MILTON — Milton's historic cemetery will receive a 100-year-old artifact this month, a gate bearing the name Capt. George Neuman.
The gate was among other unknown cemetery objects in a Quonset hut where the St. Michael’s Cemetery Foundation kept other unknown funerary items, according to University of West Florida research associate Margo Stringfield.
“Often people might take some fencing from a cemetery,” she said, “and think better of it later and turn it in to somebody as they found it or take to where it might have come from.”
The foundation has been the steward of the cemetery since 2000 and the gate was there then, according to Stringfield.
Catherine Eddins, the community outreach coordinator with the UWF Archaeology Institute, discovered where the gate belongs, according to Stringfield.
“Now we have much better access to information,” Stringfield said.
Before UWF decided to return the gate to Milton, it had to be restored.
“So this gate had been sitting around quite some time,” Stringfield said. “It had gone through (Hurricane) Ivan and the big flood. It was rusted and not in such pristine condition. The Archaeology Institute asked Dr. John Bratten, the chairman of our department and also the head of the conservation lab, if there might be student volunteer … to do some conservation work on it.”
UWF student Mark Trosien worked on the gate under Chairman and Associate Professor of Anthropology John Bratten, of Pace.
“Mark Trosien is one of my students,” Bratten said. “I teach a class called conservation. We take care of all the artifacts from all the archaeological sites we work on. We have a conservation lab. Mark took this on as his project.”
The restoration purpose was not to make the gate look new, Bratten said.
“It was covered in layers of paint and rusting off where vertical supports were going to break,” he said. “We did minimal restoration. We didn’t want it to look new, just be sturdy again. Mark did the work (with) my guidance. By taking layers off it made it much more crisp, more detailed.
The story is neat that it ended up in St. Michael’s but belongs in Milton. I’m happy to see this one get back home.”