Historic cemetery gets grant to find lost graves
by Tiffany Pakkala
Florida Times-Union
December 06, 2012 12:01 AM | 826 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ST. MARYS — St. Marys’ historic Oak Grove Cemetery has hundreds of unmarked graves, but soon some of those lost graves may be reclaimed.

Thanks to a $7,500 Historic Preservation Division grant, a ground-penetrating radar machine is going to be brought in for a survey of the “old section” that dates back more than 200 years.

The device is about the size of a lawn mower, Kay Westberry, chairwoman of the Oak Grove Cemetery Study Committee, told the City Council Monday. The hope is that it will reveal grave markers that have disappeared under leaves and dirt over the years.

The grant will include $4,500 from the division and $3,000 from the city, which can be in-kind services the city can get reimbursed for through the state, Westberry said.

City Council member Greg Bird said he had reservations about disturbing sacred ground.

But Westberry said it would not involve any digging. It may result in future work to uncover grave markers, she said, but the point of the survey is to find out what the next step should be in caring for the cemetery.

The council unanimously approved a resolution in support of the grant.

Since Westberry and her committee have begun work at the once-deteriorating cemetery grounds, they have not only made many repairs but also uncovered a number of historic graves and the stories that go with them. Among those buried in the cemetery, there are Acadians, soldiers from every major war and full families who fell victim to yellow fever.
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