The Lula Belton Historical Society celebrated several years of hard work Saturday to reclaim an abandoned Lula cemetery, where descendents of those buried there stopped by to pay their respects and say thanks to those who chipped in.
Christine Lusink, president of the historical society, said the reclamation efforts included identifying unmarked graves and placing granite headstones, donated by Brad Rush of Gainesville, in the ground.
The graveyard is known as the Old Methodist Cemetery and located at the end of 7th Street in Lula.
Jean Montague of Athens drove to Lula Saturday to pay respects to her mother and father, who both have marked graves, and grandmother, who does not, but the historical society is going to soon place one there.
“To have an organization that is providing a headstone and identifying unmarked graves, that’s just a beautiful thing,” Montague said.
Lusink said seeing people like Montague, and dozens more, come out made it all worthwhile.
“We decided after putting the headstones in ... to have a picnic for all the folks with family buried here, so they can see what we’ve done and perhaps tell us where more graves are that are unmarked,” Lusink said.
She said the historical society held fundraisers over the summer to be able to afford having names cut into the granite.
Montague said that “as a family, we were able to afford to make sure we had a headstone for our parents, but a lot of people were not in the financial position to do that back in the day. Money was so tight, they couldn’t even afford a headstone. They would just mark a grave with a rock or whatever they could find.”
Over the course of the cemetery reclamation, Lusink said the society was able to mark 26 previously unmarked graves.
“When I became president (of the historical society), this was something I really wanted to get done,” Lusink said. “You’ve got all these folks out here, and many of them have family here. Their family didn’t have the means to mark a grave. This way, future generations will know, and they can come out here and say, that was my relative.”
Added Lusink, gesturing toward the cemetery: “We’re also preserving this very important piece of the past.”