Gary Berreth has volunteered hundreds of hours pulling weeds and cleaning tombstones at the historic Liberty Pioneer Cemetery in Galt, where many of the city’s founders are buried.
He and his wife, Peggy, were recently recognized for their efforts and named Volunteers of the Year by the Galt Area Historical Society at its annual charter night.
The town of Liberty, located just south of Galt in San Joaquin County, became a ghost town when the Central Pacific Railroad decided to make Galt its stop in 1869, according to the historical society.
Shortly thereafter, the town disbanded and the post office moved to Galt.
Before then, Liberty was a stagecoach stop on the road from San José to Sacramento, at the corner of Liberty and Lower Sacramento roads, records show.
However, many Galtonians consider Liberty to be part of their city’s roots, as the cemetery is the final resting place for pioneers and early settlers of the area.
Because of that, the historical society maintains the cemetery, preserves intact headstones and maintains a list of those interred there through donations. It also owns the 5-acre site.
The historical society provides these names for no charge, instead accepting donations to help defray costs.
They also rely on volunteers such as the Berreths to keep the property grounds neat. Several years ago, the cemetery was re-fenced, thanks to the work of Tom Champion, a Galt High shop teacher, and local Boy Scouts.
Liberty Cemetery was erected in 1852 and is open to the public. Today, there is a marker indicating that the Liberty Cemetery is a California Point of Historical Interest at the Liberty Road exit on Highway 99.
Also at the late October charter night event, the Historical Society named former Galt Mayor Randy Shelton president and chose its new officers.
Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at email@example.com.