NORTH JACKSON, Ohio (WKBN) – On this Memorial Day, when many take time to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, one local woman is doing her part to remember those who served.
Dianne Carman, of Austintown, said her love of genealogy led her to start researching local cemeteries to see who is buried there. When she gets the chance, she goes out with her bag of tools and cleaning supplies to clear away the overgrown brush, grass and mud so others can see the headstones and pay their proper respects.
Her labor of love began six years ago. Since then, she has cleaned 4,000 grave sites in the North Jackson cemetery over four summers, as well as thousands more scattered around the Mahoning and Shenango Valleys that she has been visiting over the years.
“I have been known to come out and spend as many as six to eight hours out here,” she said.
Carman is especially interested in those who served in the military. Her research led her to the grave site of Jacob Moyer, who fought in the War of 1812.
“He owned… 50 acres out here in North Jackson. He married and raised nine children here,” she said.
Working by herself, Carman cleared away the overgrown brush and grass, cutting back the hearty, long-living yucca plants that dot the cemetery.
“Back in the day, when people couldn’t afford headstones, they would plant a yucca plant as a marker,” she said.
When she finishes cleaning up the sites, Carman usually photographs them and uploads the information to Findagrave.com, a website used for finding particular gravestones. Over the years, she has cataloged more than 5,600 photographs.
Carman said she feels a kinship to those whose graves she maintains. With thousands of online requests for local cemeteries, Carman plans to continue what she is doing.
“I can’t explain it, but I just feel a connection to that person. I feel like they know I’m there. They know they’re being remembered,” she said.