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April 5, 2013

TU students uncover history at Pebble Hill

BARWICK — At Pebble Hill Plantation there’s a cemetery that’s not included on any public tours. Inside the red brick walls that surround the cemetery are old trees dripping with Spanish moss. Beneath them are the graves of those whose lives came to a close on the plantation. Some of the graves are marked, although some of the names have been washed away by time and weather. Many other graves have no markers at all, their indicators taken away through the ages.

 “All cemeteries are more than just the final resting places for those who have passed on, more than just a place for loving friends and family members to visit and mourn and remember,” said Barbara Cohenour, museum manager at  Pebble Hill Plantation. “As time passes, they become a primary source providing the dates that surround past lives and for grouping those with similar names into family units. In recent years, Americans have become very interested in their own genealogy and it is often to the cemetery that the interested relatives first turn.”

It’s in this cemetery that Thomas University student Benjie Cook takes his in interest in local history beyond the books. Among the graves Cook, a senior at Thomas University working through the GAPP (Geospatial Analysis Planning and Preservation) Center, methodically lists the names in hopes that family members in the area can reconnect with their ancestors. His mission is to catalogue the names of those who are buried in the cemetery. Then he hopes to find the families connected with those graves. So far he’s identified 94 named graves and about 100 marked graves without names. The oldest marked and named grave dates back to 1896.

See Saturday's edition for more details.

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