by Lisa Tome
When Mary Cooper took over as Cecilton's town administrator last fall, she did a walking tour of the town.
"I walked around and knocked on doors and met the residents," explained Cooper.
She also discovered an abandoned and mostly forgotten cemetery on Cemetery Lane.
"The stones are broken and they date back to the 1800s. They were covered with trash and debris," said Cooper. Upon further investigation and after consulting with town maintenance supervisor Jay Paxson, Cooper learned that the town crews knew the cemetery is there. But it doesn't belong to the town.
Instead, it's the older portion of a maintained cemetery owned by Union Bethel AME Church. Cooper explained that church has an aging congregation which can't maintain the property. Most of the graves, some of which mark the passing of veterans, are covered in briars and brush.
Town crews and cemetery neighbors have worked to clean up a portion of the cemetery, but there's more work to be done. It will also need to be maintained after the clean up.
This Saturday on April 22, from 8 a.m. until noon, town residents, and officials along with members of Scout Pack 340, and hopefully, volunteers, will have a work day in the cemetery. All are welcome to come out and help. After the cemetery is cleaned up, members of the Chesapeake City VFW will place flags on the graves of those who have served. Delaware City Refinery has donated water, trash bags, and gloves to help the volunteers.
"It's a start. We'll move forward from there. Once people see it, they will want to help. People don't see this now, they think it's woods," said Cooper. "This project is in the earliest stages. The people at the church are so grateful to us for doing this."