Rhodes Anabaptist-Mennonite Cemetery
In the beginning of 2017, an association was formed for the preservation of the Anabaptist-Mennonite cemetery in Rhodes, France. It had become overgrown, some gravestones were leaning badly, the back wall had deteriorated, and nameplates were missing.
The land on which the Rhodes cemetery was created belonged to the Pelsy family. Three descendants of Jacob Pelsy had inherited the land: Christian, Jacob and Nicolas, who are buried there with their wives, Catherine Abresol, Madeleine Schertz and Barbe Abresol. They are three of the fifteen children of Christian Pelsy and Catherine Werckler who did not emigrate to America. All three had homes in Rhodes. Among surnames found on the site are: Pelsy, Abresol, Hirschy, Wagler. (Jean-Paul Pelsy)
As one would expect, members of the Pelsy family initiated the preservation work, and after contacting descendants and interested parties in both Europe and the U.S., funds were donated toward the project. During 2017 several goals were met:
- Members of the executive and a few volunteers cleared the brush, cut down the trees and straightened the tombstones.
- The Rhodes municipality committed to build a parking lot in front of the cemetery with appropriate drainage pipes on the whole width of the site.
- A lecture on September 9, 2017 was held in one of the halls at the Parc Animalier Sainte Croix in Rhodes. Mr. Pierre Singer, director of the park, offered free use of the hall. There were about 60 people in attendance, several registering as members of the association, which puts membership at 25.
Below are photos received showing the cemetery before work began, and work progressing during the year.