A local group is preserving history in Henry County – one gravestone at a time.

A local group is preserving history in Henry County – one gravestone at a time.

Volunteers and Hanna Township officials are restoring gravestones in Hanna Township Cemetery, tucked away off Wolf Road in rural Colona’s Bullock Addition. A grassed 100-foot easement leads between the houses to the hidden cemetery.

For their efforts, the volunteers are the 2017 recipients of this year’s National Society of the Daughter’s of the American Revolution Community Service Award. They were honored at a recent meting of the DAR held in the Cambridge Public Library.

The men were nominated for the award by DAR member Barbara Searle who said, “The Hanna Cemetery is quite historic. Many of the Hanna family are buried there. The Hanna family came to Henry County in 1835 and the township is named for them.

“Because these men are preserving a piece of important history, I believe they need to be honored by the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution for their service,” she said.

In addition to members of the Hanna family, the cemetery also is where George Brandenburg is buried, whose name appears in many early accounts of Henry County as the proprietor of Brandenburg’s Tavern at Colona Township, the county’s first post office and first polling place where the settlers voted to form the county on June 9, 1837.

Hanna Township Cemetery is the final resting place for many of Henry County’s earliest settlers, but years of wind and weather have taken a toll on the gravestones.

The volunteers who are repairing the gravestones are digging new holes and putting in the new stones alongside the faded original markers. The original gravestones remain in place at Hanna Township Cemetery, while the new stones are placed adjacent and serve as supplemental identifying markers.

The original stones will remain in place as they are part of the history of the area.

The new markers are purchased with money from Hanna Township, and according to Hanna Township supervisor Jesse Crouch, the township spent less than $100 each on the markers, through a special price from Geneseo Monument and Bronze. To fill in the blanks when they couldn’t read names, they used a list provided by the Henry County Genealogical Society whose members did a cemetery inventory in 1990.

The volunteer group has completed 30 gravestones with 15 yet to be replaced.

Cheryl Chamberlain, chairman of the Geneseo Chapter Community Service Award Committee, said the purpose of the Community Service Award is to recognize worthy local people from a variety of walks of life for outstanding achievements in educational, humanitarian, patriotic, historical or citizenship endeavors.

The recipient is expected to have contributed to his or her community in an outstanding voluntary, heroic, civic or benevolent manner or participated in or organized community activities.

“Our chapter is proud to present this award to such deserving people in our community,” she said.