BY CAROL HICKS
HOOPESTON — The grandson of George and Connie Kult of Hoopeston organized and raised funds, materials and equipment to restore and repair Mechanicsburg Cemetery, north of Lebanon, Ind.
“We are very proud grandparents. He put a lot of time and effort in this project,” Connie said. “What a task they had and did a beautiful job.”
Cole Thompson, 16, a junior at Western Boone and son of Mike and Julie (Kult) Thompson, is a member of Boy Scout Troop 350 of Jamestown, Ind. The cemetery restoration was part of his Eagle Scout project. His goal was to raise funds, materials, and volunteers to restore the headstones and cemetery to its original glory.
The cemetery had about 200 headstones that needed reset, repaired and cleaned, according to Thompson, and more than 50 trees and brush removed before the main work could be attempted. Some of the stones included the founding fathers of the town of Reese’s Mills, Civil War and Spanish-American War soldiers.
Thompson involved more than 35 volunteers, including his parents and sibling, Reece, and other local scouts to help with the restoration. Each volunteer donated three days to work on the restoration project for a total of 565 volunteer hours.
“Day 1 was spent removing trees and brush,” Thompson said. “Day 2, cleaning headstones, and Day 3, up-righting and repairing some of the larger stones.”
Mechanicsburg Cemetery also received a new sign at the entrance with an inscription that said: “We owe our pioneer ancestors a better monument than a forgotten grave amid bramble and thicket.”
Thompson then created a website about his project with a listing of burials from the Thorntown Library. Photos of the before and after headstones taken during the restoration process also are available on the website.
A huge part of the funds raised included a $1,000 grant from Boone REMC’s Operation Round-Up. The grant is funded by customers of Boone County who voluntarily round up their electric bills to the nearest whole dollar, which goes into a special fund, the Boone REMC Community Fund, for worthy projects. Others that donated were the Boone County Youth as Resources, local businesses, clubs and citizens for a total of $3,135.
“Many thanks to all the people and businesses that donated materials or money. Without that I would have never been able to make the impact I did,” the teen said.
Cole Thompson created a website at www.cemetery.homestead.com about his project with a listing of burials and photos.