Volunteers clean Rose Hill Cemetery gravesites, learn history in process

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John Appell tours cemeteries throughout the US, teaching people how to clean and preserve gravesites. 

MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) — A group gathered in Rose Hill Cemetery to clean up and learn how to preserve gravestones.

“In a way makes me feel like I’m giving back and that the people that are here haven’t been forgotten,” said John Appell, owner of Atlas Preservation.

Appell is touring 48 states nationwide to show people proper cleaning techniques for graveyards.

“People want to be able to read them,” Appell said. “They want to pay respect to their ancestors or people that lived here in earlier time periods. And if they become hard to read or unsightly, they lose a lot of their context.”

Volunteers spent time learning about different types of gravestones, and how to treat them.

The group also focused on family graves, and each person got to pick what stones they cleaned.

Cale Holloway says that the gravestones helped him learn about his own family history. He hopes to help other people by cleaning the graves at Rose Hill.

“Preserving your history is something that needs to be done,” Holloway said. “That way you can go back and take a look at it. it definitely needs to impact the community.”

Suzanne Davis says as a Georgia studies teacher she enjoys volunteering to clean the graves for her students.

“I come down here and I see markers,” Davis said. “And then I’m like wait, they’re tied into our curriculum. So as a result, I may take pictures and work it into our curriculum so that the students can see that as well.”

Appell and Rose Hill volunteers encourage people to clean up cemeteries near them. They also encourage using gravesites as museums rather than places to bury our dead.

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Peyton Lewis is a 20-year-old reporter from Stockbridge, Georgia. She graduated in December of 2019 with her Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from the University of Georgia. She found a love for reporting after receiving a video camera for her 8th birthday. She and her friends would make mock newscasts in her backyard other creative content. Peyton's love for writing and creating videos pushed her to pursue journalism. In order to kick-start her dream of being a reporter, she left the traditional high school experience at the age of 16 to attend Gordon State College as a full-time student. She graduated with her Associate's degree two weeks before graduating from high school. Previously, Peyton worked as a news intern for 11 Alive in Atlanta, a radio intern for the Joy FM, and a reporter/ technical manager for Grady Newsource. Peyton dreams to become an investigative reporter that leaves a lasting impact on the world around her. She loves Disney, dogs, spicy food, musicals, and her family. Peyton also enjoys reading, watching movies, cheering on the Dawgs, and going on new adventures.