About four miles south of Franklin on U.S. 31 is a small cemetery that until last fall was partially overgrown with small trees.

One of the final steps in becoming an Eagle Scout is to perform a community service project, and 16-year-old Daniel Ketchum wanted to choose one that would be meaningful to both his family and community. He and a group of volunteers he organized spent three days earlier this fall clearing out overgrown plants and trees from a site that holds significance to his family and the community.

The Hamner Cemetery in Amity was founded by Daniel Ketchum’s great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, John Hamner, a Revolutionary War veteran who later moved to Indiana and set aside land as a grave site for himself and his descendants. The cemetery is on about two-thirds of an acre on the west side of South County Road 550E, north of State Road 252. Nearly 150 people, nearly all of whom are descendants of John Hamner, are buried in the cemetery, Ketchum said.

Some of the non-relatives buried at the site include two of Hamner’s fellow Revolutionary War veterans, he said.

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Daniel is the fourth of four brothers to become an Eagle Scout. His extended family includes 27 Eagle Scouts so far, with another six more that could reach that achievement in the next decade, Daniel’s mother, Tammy Ketchum, said.

The tradition is one that the family has used to help teach their boys as they grew into adults, she said.

“The motto we’ve used with our boys in scouting has been ‘don’t wait to be a good man, be a good boy,'” Tammy Ketchum said. “With scouting, it has helped them become good boys so they can become good men.”

Being a Boy Scout and going through the process of becoming an Eagle Scout is a family tradition began by Tammy Ketchum’s father, who wanted his eight sons to become Eagle Scouts after his own father hadn’t let him take part in the organization, having him join 4-H instead, since his family was farmers.

Maintaining the cemetery was a point of pride for her father, who served on the cemetery board and, even after having a stroke, would work to keep it maintained until his death two years ago, Tammy Ketchum said.

When it came time for Daniel to decide what his service project was going to be, he settled on one that would honor the history of his family and community. Being able to know the role their ancestor played in the founding of the country is a point of pride for the family.

“I feel really proud, because I don’t know where the world would be now without America,” Daniel Ketchum said. “I’m glad he was one of them that served.”

When Daniel Ketchum set out to do the project earlier this fall, he asked for volunteers to assist with getting the trees cut down. He made some posts on social media and called some friends. He thought he’d have about a dozen volunteers, but ended up with nearly 40.

“It was overwhelming and hard to keep track and give them jobs to do,” he said. “An eight-hour project was cut down to four hours that afternoon the first day.”

The group used chainsaws, saws and pruners to clear out about 600 trees, ranging from about 10 to 20 feet tall and about an inch in diameter, he said.

A friend with a wood-chipping business donated his truck, letting them get all of the trees chopped up into mulch. Overall, the clean-up took three Saturdays to finish.

Afterward, Daniel went through the cemetery, documenting where all the gravestones were, information that he sent to the cemetery’s local board so they could update their map.

Daniel Ketchum

Name: Daniel Ketchum

Age: 16

School: home-schooled

Residence: Nineveh

Parents: Tammy and Pete Ketchum

Boy Scout troop: Franklin Troop 256

Author photo
Jacob Tellers is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at jtellers@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2702.