History is restored at La Porte’s beautiful Quaker Cemetery

 

Story and photos by WNLP’s Bob Wellinski 

(More photos below; click to enlarge)

A long-overdue restoration project has renewed the Quaker Cemetery’s history, thanks to two days of hard, tedious work by the crew from Mahan Historical Cemetery Restoration.

Center Township Trustee Lisa Pierzakowski said many of the headstones in the small cemetery, located at the intersection of Park Street and CR-100W, were crumbling and/or sunken. Many were so dirty that the writing on the stones was illegible.

The Quaker Cemetery was established in 1841 after William Bond donated 3 acres of land for a meeting house lot and a burial ground. According to an informational monument at the entrance, it is believed 400 people are buried there, with many of the graves marked only by blank fieldstones, following Quaker custom.

“This is something that has never been done and I was finally able to get Doyle (Mahan) up here,” Pierzakowski said. “I think it looks great. The way it was looking before the restoration, the stones were kind of crumbling and some were sunken in the ground so low you could only see half of it. Now they’re all at the right level and in line. I’m very happy with it.

“It’s not only about respect, but it’s the job of the trustee. If we have any stones that are toppled over or in bad shape, we’re supposed to have them repaired.”

The cost of the restoration was $5,000.

Mahan, whose crew operates out of Noblesville, Ind., said the focus of the job was to level and fix headstones and then clean them. Twenty-seven headstones needed repair and/or leveling.

Doyle Mahan resets a gravestone.

The simple fieldstone markings on about 125 graves surprised Mahan. “The is the first cemetery I’ve been in that’s been like this,” he said.

With surgical precision and a special epoxy glue, Mahan pieced back together broken markers. Meanwhile, Anthony Withrow was busy resetting and leveling another headstone, while the husband/wife team of Billy and Natasha Lawson scrubbed headstones with a special cleaning solution.

At one point the men teamed up to straighten and realign a crooked headstone belonging to a veteran. Afterward, the 4-person crew stood at attention before it and saluted.

“Every time I finish with a military stone, I’ll stand in front of it and salute it because I come from a military family. It’s about respect,” said Withrow.

Crew members said they enjoy their work because it’s all about pride and respect of the deceased and their families.

“I love it because it makes me feel good knowing that I’m helping not only the deceased, but the families coming to see their family’s headstones. They can find them and read them again,” said Withrow. “I wish there was someone to do this near where my family is buried. You can’t even read them.”

Natasha said it’s more than just cleaning the headstone. “It doesn’t do it justice. You have to get your hands dirty,” she said as she scrubbed one of the smaller stones.

Watching the crew work, Pierzakowski said, “It’s neat you can now read the dates they passed. We were told there were some from the 1800s but we really couldn’t see some of the numbers. Now that they cleaned everything, you can read the writing on the stones. It looks beautiful, but it should have been done a long time ago. It’s done now and I think everybody is going to be happy with it.”

15 Responses to “History is restored at La Porte’s beautiful Quaker Cemetery”

  1. Tim

    Oct 02. 2021

    I drive by there almost every day. They did a beautiful job. I was wondering who did it thanks for the article.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Charlie Maslankowski

    Oct 02. 2021

    Awesome work everybody! God bless all of you for caring enough to restore thes gravesights of your own free will! So incredible to have caring people who respect those who were buried there centuries before so many of us today.

    There are several small final resting places in and around LaPorte County. Imagine the local families who had relatives living centuries ago and are lucky enough to have old photos and memorabilia from back then.

    Thank you for sharing such interesting details of time long ago.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Deb

    Oct 02. 2021

    I am so glad to see this restoration . Thank you !

    Reply to this comment
  4. Walter Brath

    Oct 02. 2021

    What a great service you performed Lisa. My wife and I Drive by this cemetery several times a week. Thanks to you and the workers that performed this very sacred job.

    Walter and Jccque Brath

    Reply to this comment
  5. David Long

    Oct 02. 2021

    God Bless You all and the work you are doing!

    Reply to this comment
  6. Billie thresh womack

    Oct 02. 2021

    this is awesome People drive by there all the time and don’t even realize there is a Cemetary there I alway see it but never have I got out to see the names on the headstones You are a very awesome Trustee love ya girl

    Reply to this comment
    • Steve Holifield

      Oct 04. 2021

      Great job. I have always wondered about this cemetery as to when was the last person buried and if there are any relatives still around. There are a lot of old cemeteries around the county. I remember one as a kid on 450 South that had veterans from the Revolutionary War . According to my Abstract my farm was originally deeded to a Veteran of the War if 1812. He has family buried in Oak Grove.

      Reply to this comment
  7. ILUVLP

    Oct 02. 2021

    I remember my uncle telling me a story of a treasure being buried in that cemetery between two trees.
    Who knows if those trees are even there anymore?

    Reply to this comment
  8. Anita M. Way

    Oct 02. 2021

    A very heartfelt, “GOD BLESS YOU ALL! It seems to be those who cannot make the updates and beautification possible for themselves who cry out from the grave for help. Ergo, the dedicated humanitarians who care enough to make a difference will hear their call. Thank you Center Township office and the workers, who showed such dignity to those who have gone before. for your time and efforts.

    Reply to this comment
  9. Ron Brauer

    Oct 02. 2021

    Wonderful story on some great work. They had great weather in which to do this, and now we can enjoy the fruit of their labors. I’m sure there are more cemeteries that could use this restoration, and if word gets out that this is dignified and rewarding work, more may be inclined to pursue this as a career.

    Reply to this comment
  10. Dianne Carpenter

    Oct 04. 2021

    I drive by often and of course, saw the team working hard. Thanks for the interesting article. I’ll stop the next time I go by and read some of the stones. Thanks to all.

    Reply to this comment
  11. Diane Humphrey

    Oct 04. 2021

    God Bless Lisa & the amazing crew who did such outstanding work to this historic cemetery. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

    Reply to this comment
  12. Dennis Whorwell

    Oct 04. 2021

    There is at one G.A.R. (Civil War) veteran buried in Quaker Crematory.

    Reply to this comment
  13. Mario Rosa

    Oct 05. 2021

    Awesome work!

    Reply to this comment
  14. mike pruden

    Oct 09. 2021

    Lived next to this cemetery for almost 30 years. I would sometimes right some of the leaning stones, but they would not stay that way for long, now that they have a solid base they should stand tall for a long time. Walked by for years before I noticed the word cemetery was spelled wrong on the information stone. (CEMETRY)

    Reply to this comment

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