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"Graveyard Junkie" hunts down local graves

By Ellen Bacca
Published On: May 10 2013 05:37:41 PM CDT
New Bern, Craven County -

Some people collect stamps or take up antiquing. Don Elsass is a headstone hunter, and he has scoped out dozens of eastern Carolina graveyards.

Some graves Elsass will grab a digital picture of. Others, he will briefly clean up to last for a few more years.

"I find stones that are overturned or they are overgrown. It is nice to know that you have made them visible and prominent again for someone else that may want to find it in the family," said Elsass.

Elsass says some hunts take only minutes, others several hours. He takes his requests off of "find a grave", a national website.

Although Elsass doesn't give guided tours, one local cemetery does. The Cedar Grove Cemetery charges $10 a person for tours each Saturday. The tours are put on by a group called the Questors.

"The Questors is a group of 20 women we all live in the historic district and our project is preservation at the Cedar Grove Cemetery," says Questor, Nancy Mansfield.

The money received from the tours will go towards restoring the large weeping arch in front of the cemetery. The project will cost $25,000. The City of New Bern is helping with the cost.