By MARK EVANS
Restoring historic tombstones and cemeteries has always been a labor of love for Dave Snyder, who founded Jacob’s Ladder Cemetery Restoration 13 years ago in Huntsville, Missouri.
The past two weeks have been even more enjoyable, according to Snyder and other members of his family-based business, as they work to restore tombstones and vaults in Ste. Genevieve’s historic Memorial Cemetery.
The crew expressed amazement at the warm reception and enthusiasm the community has shown them.
“The whole community has come together. I mean everybody’s just been great,” Dave Snyder said.
Snyder’s brother Mike and daughter Hannah were both working with Snyder on the project.
Mike Snyder added that he has been amazed at how friendly and supportive the community has been.
“People will stop by and visit or drive by and honk and wave,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Memorial Cemetery is a key part of the city’s history and of its heritage tourism presentation. Yet, it had been allowed to badly deteriorate over the years.
“When I became chairperson of the Foundation for Restoration’s Cemetery Committee, one of my first goals was to find a group that specialized in cemetery restoration,”Chelsi Montgomery said. “It had been some time since work had last been done in Memorial Cemetery, and maintenance for a historic cemetery is a never ending process.
“Throughout all of my research, I kept coming across Jacob’s Ladder Cemetery Restoration Specialists. I decided to reach out through their website and to my surprise I received a reply that same day. Not only was David’s reply prompt, but he had actually taken the time to do a little research on Memorial Cemetery.
“We scheduled a time for him to come out and do a walk through.”
Dave Snyder made a presentation to the Foundation For Restoration of Ste. Genevieve in March, detailing what services his family firm can provide. Foundation members knew it would be a perfect match.
“I knew immediately after meeting with him in person that they were the right group for the job,” Montgomery said. “After their presentation for the Foundation and community back in March, the Foundation board agreed with my assessment.”
They started work on June 1. Being able to use tent-like awnings has allowed the group to keep working through some rain showers.
Snyder said that Bob Browne a Foundation member who lives in the aforementioned Walter Fenwick House, had been “a huge help.” “Anything we need, he’s all over it,” Snyder said. “All the board members have too. Chelsi Montgomery has done a great job coordinating all this; She’s here just about every day, checking on us.”
Snyder noted that his daughter, a junior at the University of Missouri, has been a “huge help,” opting to spend a hot, humid summer vacation working in the family business.