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County Cemeteries to be Restored

by Jeff Miller

It started out as a family history project.

About 5 years ago, Tina Keister was interested in finding out more about her family history and with her grandparents already deceased the task was a difficult one. She added that she wishes she would have
asked them those burning questions earlier.

Reseraching her family history evolved into something even bigger - she became interested in finding out just where her family members were buried.

The end result was the founding of the Boone County Cemetery Preservation Restoration Project.

Keister's goal is to preserve and restore all of the grave sites in the more than 73 cemeteries in the county - some of which are on private land.

"Many of the stones are in poor condition," she said.

"Some are to the point that one cannot even read the stone's inscriptions or symbols." A state Keister feels is a waste.

To bring back the original beauty of the stones, Keister is asking for
volunteers to join her this weekend at Quincy Cemetery located in the
township of Marcy to help clean these historic stones.

Weather permitting, clean up will start at 10 am on Saturday and Sunday.

With a yearning to find out how to bring these stones back to theiroriginal form, she looked no further than an expert in Cedar Rapids where she just happened to be living at the time.

The gentleman owned a monument business and generously answered all of Keister's questions.

Telling here that first she needed to collect some toothbrushes, towels, and sweat pants.

"The first step is to wipe down all of the dirt, algae, and moss," she said.

"The rule of thumb to prevent algae from returning is to stay away fromchemical based products, however, silver paint is OK."

"The paint smothers the algae and moss," she said.

Keister has also tried black paint pens. The product worked so well on some of the stones that you would think were not fixable can actually be read now.

Anyone wanting to know more about he project can go to www.iagenweb.org or www.iowagravestones.org.

The Web site is filled with a lot of history on families in Boone county and where they are located.

"Many Civil War veterans were buried in Hull aka Meadow Grove which islocated in the township of Worth," she said.

According to Keister, Boone County has some of the oldest cemeteries in the state and after doing some research she has learned that many of Daniel Boone's descendants were buried in the county.

Through word of mouth the project has gained many members. They are now 150 strong.

She is now looking for more volunteers to join her this weekend atQuincy Cemetery and for private donations that will help fund the project that Keister says is a worthy cause.

Keister commented that there really is a lot of history at the more than 73 cemeteries.

"Some of the stones they selected have history behind them," she said.

History buffs would really get a lot out of the project. Some of the sites go back as far as the early 1800's.

Anyone wanting to help this weekend or find out more information about the project can call Tina Keister at 515-275-2323 or email her at [email protected] or view the web site.

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Page Last Updated: 2013-09-03 17:26:06
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