“We (MHMA) help maintain Mars Hill Cemetery,” said Regina Richards, who spearheaded the grid project. The Acworth resident is married to Jimi, president of MHMA. She is the treasurer.
The new grid is posted online and identifies the sections where each gravesite is located. Section and row markers will be soon be placed so that visitors can easily locate specific gravesites in the 7-acre cemetery founded in 1837.
“People working on the genealogies often made inquiries. We had a lot of people who would call and want to know where a family member might be. I would know the general area but it was hard to explain to somebody,” Regina said.
Most of the time Regina marked off the plot in question with stakes and ribbons so that the person inquiring would know where to look.
“The grid makes it faster,” she said.
It took six months for Regina to complete the grid. In the new section of the cemetery, the plots are marked in uniform 10 by 10-feet lots. The old section was particularly difficult because the plots were not uniform and were different sizes.
“A lot could be 8 by 8 or it could be out of line, and it would be bigger than it should be,” she said.
Working off of a card table, Regina moved around the cemetery matching plots to a plat.
“We were there every day,” said Regina, who was assisted by volunteer Angel Johnson.
“We looked at what was written on (the plat). Just because someone’s name was written on it didn’t mean they were buried there,” she said.
“If something didn’t look right, we were always back over there measuring. We had tape measures and we’d measure off something and then we’d have to calculate if something wasn’t measuring up right and shift things over,” she said.
“There was a lot of writing down and going, ‘that doesn’t look right,’ and erasing and redoing,” she said.
The grid project preserves history for the future. “If anyone later on wanted to find somebody and I wasn’t around anymore, (the plat) would be marked and they would have an area to go look. You could wander around in the cemetery forever unless somebody points you in the direction to go look,” Regina said.
MHMA, formerly the Mars Hill Graveyard Association, according to Mars Hill Presbyterian Church history, operates today as a separate nonprofit organization. Visit www.mhchurch.com/mhchurch/mars_hill_cemetery and click the link for Details on Gravesites to see the grid. See also a link to photos of headstones. Follow MHMA on Facebook for more information.