Man works to restore one of the oldest cemeteries in Ohio

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"The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living."

That was once said by Roman philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero.

Two-thousand years later, just off State Route 26 in Morrow County, those same words ring true.

Tim Foor says it needed to be done.

"It's been in rough shape for quite some time," he said.

Records kept the Pagetown Cemetery in Bennington Township up-to-date until 1948. By that time, Foor says grazing cattle had knocked over and destroyed many of the headstones.

The last burial recorded at the cemetery was 1876. The first burial was in 1821.

"This is the only record of them," Foor said. "There's no birth certificates. No death certificates. The only thing we have is a stone with their name and date on it."

Foor says Bennington Township is paying him about $5,500 to restore the cemetery. It's a process that includes a lot of scrubbing of a biological solution to help remove mold and bring back the natural color of the stone.

Right now there are about 60 stones visible, but records indicate there could be as many as 220.

Foor has been taking a tool to lightly puncture the ground. He's checking to see if the rod hits the stone. If it does, he carefully digs up pieces and places them together to form the original headstone.

He does it for pride. For history. For family.

"The big obelisk in the center is my first cousin, four times removed, Marcus Page," Foor said.

And in the process, Foor says he's connected with family he never knew he had.

"I had a woman from California actually talk to me," he said. "Turns out, we're actually cousins because my third great-grandfather is also her fourth great-grandfather."

Foor says it's a sense of accomplishment, helping to restore the markers of some of Morrow County's founders.

"When you walk out of here at the end of the day and you've set up somebody's stone, you're kind of giving them a name again," he said. "Just kind of makes you feel good about what you're doing."

Foor says the same restoration that he's doing is the same type that's approved for Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D. C.