Eagle Scout documents history at Old Clarkesville Cemetery

Joseph McGahee, a member of the Clarkesville Boy Scout Troop No. 5 is shown working on his Eagle Scout project at the Old Clarkesville Cemetery. McGahee, with the help of volunteers, is building a display illustrating the story of the community and the country. Counting the rings from a native hemlock tree stump to mark a specific timeline, the slice will be suspended in a structure that mirrors the design of the cemetery’s entrance arbor. The tree was estimated to be 158-159 years old when it died and was removed from the cemetery in 2017. 

An Eagle Scout project led by Tallulah Falls School ninth-grader Joseph McGahee of Clarkesville BSA Troop No. 5 is taking shape at the Old Clarkesville Cemetery.
McGahee is preparing to display a slice from a native hemlock tree stump to illustrate the story of the community and the country.
Members of the troop gathered on Aug. 23 to raise the shelter framework for the display, with the roof installed on Aug. 29.
Counting the rings from the long-downed tree from the cemetery, McGahee has estimated the age of the tree at 158-159 years.
Matching significant events in local and U.S. history to display alongside the heart of the tree, the scout is intent upon raising awareness of the cemetery’s significance.
“I wanted to take this project and be able to show the beauty of Georgia’s old hemlocks and to show the age of these trees,” McGahee said. “I also wanted to bring more awareness to the cemetery; it is a beautiful cemetery but few people know about it. I hope this project will make a great impact for the cemetery and more people will go to see its beauty.”
McGahee is working closely with members of the Historic Clarkesville Cemetery Preservation, Inc. board, specifically Brooks Garcia, who leads all botanical-related projects to plan and implement the project.
“This project has surpassed my wildest expectations,” Garcia said. “It is a tremendous asset for the cemetery.”
Supplies, construction expertise and labor donated through local vendors and individuals made the project possible, according to McGahee, including McAllister Tree Service, Reeves Hardware, Jamie Ivester, Tim and Ethan Simmons, members of Troop No. 5 and Buz Stone, a Rabun County craftsman. Stone donated specialty wood, other materials, shop space and hours of time over seven weekends thus far.
Stone is already working with the cemetery board on other projects, including the entrance arbor and a planned fence to encompass three sides of the site.
“We are thrilled to have Joseph’s project as a visible reminder of the cemetery’s significance in the community,” said HCCP, Inc. Chair and Clarkesville Mayor Barrie Aycock. “We appreciate the community’s ongoing support as we continue the important work of restoring and preserving this historic landmark.
Fundraising for the fence and other improvements is ongoing with a fundraising campaign set for September 15-October 15, Aycock added.
The interpretive exhibit is located on the E. Morgan Street side of the cemetery, near the entrance arbor.
For more information about the Old Clarkesville Cemetery, visit oldclarkesvillecemetery.com.

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