BEAR GAP — Boy Scouts from Troop 247, Elysburg, recently improved a Quaker cemetery dating back to 1844.
Scout Joseph Lobos, 17, of Elysburg, led the project to install a walkway, a bench and signs at the Bear Gap Quaker Cemetery off Bear Hollow Road in Ralpho Township as part of his Eagle Scout requirements.
Owned by the Pensyl family, the burial ground of the John’s family contains 15 marked graves and additional stones without inscriptions. The oldest known person laid to rest was Abia John, who was born Nov. 14, 1811, and died Dec. 18, 1883. It was on May 25, 1844, that the first burial was held upon the death of Ezra John.
Lobos said the cemetery had become reclaimed by nature and a repair of the site was recommended last summer by Scoutmaster Scott Kramer, who has overseen the Troop’s annual placement of American flags at nearby All Saints Cemetery during Memorial Day weekend.
“Everything was overgrown and a sign had rotted,” Lobos said of the Quaker cemetery. “It was also hard to see from the road.”
Lobos set a project budget of $1,400 with a 15 percent contingency last summer. A total of $1,600 was donated by individuals, businesses and the Ralpho Township Business Association as a result of a door-to-door campaign.
Work began this spring and continued throughout the summer. The hardest part of the project, Lobos said, was the placement of a 110-foot gravel walkway bordered by treated lumber. Scouts were assisted by Troop leaders and members of the Crable family, he added.
The path ends at two signs near the gravesites. One sign shows the symbols for Quaker Peace and Social Justice, and American Friends Service Committee that are positioned below the name of the cemetery. The other sign is a burial group key. The signs were created with the assistance of a friend and Knoebels Amusement Resort, Lobos said.
Other improvements to the cemetery were the installation of a large bench made of treated lumber, weed cutting and branch removal. Ten volunteers logged 108 man-hours, including 20 by Lobos.
“I like to think it looks better. It’s a lot more noticeable,” Lobos said. “I spoke with the beneficiaries (Pensyl family) and they said more people are visiting the cemetary.”
Following the completion of the project, Lobos presented project details to a review board as part of the process to become an Eagle Scout. He earned the highest rank in the Boy Scouting program in August.
Lobos thanked members of his Troop, volunteers and anyone who donated toward the project.