SPRINGCREEK TOWNSHIP — A veteran from Champaign County visited the African Jackson Cemetery in the historic Rossville area on Thursday to help clean up old graves that had recently been uncovered by cadaver dogs.
“I was a veteran. I served myself,” Bruce Johnson of Terre Haute, Ohio, said.
Johnson was inspired to help clean up the cemetery as a way to honor the veterans’ graves at the cemetery, including veterans who fought in the Civil War for the Union. Johnson was deployed twice through the Army National Guard to serve in Operation Desert Storm and Operation Joint Endeavor, both of which took place in the 1990s.
“They served. It’s historical. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be where we are today,” Johnson said, adding that he was not there for the recognition.
Johnson brought a lawnmower and weed-eater to clear out the brush at a wooded area at the top of the cemetery, which is located off of Zimmerlin Road, where other graves had been uncovered.
Johnson heard reports on Wednesday that the cemetery was not being maintained, but Springcreek Township Trustee Michael Havenar said that they have been maintaining that cemetery for years. Havenar explained there was a wooded area of the cemetery, though, that the township was not aware contained additional graves until cadaver dogs were brought out and alerted them to the additional graves.
“We maintain them. We mow them,” Havenar said.
The township’s maintenance man was also at the cemetery on Thursday helping to clean up and clear out the brush at the cemetery. Havenar added that each of the five cemeteries that they maintain are mowed and have the weeds cut down every week.
Rossville was once home to the Randolph freed slaves, a group of almost 400 emancipated people and survivors of slavery on the Roanoke Plantation in Virginia in the 1820s. They left Virginia for approximately 2,000 acres of purchased land in Mercer County, but they were forced to leave that area and resettle north of Piqua at Rossville, a location also referred to as the Randolph Slave Settlement.
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