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Revolutionary War graves restored in Bell Township

| Monday, Nov. 12, 2012, 3:15 p.m.
Valley News Dispatch
Dab Meyers adjusts one of the Revolutionary War plaques on John Shoemaker's grave in the former St. Andrews and former Heinz Cemetery in Avonmore on Saturday, November 10, 2012. Shoemaker died on August 11, 1815. Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Valley News Dispatch
Dab Meyers looks at the headstone of a Revolutionary War veteran in the former St. Andrews and former Heinz Cemetery in Avonmore on Saturday, November 10, 2012. Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch

Two or three times a week, Avonmore resident Deb Myers, 58, takes a long walk through the woods near her house pulling a wagon full of gardening supplies.

Myers makes the half-mile trip to the once-abandoned Hines Cemetery, which she's been trying to revive for more than a year.

“It's finally starting to look like a cemetery,” Myers said of the graveyard that holds the remains of four Revolutionary War veterans along with at least 40 others.

Myers said the cemetery was abandoned in 1920. Her son, Sam, found the site a decade ago on a walk through the woods. For years, Myers would visit the cemetery, lamenting its overgrown state. Finally, she couldn't take it anymore and decided to act.

“It's totally cleared now,” she said of the site — formerly filled with dead trees, weeds and overgrown grass. “You can get in there without any trouble.”

Myers said there might be more graves in the area because no one is sure how big the cemetery was.

“Someone told me there might even be (Native American) graves up there,” she said. “I asked around at a (Native American) festival and a woman told me that if they were buried up there, the graves wouldn't be marked.”

With very little help — Myers has recruited men in their late teens and early 20s to do heavy lifting — she has transformed the forgotten space. Where downed trees lay on graves and headstones were overturned is now a space that shows respect to those buried there.

“If it wasn't for those soldiers, we wouldn't have our freedom,” Myers said. “I believe they should have a clean, decent place to rest.

“I have a lot of respect for the dead and what to do right by them,” she said. “It's just a passion.”

Myers has made drastic strides in rehabilitating the area, but her work is far from over.

“I've made a dent in it,” she said, “but I need physical help.

“I need help with researching the area,” she said. “I need help with surveying it to see what I'm dealing with.”

Anyone who wishes to help Myers is asked to call her at 724-697-2053.

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