Some of the grave markers in the Old Forest Hill Cemetery are so old and battered by age that little information remains. The dates and the names are worn away, as years of rain and other environmental factors have taken their tolls.
In one section of the Taylor cemetery, grave markers are even used as the edging of a roadway.
The only information, contained on three hand-written pieces of paper, was discovered by local history buff and teen librarian Loretta Heffernam, when a few boxes belonging to the cemetery’s former caretaker were brought in and shared with staff at the Taylor Community Library a few years ago.
“I had those three pieces of paper blown up,” she explained. “We’re fortunate to have them as a starting point.”
Heffernam was fortunate herself, as the library sponsored her participation in a cemetery preservation conference in Harrisburg.
“I’m really into the history of Taylor,” she explained. “And when we saw what we had with this information, I just knew this was an important project. It’s a lot of work, but it’s important work. You’d be surprised how many people who come into the library looking for information about family names and who is buried in our cemeteries.”
Heffernam is responsible for coordinating all of the teen programming at the library. She thought a preservation project would be a perfect fit.
“Our teens do several types of activities a year,” she explained. “Fun activities, community service activities and educational activities. This project covers all of the categories. And, it’s not just something that appeals to teens in the community. We’re hoping that adults in the Triboro will join us.”
The preservation project will be held at the Old Forest Hill Cemetery on Friday, June 28, at 10:30 a.m. During the program, participants will photograph, catalog and map grave sites.
Heffernam explained what participants can expect, “You need cameras, SD cards, lots of volunteers, maps if you have them. You have to find a beginning point and orient yourself. You take photographs, identify the tombstone, put all of the information down [quotes, description of the stone].”
Lisa Kimes is pleased projects like this exist for the community, “I think this is a great activity,” she said. “I’m truly impressed at the amount of learning and fun my kids will be able to participate in during this preservation project.”
Kimes explained that all of her children, Kaitlyn, Danny and Ariel, have benefited from and enjoyed numerous programs offered by the Taylor Community Library throughout the years.
Will Donaghey, who began participating in programs like the Forest Hill Cemetery project, is now an art student at Keystone College.
“Even though I’m no longer in high school, I still love the programs here at my local library,” he said. “I love what they do, what types of activities are offered.”
“This is a lot of work,” Heffernam added. “We want to have this information available to the public. It’s important to keep our history.”
For more information, or to sign up, call 562-1234.