A Tennessee man received quite the surprise when he learned that the property next to his home is actually a centuries-old cemetery.
Ken Sawyer said he was planning to add a carport to his Murfreesboro home when the city notified him of the hidden cemetery next door, according to NBC affiliate WSMV.
"They said, 'Make sure you keep it five feet from the cemetery,'" Sawyer recalled to the outlet. "I was like, 'From the what?!'"
Sawyer explained to WSMV that he had no idea the gravesite was just a few feet away from his Atlas Street home because the area was so grown over.
However, Sawyer said he "just embraced it as something kinda cool" and has since teamed up with local historians and the New England Historic Cemetery Restoration Project to learn more about the cemetery.
Through their research, Sawyer has discovered that the cemetery "goes back to at least 1850" and "between five and eight" people are currently buried, he explained to WSMV.
The Murfreesboro resident also learned that the cemetery once belonged to the Carothers family and is now planning to restore the grounds out of respect for the dead, according to the outlet.
"To me, these were forgotten people," Sawyer told WSMV. "I thought this was my chance to make these people no longer forgotten. As long as I'm living here, this cemetery will be taken care of."
In order to fund the restoration project, Sawyer set up a GoFundMe page, where he disclosed more about the cemetery and why he wants to help.
"In this cemetery are some of the descendants of the first settlers to Tennessee," he wrote. "When learning of the cemetery, I thought how sad it was that no one cared about these people. They shouldn't be forgotten and I believe the dead deserve a nice respectable resting place."
"Town records do not show who owns the property and I was given the green light to go and clean it up," he added. "We have a long way to go."
So far, Sawyer has paid approximately $500 out of pocket to start the restorations and raised another $1,360, according to the page. He hopes more people will donate to complete the project.
As he continues to fundraise, Sawyer told WSMV many of his friends have suggested that he try to move — but in his opinion, he can't think of a better living situation.
"My friends say, 'You can get out of that deal if they didn't tell you,' [but] I'm like, 'Why?'" he told the outlet. "I won't have to worry about loud parties from that neighbor. They won't borrow things. They're the perfect neighbors."
Those interested in donating to Sawyer's GoFundMe page can do so here.
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