HUMBOLDT — A little research, loads of persistence and an abundance of teamwork have helped preserve two pieces of Humboldt history.
Thomas Young, a Humboldt High School senior working on his Eagle Scout badge, helped lead the first, an effort to clean up a largely neglected cemetery just outside town.
The small plot of land, officially known as the Evan H. Young Cemetery — others call it the Daniel Deal Cemetery, in honor of one of the Civil War soldiers buried there — is familiar to local history buffs, but not many others.
Young hopes to change that.
He organized efforts to clear out scores of trees and dense undergrowth to clear a pathway to the cemetery, about 300 yards off the southwest corner of the Humboldt Municipal Golf Course.
“It took a while because of the weather,” Young explained. “And there was a lot to do.”
Work ran from May through October, requiring volunteers of all sorts. Several of his fellow Boy Scouts were a part of the effort, as were other family members, B&W Trailer Hitches employees and members of the local Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War chapter.
Young counts at least 24 graves in the football field-sized cemetery, although only three full tombstones remain.
Records indicate those interred died in the latter half of the 1800s, most in the years after the Civil War ended. Deal was one of three Civil War vets buried there.
OVERLOOKED cemeteries are more common than most realize. A cursory online search identifies 30 cemeteries in Allen County alone.
Some are family plots, much like the Evan H. Young site may have been. The Deal, Baland, Myers and Young clans all have several buried there.
(As an aside, Vinetta Young, Thomas Young’s mother, is researching where her family has a direct connection to the Youngs buried at the cemetery.)
But with this boneyard so far off the beaten path and largely inaccessible (until now), upkeep was nonexistent for nearly a century.
There were efforts before. Eve Kranenberg, a descendant of Daniel Deal living in Texas, made several trips to Allen County in the mid-1970s in an effort to clean up the old boneyard. But that work eventually ended, followed by another 40-plus years of neglect.
Even worse, Young said he found evidence of vandalism, he suspects from young curiosity-seekers.
But the cemetery wasn’t completely off the radar of local officials.
In fact, city leaders had approached Michael Young, Thomas’s older brother, about leading a cleanup effort for Michael’s Eagle Scout project nearly three years ago.
The elder brother decided instead to focus on placing benches on a nearby pond.
The focus then shifted on simply making a plaque about the cemetery, and posting it at the much larger Mount Hope Cemetery just off Hawaii Road.
“But Thomas decided he wanted to try it,” said Julie Hoddy, Thomas Young’s aunt and local scout leader..
THE OUTSIDE help made it all possible.
“It was harder than it looked,” Young said.
B&W donated rock for the walking path, cement for a small bridge to cross a slough about halfway to the cemetery, and even helped make up signage to mark the entrance, complete with a directory to help visitors know who is buried there.
Joe Works also allowed use of heavy equipment to do much of the clearing, Hoddy said.
Work would have continued, but there was a deadline. The project had to be complete before Young’s 18th birthday in December, the cutoff date for prospective Eagle Scouts, Hoddy said.
Even now, with the walkway complete, work remains to be done in helping clean up the land.
“It’s pretty rough looking, but that’s where we had to stop,” Hoddy said.
Young hopes to see another volunteer or group pick up the baton to do more cleanup.
An effort also is afoot to have the cemetery certified as a spot for the Kansas State Historical Society.
AS FOR Young, who has been involved in Scouting most of his life, he suspects the Eagle Scout project will be his last such endeavor with the organization.
But first, a Scouting Board of Review must pore over his project work, the final step before he becomes a full-fledged Eagle Scout, the highest rank a Boy Scout can achieve.
“I’m proud of it,” he said.
After high school graduation, he plans to enroll in technical school to become a diesel technician.
THE SONS OF Civil War Veterans group had another project in its crosshairs last year: helping refurbish an 1863 McClurg Walking Stick Cannon, located at the entrance to the Humboldt Historical Society Museum complex.
The McClurg, manufactured in Pittsburgh, Pa., is one of only four known such cannons still in existence.
Spearheading that work was Todd Mintz, Jim Woods, Frank Schomaker and Robert Boyd II, with a hefty assist from Sherwin Williams of Chanute.
The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War are looking for other projects for 2023, Boyd said.
Those with ideas or suggestions can contact Boyd at (620) 212-6455.