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Preserving the county’s historic cemeteries

Preservation society spends day clearing brush and vines at Homer Cemetery

November 29, 2012
The Daily Freeman Journal

Working off a Thanksgiving meal wasn't exactly the motivation for a small group of volunteers on Saturday, but the hard work of cutting and clearing brush had to have helped.

The Hamilton County Cemetery Preservation Society held a workday at the Homer Cemetery and discovered gravestones and markers concealed by mulberry trees, gooseberry bushes, cedar trees, and cat briar vines. It might be better named a workout day.

Society members, Linda Wilde, Chad Eells, Cathy Dayton and James Bergeson Jr. were responsible for the improvements on Saturday.

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Members of the Hamilton County Cemetery Preservation Society cleared away brush, vines and bushes at Homer Cemetery last weekend. That work lead to the location of hidden and covered headstones.

Society President Cathy Dayton and her husband James have spent hours taking photographs of grave markers in area cemeteries, concentrating on stones that have been nearly lost. Together they have crawled through many of the thickets to record the images. As a result of the work on Saturday, Dayton uncovered a long hidden stone for 1-year-old Isabel Williams.

Formed in March of 2012, the Hamilton County Cemetery Preservation Society has a goal of preserving historical headstones in at least four pioneer cemeteries in the county. This includes hosting public gatherings for people to learn more about these cemeteries, and doing some of the chores of cleaning up or resetting fallen or broken stones, cutting brush that hides and damages stones, and getting signs to help people find these out of the way graves.

"The group does not replace the work of the township trustees who have the official responsibility for these pioneer cemeteries, but finds plenty of additional ways to help," said Doug Bailey, county supervisor and advisor for the group.

Although much more work remains to be done, a small group of determined volunteers can make a difference in a short period of time and the results can be very satisfying.

"Making our cemeteries easy to find helps heritage tourists who may have traveled great distances to locate graves from their ancestors," said Catherine Bergman, SEED executive director.

Those interested in being notified by email about the next cemetery workday or Society meeting, please email Catherine Bergman at to be put on a notification list. Many volunteers are needed who can help drag away branches, some to use lopers and rakes, and a few who have small chainsaws to use in cutting small trees and brush.



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