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Generosity received, generosity returned

By Carol Sones Shelter - | Feb 17, 2021

PHOTO PROVIDED Caleb Trotter cleans a sign designating the burial site of Revolutionary War Soldier Michael Sechler at Clinton Baptist Cemetery, Montgomery. More than 200 individuals, businesses and fellow scouts from Montoursville Boy Scout Troop 21 and Troop 172 at Farragut, worked on Caleb’s Eagle Scout project in August 2020.

MONTGOMERY – When Caleb Trotter considered what he might do to earn the prestigious Eagle Scout award with  Boy Scout Troop #172 of Farragut, the Montgomery youth didn’t need to scratch his head or contemplate for any length of time. Caleb took a drive to the Clinton Baptist Cemetery finding encroaching brush looking a bit forlorn. The cemetery site is near what was the former Baptist Church on Saegers Station Road until it burned and a new building erected at 60 Warren Street.

Many locals know the cemetery, unused for years, as the gravesite of Revolutionary War Soldier, Michael Sechler, famed body guard to General George Washington. As impressive as that may be, Caleb had a personal reason for you see, in January 2006, Caleb’s material grandfather was buried in this cemetery.

Bruce A. Lester died in a fire and to aid the family, Clinton Baptist Church donated space for the victim to be interred.  In addition to Caleb’s family tie, grandfather Lester had also been a Boy Scout and for a time during his 17-year US Army career, was Scout Master for military children at base in Germany. With all this information, Caleb posed the idea to scout master Chuck Mertz and fellow troop  members who would work with him. It is estimated that 209 individuals and business became involved with the project.

“I was happy to do this, it provided a way to learn leadership and organizational skills. Record keeping is required listing all items and monies coming in, then accounting where and for what they were spent,” Caleb said. And gather items he did. Due to the fact the scout has family is South Williamsport and Nesbit, gave opportunity to expand networking far beyond Farragut and Montgomery. Donations came in and the project began on August 22, 2020.

Dittmer Oil Company of Muncy provided trucks to haul away 17 loads of debris. Of the thirteen trees requiring removal some were tagged for use as firewood. They were cut, sawed and delivered to a needy family. Donating shovels, rakes and buckets were Jeff Martin Construction, Muncy; and from Montgomery, Ernie Hamm Construction and Sam Harer.

PHOTO PROVIDED Siblings Kaitlyn and Caleb Trotter on newly place bench honoring their late grandfather, Bruce A. Lester, a former Scout Master and Army veteran. The bench at Montgomery’s Clinton Baptist Cemetery is part of Caleb’s Eagle Scout project.

Fort Muncy Garden Center near Hall’s Station invited Caleb to choose flowers and shrubs. The selection included butterfly bushes, hydrangeas and lilies promising blooms next spring and summer. Elite Excavating of Montgomery donated five loads of mulch, which provided coverings for planting areas. As plantings were placed in the heat of late summer, and so as to assure survival, Caleb brought water from the river on alternate days for a month.

In memory of his grandfather, Caleb placed a bench having the Boy Scout and Army logos. The designated color scheme in plantings next to the bench are blue and yellow for scouts and burgundy for military.

Clearing and cleaning leaves and debris resulted in unearthing several tombstones, a total of 22 were reset on another work day, Aug. 26. One stone identified the resting place of “Infant daughter Sechler.” Lowe’s of Montoursville furnished cement for the bases and bug spray to keep ticks at bay.  Susquehanna Marble and Granite provided epoxy to repair stones. “They even gave me a lesson on how to do it,” Caleb said.

Aiding Troop #172 for a days volunteerism in stone setting was Troop 21 of Montoursville. Workers need sustenance which was met by Weis Markets of Montgomery donating bread, peanut butter and bananas; and the South Side Fire Company giving three cases of water. The gift of water was a happenstance for as the family drove by, they noticed the company selling lemonade. “My mom loves lemonade so we pulled in and when hearing of our project, handed over the water,” Caleb said.

The group soon received kudos for their efforts, for while at the cemetery, a Maryland couple stopped by on their way home from visiting a grandmother in Montoursville. It was learned the couple were Sechler descendants who continue to stay in touch and oft when in the area, visit the gravesite.

The Reverend David Jacobs, pastor at Clinton Baptist Church, reportedly had on his face a smile from cheek to cheek at seeing the results. Caleb said, “I personally presented Clinton Baptist with a check of monies left over from a long list of individuals and businesses who had supported the effort monetarily.” The former included the scout’s mothers employer, Bostley’s Child Care and Preschool Learning Centers.

Caleb’s parents, Lacy and Joshua Trotter, along with fellow scouts and the community, await the public ceremony of the Eagle Award presentation delayed due to the pandemic. When questioned as to future plans, Caleb said, “I’ve been offered a Scout Master training spot which I’m considering. It would need to fit in with my busy schedule at Lock Haven University and my Criminal Justice and Environmental Enforcement studies. I plan to remain involved with my troop in whatever may be needed.”