With trimmers and cleaners in hand, volunteers filled the tiny, overgrown Concord Township cemetery on Millerstown Road near River Road on Saturday morning.
The effort – called The Heritage Project – is part of a larger plan to recognize, mark and, when necessary, restore the burial grounds.
The co-chairs of the Heritage Project are Champaign County Historical Society representative Joe Rizzutti, Urbana Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution representative Janet Ebert and Champaign County Bullskin Trail representative Amanda McCall.
Saturday was the first “work day” for the new project and volunteers from three community organizations descended on the tiny graveyard that is loosely known as the “Kenton Pioneer Cemetery” because Simon Kenton’s brother William Kenton is buried within it. William Kenton was a Revolutionary War soldier and his grave was marked by the Urbana chapter of the DAR many years ago.
In addition to The Heritage Project co-chairs, Eric and Mary Putnam are providing photography and recording skills. Mapping assistance is being provided through the County Engineer’s Office and Doug Crabill of the city of Urbana.
Several local historians and genealogists are also contributing their resources.
The goals of the project are:
-To discover and identify all of the burial grounds and cemeteries in Champaign County and to record any that are not on extant lists.
-To visit and determine the status, needs and extent of restoration that may be required of each.
-To clean up and/or restore each cemetery to the best of the groups’ abilities.
-To note and respect the persons buried in the cemetery, especially any veterans, and their recognition as such, and to record any not listed.
Most of these efforts will not include major cemeteries such as Oak Dale, Evergreen, Maple Grove and Woodstock. The number of local burial sites is probably around 170.
An additional expectation is to provide signage for each cemetery as it is identified. To this end, some funds have been provided for the signs, but additional funds are being sought for their installation.
The Heritage Project first considered making Buck Creek Cemetery in Union Township its primary site to improve. But after visiting Buck Creek Cemetery, the volunteers deemed it was in good shape with neatly stacked stones placed by Richard Evans many years ago. Evans placed the stones in the order he remembered them from in his childhood.
The DAR is considering placement of a marker at the Buck Creek Cemetery in the future. It does not have a sign, but Union Township trustees have approved placing one there.
To coordinate the project, the DAR is providing information about graveyards and maps of cemeteries; the Champaign County Historical Society is suggesting areas in need of restoration; and the Bullskin Trail Scouts will provide the “heavy lifting” and manual labor, such as mowing, digging, planting grass seed, replacing items, clearing brush and weeding.
More volunteers are welcome to join the project. For more information, contact Dr. Jan Ebert at 653-3440 or email@example.com.