A Hendricks County woman who wasn’t born in Jackson County and has never lived here spends a lot of time at a historic cemetery in Carr Township.
Janet Longest recently asked the county commissioners for their help in restoring the cemetery as part of the county’s bicentennial celebration next year.
“That’s an important historical artifact you have out there,” Longest said, referring to Heighton Hill Cemetery along County Road 150S northwest of Medora.
The Plainfield resident said she doesn’t have any money for the work, but it would be a great project for the 200th anniversary celebration of the county.
Story continues below gallery
Longest, who has family buried in the cemetery, said many of the monuments there are on the ground and need to be reset. Some of the taller ones have been vandalized, she added.
The cemetery includes the grave of Vincent Lockman, one of 39 Revolutionary War soldiers buried in the county. Lockman was born in 1760 in North Carolina and died Oct. 29, 1843, in Medora.
It also contains the grave of John Flavel Carr, the son of Thomas and Martha Buchanan Carr. The township is named after Thomas Carr. John Carr, who was born March 27, 1805, in Carr Township, was a state representative and state senator. He died April 28, 1878.
“His monument is in good shape,” Longest said.
Civil War veteran Jacob Thomas Gallion is buried there along with doctors, farmers, lawyers and parents with their kids, Longest said.
“I hope you have got some sense that this is an important historical artifact that you have out there and that it needs conservation and it needs it now,” she said. “I have been doing conservation on my own for a very long time at my own expense, and I don’t mind that all because yes they are my family.”
She said Heighton Hill is not the oldest cemetery in the county. The she added, “But I can assure you it is one of the worst taken care of by far.”
Longest, who recently was elected regent for the Fort Vallonia chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, estimated it would cost about $5,000 to restore the Heighton Hill Cemetery. She also said she belongs to the American Tombstone and New Tombstone conservancies and knows what needs to be done to restore the tombstones.
She said the $5,000 would allow for the tombstones to be reset and stabilized.
“I can do some things on my own,” she said. “I’ve been well-trained on fixing leaners and also stacked stones (monuments composed of two or more stones). But it takes somebody who has the right equipment, the right supplies and the right knowledge to get some of those stones up were they need to be.”
She also said that for $135 the county can purchase a sign from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources noting the historical significance of the cemetery.
County attorney Susan Bevers said township trustees are generally responsible for the upkeep of cemeteries, but the county does have a cemetery commission. The county does not levy any taxes for cemetery restoration.
Bevers asked Longest if she has considered if the Carr-Owen Community Foundation might be interested in funding the work.
Longest said she was aware of that group and that she also plans to write a grant request to the state DNR for Heighton Hill and other cemeteries.
“They’re pretty good about giving some monies; but just like everybody, they’re spread pretty thin,” she said.
Longest said anyone resetting a historical stone has to be licensed, and she is in the process of obtaining her license.
Commissioner Tom Joray asked Longest if the $5,000 estimate could be lowered if the county could provide some labor.
Longest said she can fix the leaners by herself and reset stacked stones as long as they aren’t more than two high, but she needs help when it comes to the larger stones she can’t lift by herself. She said some of the taller stones would require the professional services of someone with a hoist.
Joray said it might be possible that people sentenced to community service might be able to help.
Commissioner Matt Reedy said it also might be possible that some of the boys at the county juvenile home could help.
“That would be great,” Longest said.