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Jeff Wiehe | The Journal Gazette
Neal McKeeman points out grave markers to Cindy Gravatt and Troy McDonald before a ceremony Tuesday to honor a Civil War veteran and rededicate Pleasant Valley Cemetery outside Hoagland.

Hoagland cemetery rededicated after cleanup

Jeff Wiehe | The Journal Gazette
Members of the American Legion in Rome City and Veterans of Foreign Wars in Kendallville honor a Civil War vet.

– Nobody knows if anyone played taps before they buried James McConaughy, or if there were any rifle salutes at his funeral.

There might have been, but some who came to pay their respects on a cold and blustery Tuesday afternoon said it was highly doubtful.

We know this about one James McConaughy:

He was born in 1840 to John and Margaret McConaughy and died Nov. 8, 1895.

In between, according to records, he served in the Civil War.

After his death, he was buried near his parents in Pleasant Valley Cemetery, a small plot of ground outside Hoagland that became overrun with garbage and weeds over the years.

Tuesday, about a dozen honor guard members of the combined American Legion Post 381 in Rome City and VFW Post 2749 in Kendallville lined up with rifles ready.

They were there to honor McConaughy’s service and also there to rededicate the cemetery, which had been cleaned up this year thanks to Madison Township Trustee Troy McDonald.

After a bugler played taps and guard members placed a flag and star at McConaughy’s grave, they shot off rifles to complete the salute.

“It’s an honor for us to come here and do this,” said James McClure, a member of the honor guard.

Cindy Gravatt, a member of the Mary Penrose Wayne Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, also paid a visit to the cemetery.

Her group has spent five years documenting all the cemeteries in Allen County, taking more than 167,000 photos in the process.

At one point, Gravatt and others came to Pleasant Valley and were astonished at what they found, writing on the group’s website that the cemetery “was a disgrace.”

But Tuesday she saw the long-ago-broken gravestones that had been gently placed in the middle of the cemetery, the trimmed trees and the lack of litter over the graves.

“It looks amazing,” Gravatt said. “They did a wonderful job.”

Also on hand was McDonald, who undertook the task of cleaning up the cemetery.

He acknowledged that it was his obligation as the township trustee.

Until roughly a year ago, though, he did not know it fell into his jurisdiction.

Trustees before him did not take care of the cemetery, and some of the elderly throughout Hoagland told him the cemetery had looked that bad for eons.

Nobody knew when it was abandoned or how it fell into disrepair.

“I can’t say it was always fun,” McDonald said of the work, which he took on with his girlfriend, while speaking with a group of people. “The poison oak was bad.”

Everything was worth it, though, especially Tuesday.

After a 10-minute ceremony, the honor guard members loaded up their rifles, got into their cars and trucks and began heading back to where they came from.

They have been a part of at least 40 military funerals this year, McClure said, and could not pass up the chance to honor a Civil War vet.

“There’s no question we’d be here,” he said.

Now, there’s no question that James McConaughy had taps played for him.

And there’s no question that the military veteran was the recipient of a proper rifle salute.