When Larry Lowe learned there was a possibility a group would go out to his farm on Hollow Road and clean up a small, overgrown family cemetery, he was ecstatic.
Lowe was contacted by Bill Hewitt of Danville, Calif., about the idea.
“Bill called me and he said, ‘What if we got somebody to come in, some kind of group? Would you be willing to supervise?’ I said, ‘Well, sure. I would be glad to,’” Lowe said.
Hewitt visited Barren County in 2013 to research his mother, Lily Rogers Hewitt’s family. Her father, Augustus Lee Rogers, lived in Barren County at one time.
Hewitt contacted Peggy Nims with the American Cave Conservation Association in Horse Cave about bringing college students participating in alternative spring break programs out to Lowe’s farm to clean up the cemetery.
Nims agreed to lend a hand when students were available.
“He kind of put me in touch with Larry and Mr. [Robert] Bailey, who is the caretaker,” Nims said. “We all just kind of found each other.”
On Thursday, students from the University of Illinois at Chicago spent a large portion of the day cutting down tree saplings and briars at the cemetery.
“One of the things they like to focus on is history and the culture of the area,” Nims said. “They like to know about the people that they are serving, so we felt this would be a really good project, because it is an older cemetery with a Civil War soldier buried here and sadly a lot of graves with just field markers maybe from the influenza epidemic of 1918, which evidently devastated Barren County.”
The Civil War soldier, J.T. Rogers, is believed to be related to one of Hewitt’s ancestors, William Oliver Butler Rogers, commonly known as Butler, who is also buried at the cemetery on Lowe’s farm. Butler Rogers at one time owned the farm.
J.T. Rogers fought with Company A of the 37th Kentucky Infantry.
“The 37th Kentucky Infantry defended Fort Williams when the Confederates attacked Glasgow in the Civil War,” said Lowe.
Lowe was pleased with the work the students did.
“Tell you what, they are pretty impressive, especially for city kids,” he said, jokingly. “They’ve got a really good work ethic. They are some super kids.”
Robert Bailey, caretaker of the cemetery, was also on hand Thursday. Maintaining the cemetery is a big job for him, mostly due to his age. Bailey will soon turn 80.
“I just come and mow what I can with a tractor,” he said. “I’m the only one, so I just do the best I can.”
Bailey is also a descendant of some of the people who are buried at the cemetery, and said he wouldn’t mind it if the students wanted to come back and help make more improvements at the cemetery.
“We would really appreciate it,” he said.
The students, who chose to do the community service work such as clearing the cemetery, said they had fun doing the work.
Earlier in the week, the University of Illinois students cleaned up sinkholes that had been used as garbage dumpsites and visited Mammoth Cave National Park.
“This [project] was just more for the community around the cemetery since the person who has been taking care of the cemetery couldn’t do it any more,” said Paloma Quintina, a sophomore biology major. “We were glad to come out and help him clean it up.”
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