Two months ago, we reported on an effort to restore an abandoned African-American cemetery in the Dante community near Powell. Central High School health sciences teacher Chris Hammond contacted us recently to give an update.
The cemetery now has a sign placed by Knox County, and much work has been done at the cemetery over the fall.
Summers and Son Monument Company of Clinton repaired three tombstones and placed a new tombstone bearing the name of four individuals in unmarked graves. The new stone was paid for via fundraising by Central High’s HOSA club.
Cortese Tree Specialists donated their time to remove a dead tree and haul away a large brush pile, all at no cost.
“They are just good people,” said Hammond. “I’m guessing they did at least $500 worth of work.”
Hammond also reached out to the Dogwood Arts Festival’s Bazillion Blooms program and was given five dogwood trees, three white and two pink, donated by a local branch of Modern Woodmen of America. He planted the trees at the cemetery and is keeping up on watering them.
There’s more work to be done in the spring, though. Hammond said he and other volunteers will focus on clearing the grounds of twigs and weeds and seeding the cemetery with low-maintenance periwinkle grass. They are also planning on filling in sunken areas with fill dirt. After that, nearby Dante Church of God has committed to maintain the cemetery.
“It’s gotten a lot of positive reaction,” said Hammond, mentioning that people stop to ask questions and share memories when they see him working at the cemetery. “It’s all turned out pretty well.”