|David & Son Tree Service volunteers to clean up local cemetery|
Earlier this year Clark County Cemetery Commission President David Abbott was contacted by a concerned citizen, Jennifer Kennedy, regarding an abandoned cemetery located on Lena Bower Road in New Washington.
“Jennifer had grown up across the street from this cemetery and had serious concerns about the upkeep. She contacted me after seeing one of my posts on a social media site to see what the Clark County Cemetery Commission could do to help,” stated Abbott.
The cemetery is located on private property but the owners were gracious to allow the Cemetery Commission access to check out the cemetery. Abbott met Kennedy earlier this year to see the cemetery and what needed to be done to care for those almost forgotten loved ones.
According to Kennedy, one of the lost loved ones is a Little Drummer Boy from the Revolutionary War. William Lawreng joined the Revolutionary Forces at the age of 12. He is buried in the cemetery along side his wife, Katharine and their child. William died in 1822 while Katharine died in 1816.
After surveying the cemetery and what needed to be done, Abbott contacted David Henderson about cleaning up the cemetery.
“I ran into Dave (Abbott) and told him I could help. I live in Clark County and want to give back. This is the way I can give back,” Henderson stated standing near the cemetery after his crew had begun cleaning up on Friday morning, April 17. “I told Dave if I could help him out we would. So, I volunteered to come do it.
Abbott agreed with Henderson.
“I was at a ballgame at New Washington and ran into David. He was very quick to offer his help if the Cemetery Commission needed it in the future. I just smiled at him and told him I already had a cemetery that he could help us out with,” Abbott added with a grin. “I told him what I knew about the cemetery and how it needed some TLC and attention. He was quick to say he'd take care of it.”
Abbott continued, “Once David agreed to help us out, the weather decided not to cooperate. We have had so much rain and snow that David had to wait for the cemetery to dry out a little to be able to go in and clean it up. He called me Friday morning and said he was on his way. I was very thankful for his dedication to the cause.”
After David & Son Tree Service cleared the cemetery, there seems to be at least six grave sites.
Kennedy and her family, mother Mary Jo Cain and father, “John Henry” Cain, have researched the cemetery for years. According to their research, William and Katharine should have been neighbors to Jesse Henley, who owned the first deed written off George Rogers Clark's deed.
Kennedy recalls descendants of the Lawreng family visiting the cemetery on different occasions. She remembers the tombstones still standing upright as late as the last decade or so.
“I remember this being a really tall stone when I was a kid,” Kennedy stated as she worked to put some pieces of William's stone together on Friday morning, April 17. “My mom knows all the history of the cemetery. There is so much history here.”
Henderson agreed. “It's sad to see this,” as he looked out over the tombstones that had fallen throughout the years. “There is so much history here and here we are. It makes me sad.”
Besides the Lawreng family, there are three stones still standing located behind and to the left of William and Katharine's stones. These stones are plain with no information. It is believed these stones could belong to servants.
Kennedy was grateful to see the cemetery getting some attention and care.
“I contacted David because of his Facebook post. I was excited to see someone taking an interest in these forgotten places. Each has a story, they are part of our history, and history is so very important,” Kennedy stated. “I am thankful to David Abbott for taking on the cause, easing public awareness and getting the public motivated to find, clean and restore cemeteries of Clark County.”
Kennedy concluded, “Sadly some (cemeteries) have been lost or destroyed over time, my hope is that people will come forward, with locations and knowledge of unknown cemeteries. It is vitally important to identify and chart these locations, so no more are lost.”
Abbott agreed with Kennedy.
“These cemeteries are our history. We are here because of those that settled this area before us. We cannot forget our ancestors and what they fought for to enable us to make this area our home. We need to always remember and never forget our lost loved ones. The places they are laid to rest are sacred and need to be respected. We need to be sure these cemeteries are not lost on our next generation,” Abbott added.
He continued, “The Clark County Cemetery Commission's mission is not necessarily to clean these lost cemeteries, but to preserve and protect. As the President, with an approving Board, I have reached out to the community for help in cleaning up the almost forgotten cemeteries. We have always been grateful for those organizations and individuals that have jumped in to help us. I cannot thank everyone enough for all their dedication. Just like this one, David, was right there to help. We have had Boy Scout Troops, local businesses and local citizens come to the Cemetery Commission's aid when we have reached out for help.”
Abbott concluded, “I would like to personally thank David Henderson and his company, David & Son Tree Service, along with his crew member, Gary Howell, for volunteering to clean up this cemetery. I went up Friday afternoon to see that had been done. They did a fantastic job cleaning up the thicket that engulfed the cemetery. I also want to thank Jennifer Kennedy and her family for contacting the Cemetery Commission about their concerns with the cemetery.”
If you would like more information about the Clark County Cemetery Commission or have concerns about a cemetery please contact David Abbott at 502-931-4669.
“We would love to invite anyone that may have any concerns regarding local cemeteries in Clark County to our next meeting. As President of the Clark County Cemetery Commission, I would welcome them to come and voice their concerns. We know there are cemeteries in Clark County that need some TLC,” Abbott concluded.
For more information about David & Son Tree Service please contact David Henderson at 812-293-3343.