Barnesville Students Clean Civil War Tombstones for Service Project

BARNESVILLE – Twenty junior students and one senior from a contemporary issues class at Barnesville High School cleaned and helped restore the tombstones of 31 Civil War soldiers buried in Southern Cemetery in Barnesville recently as a service project which, according to teacher Nick Saffield, became an educational learning experience as well.

This was the second time Saffield has taken his class to the cemetery to do cleaning work. Last fall the class cleaned eight headstones at the suggestion of Saffield’s mother, Sandy Saffield, president of the Belmont County Chapter of the Ohio Geological Society, to mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Her group helped provide funding for the project. The City of Barnesville also provided cleaning materials and supplies.

“They really get an education,” Saffield said. “For example, they were all surprised to find the the cemetery was segregated and a lot of other little things with historical value as well. It gives them a little more perspective on what the veterans did for them and it gives them a sense of purpose. They also learned some little things about their hometown they didn’t know about.”

One of the stones which was cleaned was for Dr. James Warfield. It reads, “Freemason, Retail Drug Business, Surgeon and Mayor 1867-1868, Co. S 77th Regt. OVI Civil War, born Nov. 26, 1811 died Oct. 26, 1871.”

Saffield said a lower section of the cemetery is where black soldiers were buried. This year students worked on two of their graves, while last year three were cleaned. He said two Confederate soldiers are buried in the cemetery and research is going to be done to find out why the brothers were buried in the North.

There are a total of about 70 Civil War veterans buried in the cemetery.

“We want to do as many of the Civil War stones as we can,” Saffield said. “This has worked out real well. The number we’re doing is increasing. Hopefully, in the future, we will be able to continue to clean the stones for World War I, World War II, and Korean War veterans.”

“It’s been a fantastic experience,” said student Nichole Markovich.

“It has been a real eye-opener to see all the people that served who are here,” classmate Canarissia Cline added.

Sandy Saffield said she is glad to see students getting something out of the project.

“They’re enjoying it and they are very surprised at what they’re finding,” she said. “Some of them are even doing research on their own on the soldiers whose stones they’ve cleaned up. They are doing a wonderful job.”