Matthew Barnes digs to find the base of a corner stone while his grandmother, Jutta Slemp, left, and Hunter Cemetery Board Member Julia Bennington, right, look on.

When Matthew started on this marker the names were not visible.

Matthew Barnes and his mother, Carrie Karg, work to reset a corner stone at Hunter Cemetery.

It’s not every day you meet a 14 year old who has a passion for restoring grave markers, but Matthew Barnes is that exception. Matthew is the son of Carrie Karg and Joel Barnes and the grandson of Jutta and Douglas Slemp and Carol Barnes and the late Kenneth Barnes. A freshman at Clarinda High School, Clarinda, Iowa, Matthew started volunteering at the Nodaway Valley Historical Museum and developed a passion for restoring grave markers in the area cemeteries with the help from Director Trish Okamoto. This is part of the Museum’s Adopt a Grave program.
Matthew started doing some genealogy research on his family and the name Dragoo came up. He later found that there was a family plot in the Hunter Cemetery that is on the outer road just south of Rock Port. The plot sits at the top of the cemetery surrounded by a cement wall.
When they arrived at the cemetery, they found that the names on the marker were barely visible and several of the corner markers appeared to either be missing or buried. Matthew, along with his mother, Carrie, and grandmother, Jutta, started working on the main marker spraying a product called D/2 Biological Solution. This is specially formulated to remove biological soiling such as mold, mildew, algae, and lichen and environmental pollution, dirt, and staining from air pollutants from indoor and outdoor structures. With a brush and a spray bottle and a sprayer full of water they began working on the monument and years of build-up started coming off. Following that, Matthew started looking for the corner markers and as he started probing the ground he was able to locate each of them, which had, overtime, become covered. With a little digging he was able to get them out of the  ground and clean them before placing them back it their proper place.
While he worked on the markers, Matthew began telling some of the history of the D.C. Dragoo family. Mr Dragoo served in the Civil War and later, when he moved to Atchison County, he was a builder. One house he built was the John Dickerson Dopf mansion.
Matthew is planning on finishing the work to the Dragoo marker and he said there were about 4 or 5 more grave stones he wanted to clean and restore in Hunter Cemetery.