Goats being used to clean up historic cemetery

WASHINGTON, N.C. (WITN) – A historic cemetery in Washington, Beaufort County, NC was paid a visit Wednesday by 42 goats that were brought in to clear overgrown vegetation.

The Sycamore Cemetery of Bonner Hill Plantation in Washington which rests near the border of Oakdale Cemetery is hidden by a jungle of overgrown weeds and trees. The people buried at this site are the founders of the city of Washington. The direct descendants of the Bonners, Steve Bonner and his cousin Bonner Guilford are the organizers of this project to not only clear the burial ground for restoration but to delve deeper into archaeological investigations that are tied to the founding of the city.

“Without the people buried here, Washington probably would not exist. Sheriff Thomas Bonner and his wife, his father James Bonner, who is the founder of the city of Washington, they and their descendants were not only patriots and revolutionaries but they were legislators and people who did a lot of governmental work and were actively involved in all aspects of this community,” Guilford said.

The goats were driven in a trailer from Raleigh by the company “Goats on the Go” and will spend one week eating all vegetation up to five feet at the cemetery. The organizers chose goats due to them being economically and environmentally friendly. They also did not want to risk landscapers accidentally stepping on or damaging tombstones or graves.

“The goats do an excellent job and it’s very economical and environmentally friendly so we felt it was the best solution,” Bonner said.

Organizers say this has been a work in progress for a while and want to get it cleared as soon as possible to declare it a proper burial ground before someone buys all the land.

“Once we get we get it cleared and get all the brush out of the way then we can get ground penetrating radar in there to find the graves and tombstones we can’t locate and get everyone properly identified we can reset and repair the stones, get it fenced and make it a proper burial ground,” Guilford said.