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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Cemeteries - Restoring the Past

On a recent visit to Shelbyville, I went to the beautiful Fairland Cemetery to visit the family plot. This cemetery has been well maintained and always seems the same. No missing stones, no broken or cracked stones (that I know of), it is always a lovely peaceful place.

Other cemeteries in the county are not so fortunate. I also have ancestors in the old Brandywine Cemetery just outside Fairland. It was once a beautiful cemetery, but time has taken its toll and the number of broken and missing stones grows larger every year. Even though it is well-maintained and kept neat, the location of the cemetery seems to have helped its decline. It is off the main road and seems to have been vandalized many times over the years. It is a sad situation.

There is a new movement in Shelby County to restore many of these old, decayed cemeteries. The Webb Cemetery is currently being redone with the help of volunteers led by Julie Bielefeld. Julie and husband, Jon, restored the Lisher Cemetery. The Lisher Cemetery, filled with my ancestors who moved to Shelby County in its early days, is a small piece of heaven on earth. Every time I visit the cemetery, a great sense of peace and happiness fills me. This is how I want to feel when I visit the old cemeteries in Shelby County.

Unfortunately, there are so many who make me feel sad, frustrated and even angry when I see they have been vandalized. A reader told me that the Parrish Cemetery is in need of help, another said the Old Boggstown Cemetery was in bad shape. I know the small Williams Cemetery, not far from the big casino just north of Shelbyville is in serious decline. There are so many that need our help.

With genealogy becoming immensely popular today, the urge to travel and visit the homes of our ancestors is growing. Many people come to Shelby County to find their ancestors. I know the routine well! Researchers visit the Genealogy Library (Genie House) first. Next, they read the obituaries and find the details of their ancestor’s life and death. They discover where their ancestor is buried by checking the wonderful cemetery books that detail most (if not all) of the Shelby County burials. They usually ask the staff (and it’s a GREAT staff!) how to find the cemetery. Once they reach the cemetery, they are either awed or dismayed…..

If you would be interested in contributing a donation to the cemetery restoration project, or would like to volunteer for their next project, please get in touch with me. I’ll send you information on how to do both.

The restoration of the old cemeteries will continue to be discussed in this blog. Stay tuned for further updates.