Jane Crist continues cemetery restoration

Justin Frost, Jane Crist, and Lane Leach are hard at work repairing headstones.

By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe

Jane Crist continues her effort to clean headstones and markers, and with help from a professional historical restorer, her project has broadened to repairing broken pieces. This work is personal for Crist; she is a descendent of the Munn family which came to the area in the 1800’s.

Crist had been focusing her efforts in the Schoolcraft Township Cemetery on the southwest side of Vicksburg, also known as the Vicksburg Cemetery. When tending her family’s section several years ago, she began noticing the filth and moss on stones, making names and dates unreadable. She then began cleaning headstones after conducting research and receiving permission from the township.

Crist’s attention has recently moved to Jenkinson Cemetery, east of Vicksburg High School on East W Avenue, when the condition of the headstones was brought to her attention. Markers are broken. Some are buried beneath the soil, and many are hidden under vines and brush at the edge of the woods which borders part of the cemetery.

Crist sensed the urgency of the project, realizing work needed to be done before it was too late. To complicate the process, cemetery records were lost in a fire years ago. A year ago, she contacted Justin Frost, a trained preservationist, who came to Vicksburg last fall to meet Crist and visit the Schoolcraft Township Cemetery and historical village. This summer she again contacted Frost, owner of Past Preservation. He joined her efforts the weekend of August 27. Frost volunteered his time and brought equipment, including a scaffold he has designed to lift stones, placing and securing them in their original design.

Financial contributions from area residents helped supply the cleaning solutions. Family Fare donated water and Jaspare’s Pizza provided pizza for the hungry crew. Crist is thankful for all of it.

Each headstone which is restored is significant and powerfully emotional for Crist, who often pauses to wipe her tears. This has become her mission: preserving history.

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