Eagle scout project renovates historic Hack Cemetery

2013-10-08T18:15:00Z 2013-10-08T20:21:19Z Eagle scout project renovates historic Hack CemeteryLu Ann Franklin Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
October 08, 2013 6:15 pm  • 

ST. JOHN | Danny Revoir’s love of flags and a wish to preserve the town’s history evolved into an Eagle Scout project that has received local and national recognition.

The 16-year-old member of Boy Scout Troop 561, which is led by his father, Frank Revoir, designed a landscaping project that has transformed the historic John Hack Cemetery south of Joliet Street.

Named for St. John’s original settler, the cemetery is on a portion of John Hack’s original homestead. Hack deeded some of his land to the Bishop of Vincennes in 1843. The land eventually became the original location of St. John the Evangelist Church. In 1868, the Bishop of Fort Wayne deeded two acres back to the heirs of John Hack to be used exclusively by them as a family burial site, and eventually became John Hack Cemetery.

Danny first noticed the American flag flying over the cemetery was tattered. It also lacked the lighting at night that is part of the proper etiquette, he said.

“I’m very interested in vexillology, the study of flags,” he said.

His interest in the tattered flag led Danny to learn about the history of Hack.

That’s when he decided to renovate the cemetery as his Eagle Scout project.

Research played a big part in Danny’s project. He spent months finding the cemetery’s beneficiary, the Diocese of Gary, and local owner, St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church.

Fate seemed to play into the project, too, because the day before he began the renovation, Danny met Helen Wein, a direct descendant of John Hack. The Wein family has been caretakers of the land for decades.

Danny won the Wein family’s approval to create a new look for the cemetery.

At the invitation of St. John Town Council member Ken Gembala, Danny also met with representatives of the St. John Historical Society.

It took 146 hours with 32 fellow Boy Scouts and adults to transform the cemetery. They created a mulch pathway outlined in decorative stone donated by Griffith chapter of the Izaak Walton League. The cemetery sign is now surrounded by a bed of perennial flowers.

The original flagpole was refurbished and a new flag donated by the Schererville VFW now flies from it. A solar light is attached to properly illuminate the flag at night.

While undertaking the project, Danny said he realized many people aren’t aware of the historic landmark. He wanted to include a sign at the entrance, but wasn't able to make that happen initially.

He made a presentation to the St. John Town Council in late August. Ellen Hogan, president of the St. John Historical Society, and Wein also spoke about the significance of the project because the cemetery is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The council voted unanimously to fund the placement of a sign at the entrance to John Hack Cemetery. Because of the cemetery’s historic designation, a sign provided by the registry that’s part of the U.S. Department of the Interior has been ordered, said Steve Kil, St. John town manager.

That sign is scheduled to arrive in November. However, the shutdown of the federal government may slow that delivery.

Kil said once the sign from the National Registry of Historic Places arrives, the town will hold a ceremony to dedicate it.

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