The third time was a charm. Thanks to Bruce and Connie Rova who picked up the heavy equipment needed to clear the waist-high brush and their non-stop effort to complete the whole cemetery before the equipment was due back, we now have the entire Muscogee Cemetery once again cleared to ground level.† Through the entire morning, Bruce pushed the heavy machinery back and forth across the uneven terrain, avoiding damage to hidden gravesites as he stumbled across them.† Several stones were unearthed and set upright again.
Maurice Johnson and Connie helped Bruce clear the cut brush away so that he could keep cutting without stopping.† You had to see it to appreciate it.† I canít say enough for this.† It was a make or break part of the restoration effort.† Itís now done.
On the leisurely side, Elsie, Helen, Ron and Jerry continued the survey effort and managed to complete the entire SE quadrant.† We recorded 80 graves here that were still visible.† Other areas that had scattered stones half-covered by sediment were merely marked as suspected graves.† Since one quarter of the cemetery is now plotted, it appears there will be in the neighborhood of 300 or more graves in the cemetery.† When we started this effort, I thought there were probably about one to two hundred at most.
With the entire cemetery now cleared, we are ready to field two survey teams if we can find the volunteers.† Two teams should be able to complete the remainder in three more efforts.† It will be important to get this done before the new growth starts in the spring.
Bruce Rova arrives with the Mark V Beast.
Maurice Johnson helps download in preparation for turning it loose.
Itís loose.† Bruce uses gee and haw commands to guide it through the big stuff.
While Maurice whacks some smaller weeds.
This gives an idea of what the cemetery looked like before clearing.
Meanwhile, Helen and Ron swap stories while Elsie catches up on her tombstone recordings.† One of the many survey stakes is visible just behind Helen.
Here is a portion of the cemetery as Bruce and the Beast pass over it repeatedly.
Here is the same scene shortly thereafter.
Listen hard and you can hear the Beast off in the distance screaming for more brush.
More tombstones emerge from the bushes.
Connie checks over her shoulder to make sure the beast is being fed regularly.
Canít be too careful.
Elsie walks across the newly revealed terrain in the NW quadrant checking on tombstones that have suddenly come to light.† Far across the cemetery Bruce is loading the Beast back onto the truck for return to the rental shop.