JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Time-worn, forgotten and borderline decrepit.
Yet, still valuable, sacred and worth saving.
That’s why 16-year-old Eagle Scout candidate Brandon Cahill chose as his qualifying service project the strenuous, time-consuming restoration of the easily overlooked Barnett Cemetery, located within River Ridge Commerce Center.
For Brandon, it’s a matter of preserving local history, as well as showing respect to the final resting place for a few dearly departed folks he never knew.
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The job of repairing and rebuilding the crumbling rock perimeter of the tiny cemetery is gravely needed.
“Nothing has been done with this cemetery really except keep the grass cut,” he said. “It (the stone wall) has never been replaced.”
And, it’s only a matter of time before the barrier deteriorates to a point that it no longer serves its intended purpose.
So, despite the sweltering temperatures and laborious work, Brandon and more than a dozen fellow Boy Scouts from Troop 4010 at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Clarksville worked in and around the isolated cemetery for six hours Saturday.
Also giving up part of their long weekend were some of the Boy Scouts’ loved ones, as well as representatives of the River Ridge Development Authority.
Their combined efforts provided the sweat equity needed to begin preserving this piece of local history.
They also did it to support Brandon’s efforts to achieve Eagle Scout status.
“I knew it would be challenging and nothing but hard work,” Brandon said. “I appreciate everyone coming out. It’s a big effort, but it’s worth it.”
River Ridge also contributed materials and loaned equipment to the effort. “I am very grateful for their support and help,” Brandon said.
He estimates it will take at least seven or so additional work days to finish the project. The troop also plans to place a new sign containing historical information at the site upon completion.
Not a great deal is known about Barnett Cemetery, which stands isolated on a small patch of land off Ind. 62, just north of Autoneum North America in River Ridge, which is formerly the Indiana Army Ammunition Plant.
The idea to refurbish this area of historical value as his service project came to Brandon while checking out the cemetery with his dad, Frank Cahill, who is the Scoutmaster for Brandon’s troop and a process engineer with Autoneum.
Barnett Cemetery came into existence in the early 1800s, according to information provided by River Ridge.
Inside the confines of the rock fence are a small collection of worn headstones with surnames consisting of Atchison, Blizzard, Hiltibidal and Young.
The deaths of those interred in the cemetery occurred mostly in the mid- to late-1800s. Interestingly, many of the headstones give the exact ages of those buried there, an uncommon feature on a grave marker.
For example, one headstone reads that Capt. John Blizzard died on Sept. 11, 1854, and was “aged” 73 years, 9 months and 14 days.
“It’s a really neat little cemetery,” Brandon said. “I’m glad we can do this.”
Frank said he is proud of his son’s interest in preserving history with this service project, as well as his laser focus on achieving such a meaningful personal achievement as Eagle Scout.
“He has done a great job with all of it,” Frank said. “It takes a lot to reach Eagle Scout . He’s about six to eight months away from it. I am proud of him no matter what. He’s worked hard.”
Ken Smith, who volunteers as a leader with Troop 4010 as well, shared how Eagle Scout service projects are very demanding and call upon a scout’s leadership skills, as well as it challenges them to plan, organize, project manage, market and raise funds for their cause.
The entire effort must be documented, compiled and submitted for review and approval.
Ken knows this firsthand because his own son, Austin, is also working on his qualifying Eagle Scout service project.
This coming Friday and Saturday, Austin — along with his fellow troop members and supporters — will assemble a play set, lay weed guard, install edging and add mulch in the play area for Haven House in Jeffersonville.
Ken said the troop members are there for one another, and it was an honor for him and his son to be a part of Brandon’s project on Saturday.
Brandon said he is excited to be so close to the accomplishment he set his eyes upon years ago.
A scout since 2009, Brandon has worked methodically since that time to achieve his ultimate scouting goal. After years of following the Eagle Scout trajectory, this service project is one of his final hurdles.
“I saved this one for the end,” he said with a laugh.
That’s because it’s such a huge undertaking in both time and effort.
But now that the time has come — and he has accomplished so much along the way — he says it is a challenge he welcomes.
“This is the fulfillment of a promise I made to myself as a kid,” he said. “It’s very special to me.”
Source: News and Tribune, https://bit.ly/2L5J7A0
Information from: News and Tribune, Jeffersonville, Ind., http://www.newsandtribune.com