Walking through a cemetery or having concern for one is not something most people ever think about. It is ususally one place that is far from the concerns of many. But, if anyone has lost a loved family member or friend the cemetery can be a place of many emotions. It can also be a source of much information and history.
My husband and I like to pursue family genealogy and for that reason we often find ourselves in a cemetery with a camera in hand. We may be on a search for an ancestor in our family tree or a request from someone else trying to make a family connection. On one such afternoon in the fall we wandered into the Old Liberty Cemetery and were surprised and saddened to see the state of disrepair it was in. Stones were broken, downed and toppled; bushes were overgrown; there was litter, garbage and even mattresses in makeshift campsites.
With concern for the resting place of former Liberty folks, we decided we were going to bring this disrepair to the concern of others. It was obvious this cemetery had been neglected for years and we were on a mission to right this. In my mind I thought, “Liberty has lost it’s soul”……this needed to change!
For weeks in the spring, my husband took his wheelbarrow, rake, energy and concern to tear away at the bramble and brush covering these old stones. Little by little progress was made in reclaiming a 100 year old piece of sacred ground.
Liberty’s cultural heritage was gradually emerging through faded stones and moss-covered faces. Familiar names were revealing themselves….the Manions, Dubois’s, and Reddingtons …. with questions…..Where did they live? How did they live? What was their history in Liberty?
A reclamation effort was begun in Liberty! Benjamin Franklin recognized the importance of cemetery reclamation efforts to a country’s cultural heritage and once said, “show me first the graveyards of a country and I will tell you the true character of the people”.
I know and believe that the true character of the people of Liberty is noble and true. When we contacted Brian Rourke, Elton Harris, Anthony Perito, the Knights of Columbus and Veterns groups there was much concern to right the years of neglect. These individuals know that our history is important and neglect needs to be corrected.
A reclamation professional once said, “think about how many tears have been shed and how many prayers have been said right here where I’m at…..that is the importance of restoring these old places”. In our efforts we read the stones of Pvt. Frederick William Hosier – US Army WWI and Nicholas D. Maffett – Capt. 25th NY Cavalry Civil War, both men, Liberty residents who served our country.
In light of this continued effort there is a clean-up day scheduled for Saturday, June 23rd at 10am. If you are concerned about this effort feel free to join us. Bring your energy & concern for a worthwhile project !