Sunday, July 25, 2004

Forgotten cemeteries need care

Workshop organizers note unknown family plots abound

By P.G. Sittenfeld
Enquirer contributor

Tom Geimeier cleans a marker in the Old Burlington Cemetery during a workshop Saturday.
The Enquirer/TONY JONES
BURLINGTON - Cleanliness was next to godliness Saturday at the Old Burlington Cemetery.

The Boone County Historic Preservation Review Board and the Kentucky Historical Society conducted a free workshop in gravestone restoration and preservation at the cemetery off Bullittsville Road.

"It's important to take care of and dignify people's final resting place," said Matt Becher, who organized the morning workshop.

The how-to taught participants the proper way to fix, set, scrub and epoxy gravestones.

Attendees got on their hands and knees to clean some of Old Burlington's most neglected gravestones. Among tips they picked up: Never apply soap on a gravestone, which can cause deposits to form on the stones, and always use a brush with soft bristles.

One participant, Terri Rice Disque, 42, attended to learn how to restore a family cemetery that she and her father, Buddy,discovered three months ago. Most of the gravestones there had sunk beneath the soil under a cover of thickets. Among those recently unearthed gravestones was that of her great-great-great-grandfather, Benjamin Rice, who was born in 1824.

"It's my heritage," said Disque, a lifelong resident of Burlington. "This is about honoring my ancestors."

Workshop organizers wanted to raise awareness about old cemeteries in the area. Of the 175 known graveyards in Boone County, most are small family plots. Becher speculated that there are probably 100 more undocumented cemeteries in the county.

"Some of us joke that when we want to cheer up, we come to the Old Burlington Cemetery. It's just so peaceful and beautiful," said Jan Garbett, another workshop organizer.

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