The Heritage Project is a new effort by residents of Champaign County to honor those buried in local cemeteries. Many cemeteries have not been identified and some have received little care over the decades.
Three local organizations are working together to recognize, mark and, when necessary, restore the burial grounds.
The groups are Urbana Chapter National Daughters of the American Revolution, The Champaign County Historical Society, and the Bullskin Trail District Boy Scouts of America.
Co-chairing this endeavor are Janet Ebert (Urbana Chapter), Joe Rizzutti (Historical Society) and Amanda McCall (Bullskin Trail).
Many hours of preparation have already been spent, as Ebert and Rizzutti studied old maps and records, and consulted with various sources.
The goals of the project are:
To discover and identify all of the burial grounds and cemeteries in Champaign County and to record any that are not on extant lists.
To visit and determine the status, needs and extent of restoration that may be required of each.
To clean up and/or restore each cemetery to the best of the groups’ abilities.
To note and respect the persons buried in the cemetery, especially any veterans, and their recognition as such, and to record any not listed.
Most of these efforts will not include major cemeteries such as Oak Dale, Evergreen, Maple Grove and Woodstock. The number of local burial sites is probably around 170.
An additional expectation is to provide signage for each cemetery as it is identified. To this end, some funds have been provided for the signs, but additional funds are being sought for their installation.
In general, all work will be volunteer.
In addition to the co-chairs, Eric and Mary Putnam will provide photography and recording skills. Mapping assistance is being provided through the County Engineer’s Office and Doug Crabill, of Urbana City.
Several local historians and genealogists are also contributing their resources.
Careful records of the various cemeteries have been kept over the years by Urbana Chapter NSDAR and other agencies. An inclusive list is now being prepared.
The Heritage Project’s first two cemeteries have been selected. One is already in process as an Eagle Scout project, and the other is Buck Creek Cemetery in Union Township.
Workers have examined the cemetery and are meeting to decide on the work required.
For that cemetery, the Mission Committee of the First Presbyterian Church in Urbana plans to join in the special efforts. Signs are in process.
Concurrently, some particular markings are planned by Urbana Chapter and descendants of local notables, especially Ohio Governor Joseph Vance, who is buried at Oak Dale.
Persons who have information about local cemeteries (particularly the small ones) or who wish to participate in the work may notify a co-chair.
Information from The Heritage Project.