A cemetery restoration project is preserving history and connecting Zeigler-Royalton High School students with their community’s past.
Students in Z-R teacher Jaime Moyers’ classes are partnering with Six Mile Township officials to clean up and restore Osage Cemetery, one of the oldest cemeteries in western Franklin County.
The cemetery has been maintained by the township since the mid-1940s but many of the old stones have fallen into disrepair because of their age. Some are piled together, leaving graves unmarked.
Six Mile trustee Scott Fiss said the cemetery has stones dating back to the 1700s.
“When I was a kid, I used to come here and look around a lot at the older monuments. Some of them are unreadable now. That’s why it’s important to get this done now, so we have a record of who is buried here,” he said.
Another goal is to get the stones back where they belong, said township office administrator Audrey Bernstein.
“We want to get them placed where they should be,” she said. “We also want to find out what history is out there. We’d like to know the history of the families buried here and find what veterans there are. We think there are a few Civil War veterans.”
The students traveled to the southwest corner of the county Friday to work in the cemetery with township officials. Carrying brushes, the students carefully gave each stone a good cleaning, then documented the information engraved on the marker.
The students will take the information back to the classroom and begin their research.
“I love doing stuff like this,” student Jared Eastwood said as he brushed one of the stones. “I think you get to learn more this way.”
Using volunteer labor and equipment, the township will begin resetting dozens of stones this summer, said supervisor Ted Dollins.
“The township board decided to take on this project to give the cemetery the attention it needs,” he said.