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Alachua County volunteers participate in virtual cemetery project

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Grave marker cleaned before being photographed

Preserving history one headstone at a time.

The Alachua County Virtual Cemetery Project cleans up and provides photographs of headstones from cemeteries across the county. This is the 11th year of the project.

Jim Powell, head of the project, said the focus is on saving history. Powell said GPS and maps were used to locate abandoned and landlocked cemeteries throughout the area.

“Stones wear out, believe it or not,” Powell said. “You think it’s written in stone, it’ll be there forever. It’s not.”

Each weekend, volunteers visit a new cemetery in Alachua County or surrounding areas. Photos are then uploaded to the website.

James Edward Powell III said the project allows families to find the final resting place of their loved ones. He hopes the project will eventually cover all cemeteries in Alachua County.

Powell III recounted a special case that sticks out in his mind. He found the headstone of a  young boy and then the headstone for the boy’s mother who had died while giving birth to him.

“It was like a sign, saying I found the son, now I found the mom,” Powell III said. “And that was really cool.”

Photographs have been taken at 73 different cemeteries, according to the website. Photos from more than 30 cemeteries are still being edited.   Powell hopes to expand the website to include sound and additional pictures to help tell the story of these people.

Powell said people have made changes to some of the cemeteries, including putting up fences, after photos have been posted online.

“You’ll find different things that make you feel good,” Powell said.




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