Eastern Kentucky University geography professor Dr. Dan Weir has developed a project for mapping and identifying the 200-plus burial plots in the Old Soldier’s Cemetery as part of a renovation effort. Weir, along with EKU geography students, Boys and Girls club members and Richmond Rotary club members, used GPS units to map the site and determine the position of the tombs.
The Old Soldier’s Cemetery has housed tombs of black soldiers and war veterans for more than 130 years. The cemetery has lacked proper maintenance for several decades and was abandoned to decay and vandalism. Now, nearly two-thirds of the headstones are missing, and the number of people buried at the site, as well as the identity of many, is unknown. Weir is hoping that, by determining the latitude and longitude of each existing headstone and plotting it into a map of the cemetery, the group will be able to fill in the blanks as to the location of the unmarked graves. Part of the project involves talking to area residents about whether they have family or friends buried there. Ryan Burns, senior geography major at EKU, entered all the data into the computer using the GIS, which uses the information to plot a detailed map of the site.