Efforts to cleanup a cemetery unearthed hundreds of graves belonging to slaves and veterans of the Civil War and World War II.

It's taken physical and mental labor from a group of volunteers to restore a small cemetery in New Market.

The reward is restoring honor to veterans and reuniting families with their loved ones.

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The mass of graves at Young's Memorial AME Zion Church weren't always easy to spot.

New Market cemetery for web_1509682015751.jpg

"I know what a jungle looks like, because I spent two years in Vietnam,” said Zack Taylor.

The tangle of vines and bush hid the graves from sight.

A group of volunteers spent a year working to restore them and uncover Jefferson County history.

"I estimated that there might be 200 burials in here, and I was quite surprised when it turned out to be at least 450 folks,” said Taylor.

Now the task is reconnecting families and loved ones and honor to the veterans buried here.

"That's C. M. Wooten, Company G Signal Corps. That is the only military headstone that I have ever seen that had no dates on it,” said Taylor, pointing to a cleaned-up headstone.

"It just thrills my heart to know that this is happening,” said Young's Memorial AME Zion Pastor Bernice Osborne.

For church leaders this discovery is special, not only for the history buried here, but for future generations who need to know their past.

They're encouraging other churches to look into genealogy and study their history.

"So we will know and our children and great grandchildren will know their heritage,” said Osborne.

The next step in this project is filling in the uneven graves, making this cemetery whole and honoring those buried below.

"It'll take more than the three tons of dirt we have here, but we've got all the time in the world. The hard part is done,” said Taylor.

Two tombstones for veterans have been sent in and restored. Another is set to be placed sometime this month.