Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Adam Farence afarence@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @afarence on Twit­ter

For Bruce Rea­son and Al Ter­rell, the sight of the cleaned up Ebenezer African Methodist Epis­co­pal Church ceme­tery on Satur­day was a wel­come one

EAST WHITE­LAND >> Dur­ing a hum­ble au­tumn af­ter­noon, a small cer­e­mony paid homage to a long since aban­doned grave­yard hous­ing AfricanAmer­i­can Civil War vet­er­ans, and oth­ers whose names have been lost to time and ero­sion.

For Bruce Rea­son and Al Ter­rell, the sight of the cleaned up Ebenezer African Methodist Epis­co­pal Church ceme­tery on Satur­day was a wel­come one.

Rea­son, 56, of East White­land pointed to one of the leg­i­ble head­stones bear­ing the name of one African-Amer­i­can Civil War vet­eran, Joshua John­son, 1846-1916, and said he was re­lated.

“It feels great,” he said about the site of the cleaned up ceme­tery. “I waited years for some­one to come along (and clean up the grave­yard).”

The per­son who came along and led the clean-up ef­fort was Hen­der­son High School sopho­more Luke Phayre.

Phayre, a mem­ber of the Wil­lis­town Boy Scout Troop 78, had been look­ing for a project to com­plete so he could be­come an Ea­gle Scout.

And Ter­rell, him­self a for­mer as­sis­tant scout­mas­ter work­ing on re­join­ing the troop, sug­gested to Phayre that he clean up the grave­yard as his own son, An­drew did al­most two decades ear­lier.

“I thought it was a great thing to do, to honor the sol­diers buried here,” Phayre said.

“You couldn’t even see this (gravesite) from the street.”

The gravesite and the ru­ins of the old church sit along­side North Bac­ton Hill Road, near where the road in­ter­sects with Route 401.

Start­ing in Au­gust, Phayre and other vol­un­teers worked to fig­ure out who tech­ni­cally owns the aban­doned prop­erty, get per­mis­sion from the own­ers, and to clean up the grave­yard and crum­bling stone church laden with over­grown na­ture.

His ef­forts were rec­og­nized Wed­nes­day when at 1 p.m., a cer­e­mony led by the com­man­der of the West Ch­ester Amer­i­can Le­gion Post 134, re­tired Air Force Capt. Howard Craw­ford.

The cer­e­mony also served as a way to honor the dead. It in­cluded a color guard pre­sen­ta­tion, gun salute, and memo­rial prayer.

Mem­bers of sev­eral dif­fer­ent or­ga­ni­za­tions, in­clud­ing the Vet­er­ans of For­eign Wars and the Marine Corps League par­tic­i­pated in the cer­e­mony. Three East White­land po­lice of­fi­cers were also present.

Phayre said he had help from the West Ch­ester Univer­sity Vet­er­ans Group, the univer­sity rugby team, and a univer­sity fra­ter­nity, as well as his friends to help clean up the gravesite.

But work on the Ebenezer grave­yard is not yet com­plete. Ter­rell and his fam­ily plan to keep work­ing on the gravesite.

“We’re hop­ing to re­store the church,” Ter­rell said.

Rea­son hopes the in­creased at­ten­tion given to Ebenezer will help add a new per­spec­tive to his­tory.

“There’s a lot of rich African-Amer­i­can his­tory here,” Rea­son said.


Al Ter­rell salutes the grave of African-Amer­i­can Civil War vet­eran Joshua John­son.


Part of the cer­e­mony in­cluded a gun salute to honor the dead.

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