BONIFAY -- A new research group is being formed to update cemetery records. The current public record for the county's laid-to-rest is nearly two decades out-of-date.

"Your cemeteries are basically your history, your outside museum; but, the names recorded are the individuals who set that history in place," said Holmes County Historical Society (HCSC) President Randy Torrance. "The most benefit of this census has been in the area in genealogy."

"It has been a consistent request -- cemetery census," he added.

The most recent update on public record is August 1999 by the late Lon L. Everett, an former HCSC cemetery committee chairman. Under his leadership, burial records at the county's 101 cemeteries -- private and public -- were synced and brought current.

However, HCHS is calling on local history enthusiasts to join its recently resurrected cemetery and genealogy committee in order to update records.

"Most of our cemeteries are church operated ... But, see, the question is do they keep records," Torrance said. "So, this may be the only 'cemetery record' in Holmes County, other than what you're going to run across in your municipal cemeteries."

With a population of less than 20,000, family heritage plays an integral role in telling the Holmes County story. First families such as the Bronell family, which was instrumental in the establishment of Holmes County, Torrance said, are located at Camp Ground Cemetery.

Unfortunately, records have yet to be updated. Also, in a number of cases, grave sites have not been preserved well.

"A lot of our prominent citizens -- the older generation, at least -- some of their families have maintained their (headstones), some of them have not," Torrance explained. "Some have just died off."

Those that died off, he added, unless maintained by a municipality, have not been maintained.

HCHS has adopted eight cemeteries to provide grounds upkeep.

The new committee will comb through the outdated record, locating cemeteries -- a number of which Torrance says could be virtually "lost" due to unkemptness, limited access as private property or simply repurposed land.

Everett's Holmes County Cemetery Census is available at through HCSC for $20. For more information about HCSC, to purchase the census or to join the committee, contact HSCS President Randy Torrance at 386-209-7936 or email holmescountyhistory@yahoo.com.