COLUMBIA CITY — Preserving history made for cold, wet work Saturday as individuals gathered at the Crooked Lake Nature Preserve to restore tombstones.
The Leaman Cemetery, tucked back in the woods along a hiking trail, had been overgrown and forgotten, until Gene Heckman, Thorncreek Township trustee, was told about the cemetery by his son, Dan.
“He asked me if I knew about the place,” Heckman said. “I had really forgotten about it being back here. We decided this was something we couldn’t let disappear. I called on those who might be interested to help restore the stones and clean the location.”
An ammonia concoction was used to clean the grave markers. Sherm Keirn, a restoration enthusiast, was leading the clean-up crew.
“We dug most of these stones out of the ground,” Keirn said. “They were caked with dirt and needed a good cleaning.”
As the years of soil washed off the stones, one very important marker was uncovered. Agnes Leaman, who’s marker shows a death date from 1838, was part of the family that owned what is now part of the nature preserve.
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