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Honoring memories

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By Robert Allen

Mt. Pleasant cemetery was busy with activity Saturday — but no funeral was in sight. As the night’s dew began to burn away with the arrival of a clear day, a group of volunteers from the Mt. Pleasant Cemetery Association was beginning their semiannual cleanup of the grounds.

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“There are people from all over the county buried here,” said Robert Alcorn of the Mt. Pleasant Cemetery Society. “You can literally see the history of Gadsden County if you walk around.”

Alcorn said Mt. Pleasant is one of the oldest settled areas in the county, leaving a cemetery with a wealth of historic headstones dating back to the mid-1800s. 

The volunteers pruned, weeded, trimmed, and raked around many of the cemetery’s more overgrown gravesites.

“If more people would come out and help, this thing could be looking like a million dollars,” said Peggy Tucker as she clipped back the branches of an overgrown bush. 

Tucker said four generations of her family were there to help with the cleanup. She wants future generations in her family to develop an appreciation for their own heritage and their area’s history.

“I love to walk over there and read the headstones,” said Tucker as she pointed toward the cemetery’s oldest section. “It just makes you wonder what life was like then.” 

Alcorn said nearly everyone helping had family members buried in the cemetery — but with about 4,500 gravesites on the grounds, not everyone buried there still has surviving relatives able to maintain their plots. 

But some do. 

The southern edge of the cemetery is bordered by a wall of woods — tall pines and scraggly brush, alive with the polyrhythmic chatter of different summer insects. Along this tree line, a woman clearly worn from an early start working in the cemetery sat with her feet out of the front passenger seat of her car. Mary Linder of Recovery, Ga., came alone to clean her family’s graves. 

“That’s where I’ll be put, next to him,” said Linder, pointing toward the other side of the long headstone with her husband’s name. 

She said her husband was one half of a two-man machine gun team during World War II. 

“My husband was in some of the worst fighting — Germany and Holland,” she said. “To tell you the truth, you think about the person — and think about what he would like you to do.”

Linder said her husband, Melvin, and her family would want the plot to look nice. 

“They were always the kind of people who liked to till the soil,” said Linder, “That’s all they knew.” 

As work progressed around the cemetery, a truck and trailer circulated to collect trimmings and haul them away. After a full morning of work, lunch was served at the adjacent church, Centenary United Methodist Church.