NEWTON TOWNSHIP - Members of the Newton Falls Cemetery Association and the Pricetown United Methodist Church joined forces recently to repair broken and overturned cemetery markers at the township's oldest cemetery, which is at the corner of Pritchard-Ohltown Road (Countyline Road) and North River Road.
Kay Gary of the Newton Falls Cemetery Association said all the markers, including very large ones, have been repaired and leveled due to the efforts of the volunteers.
Last fall, the work began after the cemetery association was contacted by Dixie Locke of the church.
"She called us about the Rev. James Boyd's tombstone being on the ground," Gary said. "They were worried because the marker and many others were laying on the ground or falling over. Some were leaning over and others were broken. She asked if we could do something."
Gary and Ed Hoerig of the association came and looked at the situation to see what could be done.
"We fixed that marker," Gary said. "There were other markers laying against trees and laying on the ground. We had tombstones stuck in holes. They were everywhere."
Gary and Hoerig were able to fix the markers, and Dixie Locke was asked to get volunteers from the church to help with the project.
"I told her if we could get more volunteers, we could do more work at the cemetery,'' Gary said.
In 1808, a Presbyterian church was established at the location. Years later, the Newton Falls Pricetown Methodist Church was established there.
The cemetery is the oldest in the township, Gary said.
Gary said last fall after work was done some of the markers were sealed to prevent water from getting in and causing them to crack and fall apart. Hoerig sealed Boyd's marker, which was from 1813.
Of the markers at the cemetery, five were from before 1813. The cemetery has 145 markers including seven Revolutionary War veterans, eight War of 1812 veterans and one Civil War veteran. Gary said there are some unknown soldiers graves at the cemetery.
While men from the church worked on fixing the markers, several women recorded the data from each marker to update the cemetery records, which Gary said are lacking before 1935.
"People at the church were delighted that someone took the interest to fix the cemetery," Gary said.
She said the township started taking care of the cemetery in the 1890s.
Hoerig was able to sandstone the broken markers and put them back on their original base. He was able to raise the basins up and put the markers back on.
Mary Lou O'Lear, one of the volunteers, said the work done by the many volunteers was amazing.
"I was sitting in my van looking at the cemetery and was so amazed how nice it looks with all the markers standing," O'Lear said. "Thank goodness we have people who are able to do all this."
Gary said the many volunteers helped speed the project up.
"The church came together and everyone worked hard and had a good time,'' O'Lear said.
Gary and Hoerig have done work at other cemeteries as well. Work by the association has also been done on Duck Creek, Wilkerson, Lutheran and the oldest sections of East Cemetery.
"We have put a lot of work in the cemetery,'' Gary said.
The association meets at 6 p.m. the third Thursday of each month at the township hall.