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Chester County Press

Conservancy collaborating on restoration of historic cemetery

08/02/2016 11:27AM ● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw
Staff Writer

If you happen to drive by the historic Bucktoe Civil War Cemetery in New Garden Township this summer and see some young people there digging things up, fear not. They are doing some great things there.
In collaboration with the Chester County Intermediate Unit’s (CCIU) Migrant Education Program, The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County (TLC) is working with 24 students from the program to restore the cemetery, and excavate the foundation of the original New Garden Memorial UAME Church.
The students are assisting TLC staff with archaeological digs of the front foundation and in the center of the church. Learning and using proper excavation techniques, students have uncovered pieces of window glass, cut nails, and mortar that held the church walls together. Participating students have also helped uncover multiple stones in the cemetery that are believed to be the headstones of previous Kennett area residents.
The cemetery serves as the final resting place of nine African American Civil War soldiers, and approximately 120 other residents from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
The cemetery and church site is owned by the New Garden Memorial UAME Church, which began on the site. The church burned in 1904, which forced the congregation to move to its current location on Linden Street in Kennett Square.
The TLC is no stranger to the cemetery. In 2010, it partnered with New Garden Memorial UAME Church to begin the restoration of the cemetery, and this year marks the TLC's third collaboration with the CCIU on the program, which fosters an appreciation of history, teaches students the importance of preserving it for future generations, and provides them with hands-on experience in archeology and restoration.
The TLC is also working with restoration specialist Eugene Hough on the project.
The remaining weeks of the program will focus on documenting items found at the original site, measuring the fondation, and a final student presentation, which will be in front of the students' parents.
The program is being funded by CCRES and the Sara Bowers Fund. Based in Downingtown, CCRES provides quality services to students and families, many dealing with Autism, and works in collaboration with school districts, intermediate units and the behavioral health system throughout southeastern Pennsylvania.
The Sara Bowers Fund was established by the Kennett Monthly Meeting from a generous bequest left by Sara Bowers. Grants from the fund are awarded by Kennett Meeting through the Sara Bowers Committee, for causes and needs which advance the principles and testimonies of the Society of Friends, and which promote the growth and strength of Kennett Monthly Meeting
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail