PAGETOWN — Tim Foor knelt on the grass, his hands covered in dirt as he looked for pieces of a broken tombstone.
“Some of these are real puzzles,” Foor said Thursday afternoon as he sifted through broken headstones at the historic Pagetown Cemetery.
Bennington Township trustees brought Foor on recently to help repair the stones. Foor said he’s being paid to repair and reset the stones, but he’s also volunteering additional time to help preserve the past.
“William Cornish, 1821, that’s the first one,” Foor said. “These abandoned cemeteries are all over. It’s about trying to get families’ history and help with genealogy.”
Nearly 200 years of weathering is evident on most of the stones. Most are sandstone, others are marble. There is intricate design and lettering on many of them.
“I’m trying to find as many pieces as I can,” he said. “We’ve got some of the names back. It’s been an adventure.”
Foor estimates there could be as many as 230 graves in the rectangular lot that sits just off County Road 26, a mile south of Marengo. So far he’s located about 50 of them.
“The cattle grazed here years ago and probably stomped some of them into mud.”
Foor is a member of Preserving Ohio’s Cemeteries, a group on Facebook. History abounds in these rural cemeteries.
“Marcus Page’s wife Lucy is buried here … somewhere,” Foor said standing next to the tall marble monument that bears their names and that of several children.
The couple founded Pagetown. It was settled in 1811.
“There are several stones I’m actively looking for.”
Many of the graves here belong to children.
“A lot are 10 years old or younger. I suspect cholera is what killed many of them,” Foor said.
He hopes to finish the project within a month, weather permitting.
“These old stones are kinda aching to be stood back up,” Foor said.