Sisters restoring Drook
By Marissa E. Lane, Staff Writer
Drook Cemetery isn't easy to find if one doesn't know where to look. Situated between a field and the backyards of several homes on Willow Street, it's accessible from a grass path off of US 27. Perhaps its solitude is the reason that one of Liberty's oldest cemeteries has fallen into such a state of disrepair.
Sisters Aimee Brumfield, Jennifer Matheny and Melissa Spillers asked Union County commissioners for their permission to repair the cemetery late last month. The women all have taken classes and received training on how to repair headstones without harming them. The commissioners approved, and told the women to contact Matt Reuss, the township trustee, for any money needed for materials.
Spillers, who serves as the secretary for the Fayette County Cemetery Commission, said that their family has always been interested in their genealogy, which goes hand-in-hand with an interest in cemeteries. All three sisters have served or are serving on a cemetery board: Matheny served on the West Point Cemetery Board for three years and Brumfield is the current president of the Fayette County Cemetery Commission alongside Spillers. She is also a member of Cemetery Conservators for United Standards, a non-profit organization that practices “Do No Harm” methods of restoration.
Drook Cemetery is the final resting place of 131 pioneers and Civil War veterans, though it might be hard to tell right now. Headstones have shifted and eroded with time, making them nearly illegible, and the land is overgrown in many areas. The brush that has taken over will need to be removed before any work on the headstones can be done.
“We've gone to classes to learn the proper ways to restore the headstones without harming them so that they're there for the future,” said Spillers.
“When I started doing flag placements at the cemeteries about eight years ago, I didn't know this place was here,” said Matheny. “When I first came here, weeds were thigh high. At least now things are getting mowed, but it needs more.”
The hope is to have the cemetery repaired, with a flagpole and signage in place, before the Union County bicentennial in 2021 and the Liberty bicentennial in 2024. It's expected to take at least a year to clear out the brush and straighten and restore the headstones. The sisters hope that others will volunteer with them and are willing to train anyone, especially high school students in need of community service hours.
The project will certainly be a large undertaking, but an important part of Liberty and Union County history will be preserved.
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