“I like to figure out who they were”: Mid-Michigan woman spends decade cleaning tombstones


ST. JOHN’S, Mich. (WLNS) — The cemetery is not a place many would choose to go to. But for 10 years, Jessica David, has gone to cemeteries to clean tombstones.

She’s been cleaning tombstones at Lowe Cemetery in St. John’s since April. However, her work started long before this past Spring.

“I started cleaning other ones like around the area, like my grandparents and great grandparents,” Jessica said.

It’s no coincidence she’s started regularly coming to Lowe Cemetery. She researched her husband’s family history and traced back his ancestors. She found out some of them were buried there.

“There’s Melissa, David, Martha and Rueben. That’s the Decker family. That’s on his dad’s side,” Jessica said.

She came to just clean their tombstones, but decided to do more.

Jessica David said her tombstone cleaning supplies cost around $100. She said she pays that out-of-pocket.

“I felt like I needed to clean the rest of them too,” Jessica said.

She bought some more supplies, and set aside more of her time.

“I’m usually here about three hours whenever I’m here, yeah,” Jessica said.

Jessica said if she does not do it, they might not get cleaned.

“There’s no one to really clean it like they come and they mow and they weed eat and they trim trees,” Jessica said.

Jessica said the tombstones date back centuries.

Jessica said she looks up the names of the tombstones she cleans to read up on the people who’ve passed away.

“The oldest burial is from 1847,” Jessica said.

Every stone has a story. Jessica makes sure to find out what that story is.

“It’s a person, they were somebody. And I like to figure out who they were before they died,” Jessica said.

She doesn’t get paid to do this, yet she still comes every week to pay her respects to those who’ve passed.

“Even though they’re not around to say thank you, its nice to feel like you’re doing something for somebody,” Jessica said.

Jessica said she’s trying to uplift this place that can bring many down.

“It doesn’t have to be just a place of sadness you can do good and be happy when you’re here too,” Jessica said.

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