PAGETOWN — What a difference several weeks of hard work can make.
The landscape of the dilapidated, historic Pagetown Cemetery has taken on a new look, thanks to the efforts of Tim Foor. Broken tombstones have been repaired and reset along County Road 26, south of Marengo.
Weather has been a challenge, with several days of heavy rain halting work this month.
“The rain slowed us down. You can’t risk it as holes were filled with water, but they drained. When it drops below 50 degrees you can’t do the repairs,” he said.
When it gets colder than that the epoxy won’t set.
Bennington Township trustees hired Foor in early August to help repair the stones, damaged by nearly two centuries of weathering. Lichen build-up, cracks in the stones and bases were evident. Most are sandstone, others are marble.
Foor estimated there could be as many as 230 graves buried in the rectangular lot. The first burial was in 1821 and the last burial was in 1876.
As of Sept. 13, he’s repaired about 30 of them.
“The marble sits around and it starts to crumble,” Foor said as he carefully placed pieces together that he’s found on the site.
“You have to scrape it. Glue things together. I try really hard not to mess up the letters,” he said.
Foor has about 10 stones to finish.
In the corner of the field sits a large pile of rocks that he’s uncovered and he’s certain are not part of any tombstones.
The first row is composed primarily of Wilson family members. Foor tried to make out the intricate letters on one of the stones.
“It’s all busted up. You can’t read it any more.”
A transcription list from the Morrow County Genealogical Society also aided him in starting the project.
“I was able to follow the path they took through the cemetery with the list.”
Up until 1848, this area was part of Delaware County. So Foor got records from the auditor’s office there to help fill in the gaps.
Working on the Marcus Page family obelisk is tenuous.
“It’s pretty level, but it’s twisted a bit,” he said. “Cleaning that up is an all-day project.”
Finding as many pieces to the smaller grave stones involves a bit of detective work.
“I’m putting pieces together trying to see what matches.”
He is intrigued by the Kenedy family buried at Pagetown. Rachel was buried in 1828. Her brother George has no death date and there is a Norton there also.
“The initials N.K. are on his foot stone,” Foor said. “A lot of the graves here have foot stones, and those can be a little hint.”
The engraving of A.M.W. matches the head stone of Abby Mary Wilson, who, according to the epitaph, was in her “34th year of being” when she passed away.
His efforts have attracted attention from Columbus media outlets and cemetery preservation groups on social media.
“My goal has been to just preserve it and do as little harm as possible,” Foor said. “I just want to make it look nice again.”