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 Henry County Cemetery Commission Receives Foundation Grant

September 19, 2007 - How does a grant from the Community Foundation to the Henry County Cemetery Commission encourage tourism here? According to Cemetery Commission Board President Donna Tauber, genealogy brings a number of persons to Henry County each year researching their roots. Many of these people use our hotels, libraries and restaurants.

According to Tauber, pioneer cemeteries are cemeteries that had their first burials before the year 1850. Over a period of time, without proper maintenance of pioneer cemeteries, gravestones are vandalized and become covered with leaves and other vegetation until they disappear completely. When this happens, a major piece of local histories becomes lost to future generations. Cemeteries not only represent memorial marker to those who have passed, but can also provide the history of that person. Gravestones can indicate date of birth, date of death, military information and in many cases whom their parents, spouse and offspring were. This is the information that many genealogists come to Henry County to research.

Cemetery commission board member Ken Holmes said he has found the grave markers of deceased children never known to have existed with a family.

Most of the Pioneer Cemeteries are located off roadways and on hillsides so transporting supplies and equipment is difficult for the Cemetery Commission volunteers. The Cemetery Commission applied for and received $2,298.56 from the Unrestricted Fund for Community Grants at the Henry County Community Foundation this past spring. This funding allowed the Cemetery Commission to obtain a much needed Powerwagon (powered wheelbarrow) to assist in the transport of sand, gravel, soil, slot-boxes (bases for gravestones) and other materials and supplies. According to Holmes, he poured three slot boxes weighing 120 pounds each and used the Powerwagon to haul all three heavy gravestone bases at once to a remotely located Pioneer Cemetery. He noted the Powerwagon is much more convenient and allows him to haul five times the amount he could haul previously. The Cemetery Commission has already used the Powerwagon on several jobs this summer. One job required he park on the road, go up a lane, and through a corn field to reach the destination.

Another critical element needed in the cleaning and restoration process is water, which is not available at the cemeteries. Cleaning solution must be flushed from the stones. Holmes indicated they previously used buckets and jugs that are very difficult to carry by hand and you can only carry so much in your hands. The Foundation grant also paid for a portable water tank and sprayer… a huge improvement over hauling water jugs by hand.

The Cemetery Commission works with a number of Township Trustees to do cemetery restoration work. The Trustee’s budgets do not allow for major restoration. Many Pioneer Cemeteries have been abandoned. The Henry County Cemetery Commission is a non-funded entity and operates strictly by donations. This enables the Commission to pursue grant funding, educational programs and volunteer work days to help restore the county’s historical burial sites. Community volunteers recently utilized the Powerwagon and portable water tank and sprayer during Henry County United Fund Day of Caring to clean, repair and restore gravestones at the Hillsboro Cemetery.

Hillsboro Cemetery Trustee, Gene Clark, indicated some gravestone bases and planter bases have sunken down in the ground. Through the cleaning and retrieval process, he uncovered a name on the base of a planter that turned out to be a grave marker. Clark’s wife passed away four years ago and is buried in the Hillsboro Cemetery so there is a very personal significance for him. He indicated his appreciation for the Henry County Community Foundation for the Powerwagon and portable water tank and sprayer, Mt. Summit Fire Department for water, American Legion for flags, Wimmer Vaults for tents, Roto-Rooter for portable facilities, the numerous United Fund Day of Caring volunteers and the Cemetery Commission for their hard work and dedication to preserving Hillsboro Cemetery.

In a thank you note to the Henry County Community Foundation from the Henry County Cemetery Commission, Ann Holmes wrote, “We thank you for helping us restore and preserve the only footsteps that some of our ancestors left.” To find out more about the Cemetery Commission, go to www.hcgs.net/hccc/index.html.

The Henry County Community Foundation appreciates the generosity of donors who have made gifts to the Unrestricted Fund for Community Grants and urges continued support. The positive impact these grants have on Henry County is substantial. To improve grant-making and better meet the needs of Henry County, an increase in the assets of the Unrestricted Fund for Community Grants is needed.

Tax exempt donations of any size can be sent to the Henry County Community Foundation at 700 S. Memorial Drive, New Castle, IN 47362. To learn more about how you can make a lasting difference in Henry County, call 765/529-2235 or visit www.henrycountycf.org.

 

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