E.J. Adams of Carthage, Texas, spends his days cleaning up forgotten cemeteries. He uses an age-old technique to locate unmarked graves. Dowsing rods guide him as he slowly treads through the cemeteries. He began cemetery cleanup work in 2005. That’s when he restored his family’s cemetery, and he couldn’t stop at just one. Today, his process is streamlined and comprehensive.
“We completely clear the grounds, and then we level the grounds and clear all the debris. We dowse the area, find the graves, and mark them," Adams said, during a recent interview at Gary Family Cemetery in Carthage. "We put up cinder block head markers, and many of them put flowers out."
Adams has overhauled 12 cemeteries in Panola County. He says his work is far from over. He wants to branch out into other counties and establish accountability for what’s been done so far.
"We're not only going to restore every cemetery, we're going to put a custodian over every cemetery," Adams said. "We'll have our meetings to make sure everyone is on the same page, and to make sure that these cemeteries never revert back to the forest."
Adams is not slowing down at age 81. But he is recruiting volunteers who could donate time and money to the cause of preserving East Texas ancestry, one grave marker at a time.
REPORTING BY CHRIS KEATING
Community Correspondent - Carthage, Texas