COTTONTOWN, Tenn. (WKRN) — The sound of scrubbing could be heard throughout multiple cemeteries in Cottontown Tuesday.
It’s the sound of history coming back to life, thanks to one Florida man deemed “The Good Cemeterian”.
“So each person that we do a restoration for is an honoree,” he said. “Every honoree has a story, not just a simple stone.”
Before The Good Cemeterian began restoring headstones, he was known as Andrew Lumish, a man grieving a friend who lost his fight with PTSD.
“I struggled with the fact that he didn’t reach out to me,” he said.
So Lumish turned his sights on cemeteries.
“I trained myself on the Department of Veterans Affairs process on how to restore these monuments, and I began to do it independently,” he said.
Nine years and 10,000 monuments later, he’s found himself helping others, this week in Cottontown, Tennessee.
“They reached out to me, and then in turn through many conversations, we agreed it would be a really good idea to come out here, get the town’s people together and have a really good time,” said Lumish.
Suzanne Edds descends from family who originally settled in Cottontown, and knows this is much deeper than just cleaning headstones.
“These aren’t just stones,” she said. “They’re people. They’re lives. Some of their blood courses through mine, and it’s very, very important.”
Their stories are ones Lumish will continue to make sure aren’t forgotten.
“We need to know,” he said. “We should know where we came from. It’s important to know where we came from, because that really helps to develop who and where we’re suppose to be and who and what we’re meant to do.”
Lumish says he has a non-profit that provided all the equipment and supplies needed to clean these headstones for free.
He was able to help residents restore over a dozen headstones in six cemeteries across Cottontown.
If you are interested in learning more about Lumish and the work he does, you can find more information here.