Friday, March 6, 2015

Research Leads to an Important Sad Find

Every treasure hunter will tell you that research, research and more research is probably the most important aspect of making their greatest finds and discoveries. Not always does it lead to pleasant discoveries. A couple of years ago I was researching some sites that were settled in the 1830's and grew into a small community by 1860. Many of the young men in this area, as they did everywhere in this young country, left to serve in the war. The ones who returned started families, sold out and moved. What was once a community with many families and businesses emerged into one large family farm. My research of these settlers, who were merchants, loggers, millers, carpenters and farmers, hit a snag when I could not find a single cemetery record for any name I came across. It was suggested that maybe they were unmarked graves and not recorded. After thinking about that minute, no way is that possible for that number of families and that amount of time. I went back and searched around with no luck at all. I went back and forth using every resource available, no cemetery. The mystery grew into a genealogical search to find someone who could shed some light and finally one man I spoke with told me something that I would never have dreamed. It sent a wave of chills and even anger through me. He told me the owner of this farm had dozed the cemetery that I was hunting for and covered the stones and iron fences with dirt to cover his deed. I was at a loss for words, I just could not wrap my mind around any logical reason for such an act. My first question was, how do you know this, before I realized this man had no reason to lie to me. He politely told me that others knew also, but the way he knew was, as a young man he had wondered on this property while bird hunting and seen the cemetery. He would not tell me who told him, but he said in the late 1980's or early 1990's a friend of his who had been on this hunting trip ask him if he knew that the old man who owned that property dozed the cemetery they had found. Like me he could not believe it and made the trip back to see and that's how he knew. He went on to say that if I looked I would find some pieces of stones that escaped being covered and that he could not go but if I had a map he would show me the location. I got out a topo and after he pointed out the spot he told me about a piece of stone that had rolled down the hill and he had leaned it against a tree. I thanked him and went directly the next morning to the spot. Although I had found an important site and my research had finally led me to the answer, it is probably the worst desecration I ever saw. What a sad find, in such a beautiful spot.

The landowner is a very nice elderly lady who gave me the permission to hunt the property and told me of some of the sites and people who had live there. She is the niece of the man who did this, he has long since passed away, and I am convinced she never knew this happened.

Pin in tree on NW corner of desecrated cemetery

Stone that rolled down the hill

Tombstone base I found near the SE corner

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