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Volunteers clean graves of African American Civil War veteran in Mount Sterling

Posted at 9:58 PM, Dec 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-11 21:58:10-05

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — Montgomery County High School students cleaned African American graves from the Civil War era at Olive Hill Cemetery on Friday.

“This is teaching me the history of Mount Sterling. I had no idea so many people had fought for their freedom here,” said senior McKenna Shrout.

The DuBois Community Center organized the service opportunity as part of a community project to record and honor African American history in Montgomery County.

“Our students are realizing the importance of bridging the gap of our American history by knowing the importance of what our African Americans have done in our history,” said organizer Valerie Scott.

Orange flags marked more than 50 graves of veterans from the Civil War and Spanish-American War, according to Scott.

“I think it’s really neat. They start out completely unidentifiable and then you get to see it’s the name of an actual person,” said one student.

The group of JROTC cadets cleaned the headstones using warm water and soft brushes.

The project both helps teach local students about Montgomery County’s past and helps connect community members with their family history.

Conchita Stockton’s great grandfather William Overstreet is buried at Olive Hill Cemetery. He was emancipated for fighting in the Civil War.

“My spirit is touched. I am so glad and I know that my great grandfather is so happy to know that this is going on. That he and his comrades from the Civil War are being recognized. That is a proud, proud moment,” Stockton. “It’s a privilege to know that you can go there and read the headstone of the man that actually set us free. That means a lot. That’s big.”

Volunteers will be returning to clean the remaining headstones at the cemetery over the coming weeks, according to Scott.