One by one the abandoned military markers were loaded on a truck at the Richmond County Coroner Office Wednesday to be taken to local cemeteries.
The process to match the 114 markers with their grave sites began last month after they were found at the old Dent’s Undertaking Establishment in May. Coroner Mark Bowen and his office has been mainly in charge of matching the markers with their grave sites.
“It’s been a community effort,” Bowen said. “We’ve gotten assistance from the Augusta Chronicle, Don Rhodes has done a fabulous job helping us. “The media has done great getting it out and families have responded to us and helped us out.”
Rhodes, a newspaper columnist, found information on about 37 markers, with the majority at South View and Cedar Grove, using Augusta Chronicle archives. Bowen said they most difficult part has been finding the graves and which cemetery the markers need to go. He said once they found the location, it became an easy process, but he credited the community for the help.
The markers were sent to local cemeteries, with 40 to South View and 19 to Cedar Grove. Bowen said most of the markers are going to Richmond County cemeteries. He acknowledged the cemeteries’ cooperation in placing the markers.
“As soon as we can get them to the cemeteries, they can put them on the graves for the families. For the ones that want them and need them, they can go ahead and place them on the graves and give them what they need,” Bowen said. “They’ve been as helpful as possible.”
Some of the graves are located out of state and out of county. Bowen said those family members will need to make arrangements to pick them up because he won’t be able to send them.
There are still two markers left to match, as of Wednesday. Bowen said his office doesn’t know where they are buried.
Bowen said he is proud of the work his staff has done and that they’ve been able to match and deliver almost all of the markers.
“They’ve really come together as a team and worked hard,” he said. “It’s been rewarding to see everybody come together, work together as a team, knowing we are helping families.”
Bowen requested help from the inmate crew supervisor to load the markers and transport them to the cemeteries. All the markers for Richmond County are expected to delivered Wednesday, with the rest being distributed over time.
The markers were found May 18 by a Richmond County Marshal’s Office deputy in the garage of the old Dent’s funeral home on D’Antignac Street. Dent’s was the city’s oldest black-owned funeral home before it was closed in 2008 due to tax problems. Former owner, Thomasina Ketch, died in 2014.
Markers dated back to the 1960s and included veterans from World War I, World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars. The funeral home was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990 and the property is owned by Augusta Land Bank Authority.
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