Cemetery looks to further genealogy efforts

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PLAINS – In an effort to bring more history and background to those buried at the Plains Cemetery, the grounds is asking for members of the community to bring any old obituaries or photos to the cemetery to be added to the records.


Sexton Ken Jones said the interest in genealogy has spiked and some of the buried at the cemetery have little to no history listed.

“Burials didn’t have a lot of burial records and they were held mostly in family bibles and in church records,” Jones said. “Over the years those records don’t get transferred when they transfer ownership of the property.”


Jones said they are going to have to rely on the information the public has of their passed love ones.


He explained that Potter’s Field located at the cemetery has a lot of unknowns buried within. In order to put a name to some of these burials, the cemetery needs to obtain the death records.


Much of the cemetery is already catalogued on findagrave.com, a website that makes it easy for people to look up graveyards throughout the country.


Shawn Emmett, a member of the Plains Cemetery Board, has added almost 1,540 memorials between a handful of cemeteries in the county.


“I manage them, which means that if somebody has information like an obituary or something, they can contact me and I can put it on there,” Emmett said.


Emmett has busied himself with a mission of ensuring that everyone buried at the Plains Cemetery is recognized. He has taken over 2,800 photos for both the cemetery in Plains and the Lonepine Cemetery


“The goal is to have every grave to be documented that they are there,” Emmett said. “I want to make these memorials on this website as accurate as possible with dates of birth, dates of death, who they are related to, if they have relatives in our cemetery.”


In a number of cases, people know a person is buried in Plains, but the exact location is unknown. Much of this is due to the fact that wooden markers were used back in the day. If a family was to move away and did not keep up with the memorial, the marker often times deteriorated.


“There are probably 20 some unknown burials up there where they don’t know who it is,” Emmett explained.


Throughout the cemetery, one can see black markers with someone’s name on it. Often times these are placed as a temporary marker before someone obtains a headstone. However, Emmett and former Sexton Butch Shomate put many of the markers in place.


“That’s from the work Butch and I did doing all that research and figuring out where they were buried up there,” Emmett said.


Emmett also encourages the public to bring any family history to help add to his archives of information, including photographs of the person who has passed.


His goal is to keep the history of those buried flowing. Emmett has been bitten by the information bug and has continued to work on his genealogy project.


“Once the bug bites you, you just want to know more and more,” Emmett said.


Along with two soldiers who died on the actual island of Iwo Jima, two outlaws who were hung outside of the town of what used to be Weeksville are also buried in the cemetery, although no one knows exactly where.


The cemetery board is currently looking at obtaining some software that would help electronically map the cemetery. If the equipment were obtained, the maps would be more accurate.


Jones encouraged church and civic groups to come up and help around the cemetery. The groups could help edge, sweep stones and help improve the look of the grounds, something Jones has been working at tirelessly.


Helga  Martin and her son Howard donated the botanical garden that is new to the cemetery.


“Come and go as you please. Come plant gardens, come prune, come plant a tree,” Jones said.


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