Volunteers work to restore historical cemetery - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Volunteers work to restore historical cemetery

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BIRMINGHAM - AL -

The storms of April 27th, 2011 took away not only homes and businesses, but left one of the city's historical cemeteries in disrepair. Buried beneath trees and debris, is a link to the Magic City's past and Saturday, volunteers came to help uncover it all.

Over 60 volunteers spent their Saturday at the Fraternal Cemetery in Pratt City - clearing away debris and brush that had grown over the graves. Many of those volunteers we found are descendants of people buried there.

"You see older people, you see kids running around: there's life here again," Lisa Fiesalman, a descendant said.

"We've got 20 acres and there's somewhere in the neighborhood of 1500 graves here," Penny Syx Hemmer, a descendant said.

But you wouldn't be able to tell...

"It was beautiful, it was so gorgeous open and shady out here," Hemmer said. "It was amazing. For it to be like this is unforgivable. We've got to do something to fix it."

Penny Syx Hemmer drove from Knoxville this morning. Her great grandparents, great aunts and uncles all found a resting place here. But there was always one missing....

"I've never seen my Grandma Syx's grave," she said. "I've been looking for her for so long and didn't know what had happened to her."

But what she didn't know - until today - just few steps over is her grandmother's grave.

"I thought they were buried in Ohio and had been looking for them for about 12 years," Hemmer said.

She's now part of the newly formed fraternal, Greenwood, Foley Historical Preservation Society - A group aimed at restoring what's been lost.

"It's brought out people that have family buried here," Hemmer said. "They care. That's what we really needed to do. We need to get more folks involved in caring again."

"You wouldn't believe that someone actually cares again," Fiesalman said.

Lisa's family was a part of Pratt City when it was a mining town. Weeds, brush, and downed trees buried her family's graves almost out of sight.

"This tree fell in the April 27th tornado," she said. "It's been laying across this grave." 

"There's the bigger picture," Hemmer said. "This is home. This is family. This is something we really have to take care of. Just because people have passed on doesn't mean you don't care. With every breath you have left you have to keep trying. Trying to take care of those who went before you that brought you here."

The Society says it plans to host more cleanups this Spring. Visit - http://fraternal-greenwood-foley-cemeterypreservationsociety.org/  for more information. 

 

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