Judy Willoughby is working to make sure veterans' graves are marked with U.S. flags on Veterans Day.

Judy Willoughby is working to make sure veterans' graves are marked with U.S. flags on Veterans Day.

For years, Willoughby has placed flags on about a dozen graves in the Pisgah Cemetery and others in the Pickerington area on Memorial Day and removed them after Veterans Day.

But this year, her task has been hampered by the theft of the bronze flag holders that marked each veteran's grave.

Willoghby fears the markers were taken by scrap-metal thieves looking for quick cash.

The holders are purchased by the Fairfield County Veterans Services Commission for $38 to $42 apiece. That organization provides them to American Legion Post 283, of which Willoughby is adjutant, at no cost.

The problem, Willoughby said, is that now that the markers have been removed, she isn't sure where the replacements should go.

"With those things gone and the stones so hard to read because it is an extremely old cemetery, it's hard to know," she said.

The cemetery, located on a hill at the intersection of state routes 204 and 256, dates back to 1852. Its namesake church was named after the mountain range east of Jordan from which Moses is believed to have first viewed the Promised Land.

The church, and its records, are long gone.

Gary Taylor, president of the Pickerington-Violet Township Historical Society, said that is very typical of older cemeteries.

"The further back you go, the less records there are," he said. "We do not have really much of anything about any of the graves in Violet Township."

While the Pisgah Cemetery is now in and maintained by the city of Pickerington, it was in the township when it was established, he said.

Last year, nearly 100 volunteers, city employees and township employees organized by the Pickerington Area Chamber of Commerce worked to clean up the cemetery and restore many of the headstones. They raised more than $9,000 toward the effort.

Chamber president Helen Mayle said the news of the thefts is devastating.

"There are going to be a lot of people unhappy," Mayle said. "We think that's a centerpiece for the city, since it's right there when you come in on Hill Road. We just wanted it to be beautiful."