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Manatee County preserves history with headstone cleaning

Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 9:46 PM EDT
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BRADENTON, Fla. (WWSB) - The history of Manatee County lies just off Manatee Avenue and 15th Street. It’s a history the county is hoping to preserve with a program to clean gravestones.

“There are a lot of stories from that, you know, if we didn’t know their names, if we weren’t sure where their graves were, we wouldn’t have those stories,” Rachel DeRosier said.

DeRosier is the event coordinator at Manatee Village Historical Park, an organization that signs volunteers up to clean gravestones at the Manatee Burying Site.

DeRosier points to a headstone cleaned Thursday morning. They believed the first name read “Ross,” but upon cleaning, discovered it said “Rosa.”

“And that’s a big deal because when you’re researching genealogy and trying to figure out who a person was, that’s a big difference,” DeRosier said.

When volunteers sign up, staff take them into the lot with safe cleaning materials and get to work.

And visitors are starting to notice.

“People died. Their relatives died. So they are just neglected,” visitor Terry Bartolotta said. “And this happens to be in a historic area, so it’ll be taken care of.”

The last volunteer opportunity before hurricane season and the hottest months of the year is Friday.

Interested volunteers can sign up on Manatee Village’s website.

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