Vincent ROTC assists with Bailey Cemetery cleanup

Published 12:54 pm Tuesday, May 2, 2023

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By NOAH WORTHAM | Staff Writer

VINCENT – On April 15, members of the Vincent ROTC joined the Vincent Historical and Environmental Society in work to clean up the historic Bailey Cemetery.

“This was a day dedicated to hard work to clean the cemetery and what a day it was,” said Judy Naugle, president of the Vincent Historical Environmental Society. “These young students arrived at 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning when they could have been sleeping late or having fun. They worked tirelessly, without a single complaint, and the cemetery looks so beautiful.”

Approximately 30 students from the Vincent ROTC participated in the clean-up. During the event, students also had an opportunity to hear a history lesson about the cemetery from Peter Datcher.

“Thank you, Sergeant Gilbert, Sergeant Thomas and ROTC members,” Naugle said in a Facebook post. “Thank you to everyone that loaned us tools and thank you to members of Vincent Historical.”

The Vincent Historical and Environmental Society initially chose the cemetery as a service project and began work on it in the summer of 2011.

“That began our commitment to the cemetery,” Naugle said. “At the time, we estimated 50-60 graves. After seeing the site cleared,  The Alabama Cemetery Preservation Alliance estimated 1,000 graves.”

The cemetery, which is located near the intersection of Shelby County 85 and Shelby County 62, holds tombstone markers with death years from as early as 1840. Many of the graves are unmarked and hold slaves or former slaves who resided in the area shortly after the War of 1812.

Many birthdates on the markers date back to 1775-1796, approximately the time of the American Revolution, according to Glenn Niven, president of the Alabama Cemetery Preservation Alliance.

“We were so blessed and excited to have Vincent ROTC join with us last Saturday (April 15) for a much-needed refreshment of the Bailey (Cemetery),” Naugle said. “The entire group was dedicated to the project. To say the day was rewarding is an understatement.”

During the next VHES meeting on June 15, they will honor the students as well as Gilbert and Thomas for their contribution, Naugle said.