John Tetz’s passion for the past three years gradually came to fruition Tuesday.
The volunteer of Stratford Ecological Center, 3083 Liberty Road, watched as Ohio Valley Archaeology started the preparation to conduct ground penetrating radar of the private nonprofit’s 200-year-old cemetery.
“I’m thrilled,” he said.
Jarrod Burks, director of geophysical surveys at Ohio Valley Archaeology, said the 8,250-square-foot cemetery was in better shape compared with other cemeteries he’s surveyed.
“There’s a lot of (head)stones,” he said.
Due to some technical difficulties, Burks conducted a mapping of the grave site. The actual radar will take place Thursday.
Stratford Cemetery has recorded burials from 1816 to 1888. The area is now a shadow of what it once was during its 72-year-old usage period with boundaries not clearly defined and some grave stones broken, on the ground or illegible.
County commissioners awarded the center in May a $6,067 community enhancement grant for the cemetery’s radar service and markers.
Tetz started the project in 2013. He determined, based on historical documents, there are 59 known burials. OVA will determine an accurate number of graves and the original boundaries.
“John was the first one who got interested,” in the cemetery, said Bill Swoager of Powell, a volunteer at the center.
Swoager coordinated the clearing of the area, starting last fall by removing trees and shrubs.
“This is an interesting place,” he said.
The radar services are the beginning of the $27,000 project to restore the cemetery.
“History is an extension of our connection to the environment and nature,” said Jeff Dickinson, the center’s executive Director/farmer. “It’s important to stay connected to our past.”
Volunteers are just as important, Dickinson added.
“Stratford cannot survive without volunteers like John,” he said.
In the long term, Dickinson said the restoration plan will include placing a fence around the cemetery and determine how to preserve the remaining gravestones.
Brandon Klein can be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.