Sidney man restoring gravestones, to give presentation Tuesday


CYNTHIAN TWP. — Sometime in the late 1970’s, Brant Fahnestock’s father, Jack Fahnestock, took him to Angel Street Cemetery. The cemetery is located on Cecil Road in between state Route 47 and Wright-Moyer Road.

Jack Fahnestock led his son over to an empty grassy area between other gravestones and near a fence. There, Fahnestock learned his father’s sister, Dorothy Wanda Fahnestock, was buried there after dying in 1923 when she was six months old. A gravestone had never been installed at the infant’s burial site.

The trip started a lifelong interest for Fahnestock, who will be presenting a program on gravestone restoration at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at the Shelby County Historical Society.

According to Fahnestock, it was not uncommon for people to be buried without headstones due to high costs.

More recently, Fahnestock was told by the Shelby County Historical Society that his grandfather, Jacob Brant Fahnestock, is also buried at Angel Street Cemetery without a gravestone. The location of his grave in the cemetery is unknown.

The trip to his aunt’s grave with his father had a profound affect on Fahnestock. As Dorothy Fahnestock’s 100th birthday drew near, he decided to make her a gravestone. Fahnestock personally shaped and engraved a stone before placing it in the cemetery in 2023.

While working in the Angel Street Cemetery, Fahnestock noticed that many gravestones had broken, fallen over or become illegible. He said he saw this state of disrepair as disrespectful to those that were buried there.

Fahnestock decided to try and do something about the damage to not just the gravestones in Angel Street Cemetery but all inactive cemeteries in Shelby County. Fahnestock is currently working with the Shelby County Historical Society, Shelby County Genealogical Society and Shelby County Veterans Services to replace any missing gravestones on the graves of veterans in Shelby County.

Fahnestock also hopes to get signs built in every cemetery that is missing a sign. He plans on getting materials for the signs from local businesses willing to donate them. Volunteers would construct and install the signs.

“I have respect for anybody’s headstone,” Fahnestock said.

In line with this feeling, he is willing to do what he can to replace or fix up any gravestone located in an inactive graveyard in Shelby County.

Fahnestock is looking for volunteers and is also seeking permission from descendants before working on a headstone. Anyone interested can contact the Shelby County Historical Society at [email protected].

Gronneberg can be contacted at 937-538-4825 or at [email protected].

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