By Jessica Wettig
Michelle Gambill, Buncombe, recently took on a project to restore the Gilbert Cemetery, located near Lusk Creek Wilderness in Pope County.
Gambill said she was on a hike, when she noticed the sign for the cemetery. When she went into the cemetery, she discovered the place was in disarray. Gravestones were turned over and the landscape needed maintenance.
From there, she decided to take on the project. She contacted the Shawnee National Forest for approval to work on the cemetery. They approved her request, allowing the trimming back of brush—without the use of mechanical tools. The approval letter stated there is to be no removal or cutting down of standing live or dead timber, unless pre-approved or authorized by an officer.
It also allows for headstones that have fallen to be set back up, and does not allow expansion of the .09-acre property.
The cemetery contains several Civil War soldiers and graves from that era. She said during the 1930s, the Forest purchased several pieces of land from families in crisis, including several cemeteries. With the changing landscapes and passing of time, these cemeteries have not been well maintained.
Gambill hopes to restore this cemetery, and work on other cemeteries in the area in similar condition.
She said she finds these situations very sad.
“It really speaks to me that these people are forgotten,” Gambill said. “I wouldn’t want to be forgotten.”
The people buried in the cemetery include: Aaron Gilbert, 1843-1873; James Gilbert, 1803-1856; James A. Gilbert, Aug. 30-Sept. 7, 1858; James A. Gilbert, 1874-1879; John T. Gilbert, 1876-1879; Prudy Gilbert, died 1889 (age 6 mo., 29 days); Minerva S. Barger, 1811-1889; Sarah A. Gilbert, 1838-1859; James R. Gilbert, 1836-1862; John Richard Gilbert, 1854-1863; Indiann Jackson, 1855-1865; John Jackson, Sept. 10-Oct. 29, 1859.
Gambill is seeking volunteers for this project. If you are interested in being a part of the restoration of this cemetery, call 618-322-1963.