At the centuries-old Augusta Hillside Cemetery, years of neglect have reduced the graves of Civil War casualties and World War II veterans to slumping rows of weather-worn headstones.
Many are cracked, broken or overgrown with briar. Some are completely estranged from the grave sites they once marked.
“You could write the entire history of Augusta in this one cemetery,” amateur preservationist Allan Sellers said Monday night.
You’d just need to know where to start looking.
Sellers and a small group of six other volunteers, all of them over 70 years old, have spent months working to alleviate what damage they can.
They’ve cemented broken tombstones back together, cut down trees, weeded through the brush — some of it up to five feet tall — and uncovered graves that had all but disappeared.
And they’ve run out of money with the project nowhere near finished.
“We’ve done used up the cement and adhesive we’ve bought,” Sellers said. Of the effort, he added: “It’s going to take years. We spent all summer just on the top. We’re probably 90% completed on the top.”
Although the group is receiving help from the city of Augusta, Sellers said he and the other volunteers need donations from the public.
Anyone wishing to support the project can write a check out to the Hillside Cemetery and drop it off at the Augusta City Building at 219 Main St.
Sellers said he has no known family at the cemetery. He’s interested in restoring it for the sake of people who do.
“To try to lift the shame off the city of Augusta," he said. "Clean this place up.”