KINDER, La. — Residents of a southwest Louisiana community are looking for help to restore its historic cemetery.
Lori Morehead and Louris Sherman are asking for help in clearing undergrowth, cleaning gravestones and identifying unmarked graves at the Botley Cemetery in Kinder.
Morehead, a descendant of the Botley family, says the grave site is in desperate need of a makeover.
“We’ve got trees falling on the graves and they’re cracking the graves; it just needs to be renovated,” Morehead said.
Sherman, who’s on the cemetery board, says the group plans in the future to build a fence around the grave site, purchase a marquee and add dirt to prevent standing water.
“We’ve cleared some trees already and we’re working on getting a piece land that’s not being used behind the cemetery donated to the board so we can expand,” Morehead said.
The American Press reports Morehead ideally would like people with family members buried at the cemetery to come forward and help identify the gravesites.
“Back in the day if you had an old cousin or family member buried there, people would say, ‘Oh, that’s such and such right there,'” Morehead said. “But now those people are no longer with us and we can’t find the original diagram marking the gravesites.”
Cemetery organizers initially assigned row numbers – one to 25 left to right and south to north – to record grave locations, but no row markers remain at the site now.
“The bookwork with a diagram marking each grave has been lost,” Morehead said. “Now we have no idea who is buried where.”
Sherman said many members of St. Paul Baptist Church, across from the cemetery, had family members buried there “but they never put a name tag or headstone or marker so we don’t know who they are.”
Morehead said the cemetery charges now for burial sites and those funds are being used to maintain the property.
“It’s just been family members and board members doing the upkeep,” she said.
She said the group is also struggling to keep people off the property “who are doing illegal activity.”
“People just aren’t treating it like a graveyard,” Morehead said. “We want to fix it up and just make it presentable.”
If anyone would like to volunteer for the cemetery restoration project, call Morehead at 337-853-7191 or Sherman at 337-853-8265.
Information from: American Press, http://www.americanpress.com