For Jack Phillips, it started as a quest to find the graves of various ancestors.
As a member of the Phillips Cemetery Committee, Mr. Phillips had helped clean-up the Matthew Phillips family cemetery. And through committee chairwoman Brenda Castle, the Wrens man found the Old Paul Cemetery - an overgrown, briar-infested collection of 40 or so graves off Luckey's Bridge Road near Dearing. It's home to the graves of Preston "Press" Phillip and his wife, Dilly.
Other family names in the cemetery include Huff, Paul, James, Benson, Beasley, Ivey, Lott, Adams and other unidentified graves.
"Some are just indentions, others are just piles of bricks," he said. "But you can see that a grave is there."
On Saturday, starting at 8 a.m., Ms. Castle, Mr. Phillips and a group of supporters will finish a job started in December. They'll be cleaning up the cemetery. The cemetery is located about a mile north of McCorkle Nurseries and a mile south of Iron Hill Advent Church, he said.
"The news of what the Phillips Cemetery Committee was doing to reclaim these old cemeteries spread to other local families who have indicated a desire to join us in this preservation effort," said Ms. Castle. "...People are being brought together through a common goal - people who, until now, never knew each other."
Mr. Phillips said he's already replaced the headstones on his ancestors' graves in the Old Paul Cemetery. The next phase is the general upkeep of the cemetery, he said.
Anyone interested in helping with Saturday's clean-up can call Mr. Phillips at 706-547-6674. He said participants should wear gloves and bring tools suitable for cutting briars and bushes.
Mr. Phillips said he hopes to continue his grave search, even if it leads to another abandoned cemetery.
"If there's a Phillips there we are related to, we'll try to clean it up," he said.
Ms. Castle said there's also been another benefit to the clean-up efforts. Two years ago, members of the Phillips family gathered for their first reunion.
"It was there that the descendants of Ichabod Phillips discovered relatives from several states that have roots in Georgia and particularly in Columbia and McDuffie counties," she said.