Photo by Diane Cox
Dalton Jones sits on one of the six benches he is building in Vaughn Hill Cemetery as part of his Eagle Scout project.
WOOD RIVER | A resident of Audubon Acres, Dalton Jones has made several trips to the nearby Vaughn Hill Cemetery in his almost 17 years.
As part of his required community service project to earn the rank of Eagle Scout, Jones built six memory benches for cemetery visitors.
“I’ve come here since I was young,” Jones said. “I’ve always been fascinated with the cemetery and its history. People from the Revolutionary War are buried here, as well as the victims of the Wood River Massacre. There was no place for someone to come here, sit and be quiet with history. I thought it would be a good project to put benches up for people to enjoy.”
Members of Jones’ Rosewood Heights Boy Scout Troop No. 777, led by Mark Smith of Wood River, also lent a hand for community service by working to clean the cemetery grounds.
Jones obtained the materials through monetary donations from family and friends to purchase items to build the wooden log benches. Starting the project in November 2014, Jones’ uncle and grandfather gave a hand of expertise to guide him during the bench project.
“We thought it was a great idea,” Jones’ mother, Amy Jones, said. “We used to walk through this cemetery and talk about the local history. History is something that he’s (Dalton) always been into. I think it’s neat that his project is practical and close; now we can come by and visit the benches he’s worked so hard for.”
Jones is still sanding and sealing the benches to protect them from the elements. He hopes to put a small nameplate on each bench to commemorate or dedicate them. A section of the cemetery, the Garden of the Unknown, is marked off with a concrete slab. It’s another area where Jones hopes to do additional work to give more respect to the deceased. The grave markers are so worn or broken, the names and years can no longer be read.
Jones is home-schooled and is about to graduate high school. His plan is to attend college and remain a Boy Scout until he turns 18. He continues to encourage his 13-year-old brother to work toward the level of Eagle Scout.
Earning the rank of Eagle Scout is a long process that involves earning specific badges as well as community service. Companies and the U.S. military recognize Eagle Scouts and their accomplishments and see the rank as a sign of leadership.