PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- When Girl Scouts Samantha Allshouse and Kayla Theriault were looking for a Gold Award project back in 2010 they had no idea what they were getting into when they stepped foot in the Grand Trunk Cemetery.
"There was grass up to our knees and there was trash and broken glass everywhere," recalled Allshouse. "There were holes and knocked over stones back there and there was graffiti all over the trees. It was just gross."
The girls decided they would clean it up, and proceeded to remove decades worth of trash and trees that had grown throughout the small parcel of land. Many of the cemetery's headstones were broken, several had been thrown into a nearby pond.
"It took a lot of effort," she said. "I like the history piece of it, and so I decided that I wanted to bring back the history of the cemetery and have people remember what it was like and have the people that were buried here honored."
Along with all the heavy lifting, the girls also did research to determine who was buried there. When they discovered several veterans from the War of 1812 and the Civil War, the girls worked to get them new headstones.
"As a life-long resident of Portland, I had no idea this place was even here," stated David Googins, chairman of the Maine Military Historical Society. "It is quite interesting that it has been here all this time."
"Just to be remembered as a person that lived on this Earth, I think is significant," he added. "It is nice to know that someone at that age would actually take and interest in history, and preservation and what these people did."
On Monday, descendent of Joseph Merrill were joined by people involved in the restoration project to dedicate his new headstone. Merrill is the 8th veteran to receive a new marker since the girls started work on the project, and they are not done with their effort.
"It is probably not ending," said Allshouse. "We are probably going to find more stuff and it is probably going to have to get done."