Monday, December 17, 2012

Lost and Found

This is a new type of post for my blog, and I know I have been absent from the blog for awhile, I'm still digging and discovering new things though! 

The other day a photo request came in from Find A Grave for a local family cemetery I had never heard of. Where I live is not where I grew up, but I've been here more than 20 years now, so the place has really taken me in, as many transplants may understand. As I read the description of the cemetery itself, I became intrigued. My husband was born and raised here and I read the description to him in case he would remember anything, then we pulled up Google Maps and zoomed in to the area we thought it was describing.
as you can see, the little wooded area where the cemetery is located is surrounded by modern life. It is snuggled in between a motel, what used to be a restaurant, a medical lab, doctors offices, then in the back, a new housing development. 

The description said the cemetery was behind  a place that used to be a restaurant called The Briarpatch. I have not been here long enough to remember a restaurant by that name. My husband remembered it, but I asked my local friends on Facebook if they remember it, and to confirm my husband's recollections. Looking on the maps, and zooming into the suspected location, we could see that development was closing in on the location, but there was still a small wooded patch right where we suspected the cemetery might be. Though many of the locals remembered the restaurant, none recalled knowing of a cemetery behind it. Between the encroaching of society and the lack of knowledge of the locals of a cemetery being there, my husband and I began to wonder if any remains of the cemetery even still exists.
The next couple days were a bit busy for us, but yesterday we needed to go get some groceries. The location in question is not far from where we live (maybe a half mile or so away), so we decided to drive by and at least look to see if there were any signs of a cemetery remaining. We drove around to the back of the building that used to be the restaurant, a paved drive allowed us to drive right to the back. We walked into the small overgrown wooded patch, with my camera at the ready.

the small wooded patch as it looks from the back of the former restaurant

 It only took a moment to find a small cluster of stones laying on the ground. A small stone was marked simply "mother", a large stone near it, laying face up, still had inscriptions mostly readable. I took some pictures, after we brushed some of the dirt and vegetation off. But, It would be easier to read if we could go back and clean it up some more, and maybe use some cornstarch to help bring out the markings.

Cluster of stones where small "Mother" stone and stone for Garland  Withers and his wife Sarah Morrison were found. We did not see markings on the 3rd stone seen here. 

Garland H. Withers born ___ 26, 1810 (?) Died Sept ___1889 (?)
His wife Sarah C Morrison Born July 20, 1818 (?) Died  Aug 14, 1891 (?) 


Another stone, not far away, obviously broken, only had partial markings still visible. We could see it said Elizabeth, but no last name, and not real sure we can make out any dates or partial dates.


We looked and walked around some more, not really seeing any more stones standing or laying, but as we stepped around on what we thought was just solid ground covered with dead leaves and vines, often our foot would land on something hard. Clearing back the vines and leaves would reveal a stone, close to the ground. It's hard to decide if many of those stones were once head stones or markers now broken and weathered, or if they were part of what once had been a wall, or just random stones.

these two we didn't touch, this is how they appeared as we found them

my husband clearing dirt and vine and leaves off a long stone. Was it  once part of a rock wall?  Or the base of a marker? 

my shoe for size reference on what is left of a stone we uncovered. Was it once the base of a  marker? 

Another set of stones we didn't bother,  but how we found them 

At the edge of the wooded spot, there was a pile of dirt and stones, most likely left from the construction of the housing area on the other side of the wooded grove.

a pile of dirt and rock piled at the edge of the wooded spot, probably left over from  construction. We did not see any stones with markings, but we didn't dig or try to clean any off either. 

We decided this spot needed a return visit. It also needed some cleaning up with rakes, maybe shovels and who knows what else. We will have to find out who now owns the property and get permission to attempt to clean things up a bit. At the grocery store we ran into the wife of our boys' Boy Scout troop master and mentioned it to her, in case any boys were looking for an Eagle Project. We think it would be best to do what we can before growing season comes back. Can you imagine what this will be like in the spring and summer?
We were only there for a few minutes, but before we left, I whispered over the graves to those resting, so if they can hear from where ever they are, they now know they have not been forgotten.

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