Background

Thursday, October 17, 2013

MY WORK TO PRESERVE A CEMETERY

A good friend of mine, Linda Limes Ellis, writes a blog entitled Exploring Almost Forgotten Gravesites in Ohio (which can be seen on the link under My Favorite Blogs on the right). We email frequently and I learned that she visited Walnut Creek Cemetery in Perry Township, Fayette County, Ohio, in mid-August of this year. Linda has many ancestors buried there. She was saddened by the dilapidated conditions of the cemetery.


I am a volunteer photographer for the Find-A-Grave website, the home of millions of memorials to ancestors around the country. I get emailed requests for photographs of different gravestones in the cemeteries in my area. On September 30th, I decided to fulfill some of the photo requests from Walnut Creek Cemetery, and check on the conditions she mentioned.

I found the conditions to be even worse than she had seen. I sent her many pictures of the sad sight I witnessed. Linda mentioned that the township trustees take care of the three cemeteries in their area. Therefore, I started my research. I just LOVE research and a challenge.

After two weeks of preparation, I made a storyboard of information and photos, and wrote an outline of a speech I decided to present to the trustees at their next meeting. Monday, October 14th was that meeting. During the public input after the general business, I set up my storyboard and presented my facts to them.

On the left side of the board were some of the photos taken by Linda in August at Walnut Creek. The photos on the right side are the ones I took on September 30 that show the conditions were worse one month later. In the center of the board, I posted a copy of the tax levy of 1.0 mil that is designated for their General Fund, copy from the Auditor's Office; a copy of the Plat of Perry Township of 1913 which shows the areas of land in my great-grandfather's name; a copy of a complaint letter sent to one of the trustees from Linda Ellis in August; and a copy of a story written about Joshua Wilson, a Revolutionary War Veteran buried in Walnut Creek Cemetery.

I told the trustees about my visit to Walnut Creek on September 30, my observation of a lot of overgrowth of weeds and grass, and many areas of dead grass covering and around gravemarkers. I reminded them of the complaint letter sent to one of the trustees, and the others said they had never seen it, so they read it from my board.

I did not just complain about the conditions, but offered them a possible solution to the problem. The Community Service workers (from court convictions) are free labor offered by the Probation Department for any township in Fayette County.

I requested that better care be taken of this cemetery, on behalf of all the relatives of those buried there, and that more respect be paid to our ancestors, who are our heritage.

The presiding trustee offered to call the probation office and arrange for some labor assistance to clean up the trash, debris, and dead grass covering the stones. I learned today that those arrangements are now being made for Friday of this week or Monday of next week. I look forward to learning that the work has been completed and I will gladly take new photos of the improvements.

I am pleased that my two-week preparatory work and my request, backed up by facts and photos, was taken to heart and something will be done about the complaints.

1 comment:

Linda Jean Limes Ellis said...

Hi Gail. Thank you so much for all of your help with Walnut Creek Cemetery. Your visits, photographs and presentation to the township trustees has made a significant step forward for the improved care and conditions of this cemetery which is Fayette County's oldest active cemetery. I have been visiting it since 1981 and have seen its decline. Now, thanks to your efforts that will be reversed!