Unmarked graves within the Sugar Hill Historic Cemetery have received new markers thanks to a Lanier High School educator.
Mike Reilly, the director of the STEM program at LHS, has been helping Sugar Hill Cemetarian Stephanie Isaacs mark previously unmarked graves within the city’s cemetery.
“Unmarked graves can be from any time period that the cemetery has been in existence,” Isaacs said.
She went on to explain that the conditions of unmarked graves in the cemetery could vary. Some could have markers that have faded or eroded so much as to become illegible, while others might just be a flat grassy area with no indicators at all.
Isaacs tried a number of materials to create new grave markers with only limited success.
“It was suggested to me to contact Mike Reilly, a teacher at Lanier High School in the STEM program,” Isaacs said. “He was known for thinking out of the box and coming up with solutions. And he did.”
Reilly agreed to help with the project and came up with the idea to use leftover countertop materials donated by MTI Baths to engrave as long-lasting and affordable markers for the grave sites. This creative thinking has helped to improve the long-term efficacy of the project, but Isaacs knows there is still plenty of work to be done.
“The project is not completed,” she said. “I still find more information and continue to be contacted about additional unmarked graves. I follow the clues until a location can be determined.”
The process requires significant research on Isaacs’ part, employing death records, deeds, grave plotting surveys and even family contacts and lore to try and determine whose remains might occupy an unmarked grave.
The Sugar Hill City Council presented Reilly with a proclamation for his innovative thinking at its meeting on Monday, March 14.