Region 8 couple renovates abandoned, historic cemetery
LUNSFORD, Ark. (KAIT) -A couple is taking it upon themselves to renovate a cemetery listed on the Arkansas Registry of Historic Places after it was abandoned when the cemetery committee members passed away years ago.
The childhood memory for Jerry Rodgers, the cemetery’s current caretaker, turned into a helping hand, bringing the Wilson Cemetery in Lunsford back to its’ respectable shape one headstone at a time.
“I remember seeing the cemetery a lot when I was a kid just coming by, seeing the shape they had it in out here," Rodgers said.
At the beginning of the new year, Jerry and his wife, Ginger, noticed the gravesite off into a field on County Road 828 with tall grass and headstones knocked over, seeping underground.
“I knew that if something didn’t get done pretty quick, that it would just be left continue to grow up," Rodgers said.
The cemetery was left to grow up with history left behind, such as the graves of American Civil War, World War I and II heroes, and dozens of children, aged between infants and 13-years-old, who died during an influenza, malaria, typhoid, and smallpox epidemic from 1900-1938, according to Mr. Rodgers.
The couple says they’re working with a monument company to fix the headstones, a company out of Little Rock to bring a ground-penetrating radar to detect unmarked graves underground, and Craighead County Judge Marvin Day to bring in gravel for the road to and around the cemetery to help keep it from flooding.
“Although we may not know the name, we can just still get some type of a marker down to remember that person," Rodgers said.
Thanks to a Facebook page created by Ginger, family members of the deceased are now reaching out to connect back to their family’s history, showing them their loved one’s burial plot.
“We were able to take her and show [her] where [her] family is buried at out here, and upon her looking more, she realized she had some more family out here," Jerry says, with excitement.
The couple says the research and getting their hands dirty is all for one goal, remembering the ones left behind.
Mr. Rodgers said they hope to have a clean-up day in the spring, but are open to anyone wanting to help them clean the cemetery on the weekends.
For more details on how to help, you can message Jerry and Ginger Rodgers here.
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