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Student Digs Up the Past at Local Cemetery

7/8/2011 —

Penn State Brandywine junior Eileen Fresta is undertaking an interesting challenge for her summer internship.

As an intern for the Oliver H. Bair Company, owner of the Cumberland Cemetery in Media, the American studies major is sorting through old cemetery records that date back to 1860 to orchestrate a walking tour of the site.

Fresta said the script used during the tour will contain background information on approximately 20 local historic people buried at the cemetery, including Thomas Pratt, founding father and resident of Middletown Township.

“It's a lot of fun,” she said.” The people in the office are great, and I'm very intrigued by the background research. I've already uncovered long-forgotten, ‘buried’ information that I'll use for the tour. It's very interesting to look at the old cemetery records, to find out what was going on in the community during a particular year.”

Fresta was inspired to take on the internship after taking American Studies 491 and English 402 with Professor of English and American Studies Phyllis Cole.

“There are many things to read and study about famous people in history, but it's even more interesting to read about and learn how local farmers and their families lived, especially the people who lived in the same area where I've lived for so long,” Fresta said. “There is a lot of information available, it just takes time to find it and transcribe it.”

The walking tour is scheduled for Sunday, September 25 and Fresta is looking for volunteer tour guides. For more information, contact her at emf5187@psu.edu.

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