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Volunteers Work To Restore Resting Place For Historical Figure

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john f. baker tombstone
DUDLEY, N.C. — A major undertaking began Saturday in Wayne County.

A small group of people was working to restore a run down cemetery, which is the resting place of man named John F. Baker.

Baker was the first black man elected to Congress from Wayne County.

"It's just sad that we've neglected to do this in all these years," Mae Marks said.

These volunteers are clearing the way in the name of history and family.

All the volunteers are descendents of Baker.

"History is something that can't be repeated," said Len Henderson, who is a great-great-great-great cousin of Baker. "And so we wanted to try to preserve as much of it as possible."

Baker was never actually sworn in to Congress. The history books said he was assassinated while trying to board a train bound for Washington to take the oath of office.

"It saddens us that the memory of his life has left us with a void," Henderson said.

For years the cemetery was neglected, hidden behind a large manufacturing plant.

Now these descendants have two goals: first, clean it up, and then ask the county to mark it as a historical site.

The family expects the project to take several months. Workers from the Georgia Pacific plant, adjacent to the cemetery, will also help with the restoration.

"He had great ideas and was willing to work for the interest of all people," Marks said. "That's why we want to remember him and honor his gravesite today."

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