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Elizabeth cemetery's cannon gets Eagle Scout upgrade

| Monday, May 27, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Michael Jones, left, talks with fellow Scouts from Troop 99 in Elizabeth Township, Sam Durant and Neil McGuire, about ways to continue improvements to Mt. Vernon Cemetery's Civil War section.
Michael Jones led fellow members of Boy Scout Troop 99 of Elizabeth Township to repaint a Civil War cannon and landscape its surrounding monument at Mt. Vernon Cemetery. Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News

The Mt. Vernon Cemetery War Memorial cannon is an interesting piece of hardware. Painted silver and only about knee-high, the gun is said to date to around the time of World War I and is believed to be from a naval ship from the same period.

Other than that, local lore about the cannon appears to be obscured by the passage of time; its keepers don't know exactly when it arrived at the cemetery or why.

The obscurity is perhaps owing to the fact the artillery piece was, until recently, overgrown with weeds and difficult for the casual passer-by to see.

But that has changed thanks to the work of Michael Jones, who has revitalized the memorial with the help of friends and an area business.

Mike, a Boy Scout and student at Elizabeth Forward High School, undertook the project as part of his efforts to earn the rank of Eagle Scout. In addition to clearing away vegetation, he has rebuilt the platform and is in the process of straightening Civil War grave markers that have begun to lean.

“We just kind of winged it,” Mike said when asked about planning for the project, which involved pouring a new footer for the pad and laying pavers.

Some of the construction decisions may have been made on the spot but other aspects of the job have been in the works for months.

“You have to get donations and raise funds,” he said.

Friends of the Mt. Vernon Cemetery Association initially contacted Boy Scout Troop 99 in Elizabeth Township about the memorial.

Joy Cullen of the association said her group had a grant from the Crawford Foundation that helped cover some costs.

“It was great to have him do the work,” said Cullen, who plans to reach out again to the Scouts about future projects.

Mike recruited friends from his troop to help with labor, including Sam Durant, who earned his Eagle Scout rank last year with a project installing shelves at Central Highland Community United Methodist Church.

Troop members Neil McGuire and Sam Boden were part of the crew and Mike said his grandfather Robert Macey was of a great help the masonry.

Mike said Busy Beaver in White Oak was very helpful by donating supplies.

Cullen said the cemetery has made progress in recent years through volunteers identifying graves of Civil War veterans. Previously, the cemetery only knew about 21 Civil War veterans. Now there are 40 on record in the cemetery along Buena Vista Road.

Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or