• Scouts and neighbors clean up overgrown Rock Hill cemetery

    By: TRACY KIMBALL, The Herald of Rock Hill

    Updated:
    ROCK HILL, S.C. (AP) - They chopped through thorny brush and tugged at vines for hours until they saw what they were looking for.

    Headstones.

    Groups of volunteers from civic organizations across Rock Hill started clearing out an overgrown cemetery several weeks ago.

    Neighbors surrounding the Lincoln Memorial Cemetery in Rock Hill's Marshall Estates neighborhood asked the Rock Hill Council of Neighborhoods to help clear brush that has taken over and hidden the graves, said council member Neal Barber.

    The council teamed up with the National Eagle Scouts Association Palmetto Council to start the cleanup efforts.

    However, there was one problem.

    No one knew who owns the property on Flint Street Extension. An association that was responsible for the cemetery dissolved years ago, said Aubrey Smith, president of the council.

    The cemetery is not on the tax maps. Rock Hill city officials have also searched for property records to no avail, Smith said.

    After more than six months, with still no knowledge of an owner, the groups started clearing out the more than 20 years of overgrowth.

    The last time it was cleared was in the 1990s by an Eagle Scout, Barber said.

    "Since then, there has been no entity, no church, association or government entity to maintain the property," he said. "So Mother Nature claimed it as her own."

    Buried in the cemetery is a civic leader of her own generation.

    Among the headstones is a monument and statue of a woman with her hands held up in prayer. She was born in the 1800s, and an inscription says she was a "civic leader, devoted to the betterment of mankind. A friend to all."

    A handful of organizations have stepped forward to help with the cleanup. In addition to the Rock Hill Council of Neighborhoods and the National Eagle Scouts Association, Rock Hill Clean and Green, Omega Psi Phi, Housing and Neighborhood Services, the Baptist Collegiate Ministries at Winthrop University, church groups and residents of Marshall Estates have helped with the project.

    About 60 volunteers have helped with the cleanup.

    Once the organizations have finished the work, the City of Rock Hill will maintain the property, Barber said.

    "I think that's special, to bring neighbors together and organizations together to work for the community," he said.

    If volunteers had "not stepped up" to help, the cemetery "would have remained in what you see of the uncleared project out here right now - overgrown. And people can't give the cemetery the respect that it deserves."

    ___

    Information from: The Herald, http://www.heraldonline.com

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