation, board member Bob Young provided all of the tools used to clean the headstones, one of his many passions. “In Northwest Arkansas people settled in 1806 and my family came in 1830. I have ancestors buried in Washington county and Benton county.​​

Some of the headstones date back to the 1800s. ​Cook said she is glad to see people come out to the organization’s first community outreach event. 

“This town has grown a lot and we want to teach people who have lived here their whole life about its rich history and newcomers,” Cook said.

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