ROOT - Last month, the gravesite of a man who survived a brutal raid during the Revolutionary War and was once one of Montgomery County's wealthiest landowners was covered in weeds, small trees, berry bushes and briars.
Today, the gravesite of Jacob Dievendorf, born in the 1770s, is restored thanks to a small group who recently formed the town's first Historical Society.
Dievendorf's remains lie in the Dievendorf Family Cemetery on Darrow Road in the town's Currytown. At age 12, he was captured by Native Americans who sided with the British in the Revolutionary War, scalped and left to die. He survived and went on to own about 1,000 acres of land. He lived until he was 84.
A man walks through the Dievendorf Family Cemetery on Darrow Road in Currytown in June after a three-week restoration effort.
Town Historian Bill Maring, his wife, Shirley, who is the president of the Historical Society, and others worked three weeks, starting Memorial Day, clearing out the brush and painting a fence that surrounds the family burial site, where more than 20 headstones lie.
The restoration is just in time for the Dievendorf family reunion this summer. The Marings said they were contacted by one of Jacob Dievendorf's descendents, who now lives in Florida, about restoring the site.
That cemetery is the first of 47 abandoned family cemeteries the Historical Society, which has attracted 22 members since it was formed in December, plans to restore and officially document.
"A lot of these people served in the Revolutionary War," Bill Maring said Friday. "It's just a shame a lot of [their gravesites] are overgrown. There's no way to place flags on their graves on Memorial Day. A lot of them are people's ancestors in the town."
While the area was settled much earlier, the town was officially formed in 1823. According to U.S. Census data, about 1,750 people live in the town now.
The new Historical Society has already accepted numerous donations to start a collection of artifacts. Among them is a baseball bat dated 1904 used by the Randall Kickers, a baseball team that was organized in the late 1800s. Another is a collection of poems published by a woman from Currytown.
Shirley Maring said the group is trying to secure a location, perhaps the old Town Hall that was once a church in the 1800s, to display the artifacts and hold community events like ice cream socials.
"We have some fascinating stuff if we can get a place to display everything," Shirley said. "We've had to turn some people down because we can't store anymore."
The group also has applied for a historical marker from the state for the former home of Enoch Ambler, which still stands in Currytown. Ambler held a patent letter from President Andrew Jackson's office for the first mower, which was hauled by horses. He later moved to Fulton County and died a pauper after his patent expired.
Root Supervisor John Thayer said the Historical Society will be a tremendous asset to the town.
"With today's computer age, we forget about both recent and past history," Thayer said. "I think they're doing great work."
The Historical Society meets on the third Wednesday of every month in the Town Hall.
For more information, call Bill or Shirley Maring at 922-5606.
The Lenardson Family Cemetery, originally off of the junction of Argersinger Road and Dillenbeck Drive, is the next burial site to be restored with efforts starting next week.
Amanda Whistle covers Montgomery County. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.