Sunday, April 10, 2011

John Reece Cemetery - Estill County, Kentucky

I recently visited a very old cemetery in Estill County, Kentucky.  It's located in a remote valley below the Sparks Cemetery in the Leighton area.  After turning off the highway, you travel down the ridge on a gravel road, washed out in some places.  You pass the old family home, cross over a creek that's fed by a spring and up the hill.  There, in this grove of trees, you'll find the John Reece Cemetery.  It's interesting to note that John Reece was probably one of the last interments here. 

We estimated that there are at least between 100 and 150 graves located in this cemetery.  There are about 10 rows with 10 to 15 graves per row.  Most of these people are lost to memory, only identified with a field stone and/or a sunken grave.  Vinca minor (periwinkle) grows wild and covers the entire cemetery, cushioning steps as one carefully picks their way through the graves, careful not to step on someone and careful not to discover a resting copperhead.  I would warn anyone attempting to go to this cemetery that there would need to visit either in the winter or those few weeks in March before it's warm enough for the snakes to come out.

Unfortunately, when we visited, I didn't take a photo of the cemetery itself.  When I return, I will be taking it and adding it here, editing the post.

The photos of the graves are as follows:

Sarah (Sparks) Plowman
Nancy L. (Tudor) Alcorn

Samuel Fox

David Reece

John Reece

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Samuel Fox - John Reece Cemetery - Estill County

Samuel Fox served in Co. E, 47th Kentucky Infantry

Read about our visit to the John Reece Cemetery

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday - Robert Riddle - Old West Irvine Cemetery

Robert Riddle, Sr.
01 Jan 1773 ~ 12 Feb 1849
(aka Simp Richardson Cemetery)

This is the oldest readable headstone in the cemetery.

Tombstone Tuesday - Unknown - Old West Irvine Cemetery

One of the many broken headstones
(aka Simp Richardson Cemetery)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday - Interesting Family Plot - Campbell Cemetery

This interesting family plot is located at the back of Campbell Cemetery, Doe Creek, Estill County, Kentucky.  Surrounded by a low chain border are field stones that are common to cemeteries in the area.  What makes this family plot different is the large marker in the center.  It gives names and dates for all in the family area.  Listed on the marker are:

James Alfred Hale
9-2-1922 ~ 9-20-1922

Cash Farthing
10-29-1852 ~ 1-2-1931

Mary (Babb) Farthing
11-5-1852 ~ (12-8-1920 according to death certificate) 

Mary Eliza (Farthing) Land
11-1-1873 ~ 6-1-1905

Robert Land
4-2-1905 ~ 4-2-1905

Garrett H. Land
2-19-1897 10-5-1902

Mattie (Farthing) Land
3-3-1888 ~ 11-15-1916

Marjorie Land
6-1-1907 ~ 5-10-1909

Lucy Ann Farthing
9-21-1882 ~ 12-22-1913

Eva T. (Hale) Metcalf and Twins
2-11-1893 ~ 1910

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Just Where Did The Name of This Blog Come From??

So, you may ask yourself, "Just where did Jen come up with the name of this blog??"

When KYGenWeb was still in the works in 1996, one of the counties I hosted was Estill County, Kentucky.  This had been home to my ancestors before there even WAS an Estill County.  In those early days, everything was new and "shiny".  Web design, online genealogy, mailing lists - it was just so exciting.  Once information was online, message boards were started and everything else was in motion, we started discussing on the mailing list how fun it would be to all meet there and really get to know each other.  And so it was that the Estill County Homecoming was born.  Every year, on the last weekend of July, people gather and locals are on hand to help researchers from out of state find their ancestors.  After a couple of years, we got help Estill County Historical & Genealogical Society.  The county clerk's office stayed open longer on Saturdays for the researchers to make copies.  The Society hosted a breakfast and lunch.  After the day's research, we'd gather at a local restaurant to tell tales of cemeteries visited and connections made.

Behind the motel is an old cemetery.  Unmarked graves far outweigh marked ones there and for the longest time, this cemetery was not cared for.  Fortunately, someone or ones have stepped up and now care for this resting place of so many.  In fact, the morning this photograph was taken (18 Aug 2009), there were signs that the grass had been mowed possibly even the day before.

My friend, Sandi, and I were there for Homecoming in 2001.  We both had our computers and genealogy books on the county with us.  It had been a wonderful night - most of the motel's rooms were occupied by others attending Homecoming.  Everyone had their doors propped open and were visiting the others there to find their families.  Late in the evening, the others had gone to bed as the morning's meetings were going to start at 7:00 a.m.  Sandi and I were talking about how well the evening had gone.  I mentioned that the Old West Irvine Cemetery was on the small hill next to the parking lot and that my 3rd great grand aunt and uncle, Ari (Hoover) and Littleton Horn were buried there.

Here's a piece of advice, never act on a thought in the middle of a "genealogy high".  It was 12:30 in the morning.  Sandi looked at me....I looked at her.  At that time, that's generally all it took for us to have a genealogy adventure.  We grabbed lighters and headed across the parking lot.  Attempting to read what stones we could get to, we both burned our thumbs trying to hold down the triggers. The movie, "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" had been out a few years and, if you've seen the movie, you'll remember the scene where Minerva, Jim Williams and John Kelso visited a cemetery at midnight.  The Minerva character called the cemetery a garden.  "Dancing" came from the stumbling and tripping over flat stones that Sandi and I did in the moonlight that night.  Don't worry though, we realized we weren't in the best of circumstances and returned the next day to properly look at this wonderful old cemetery.

By the way, when I gave my speech greeting everyone the next morning, we did assure everyone that the bobbing lights in the cemetery weren't local ghosts. 

Henderson Cemetery

You know how you wander around the internet and stumble upon things?  Well, I came across this, a videolog of the Henderson Cemetery in Estill County, Kentucky.

This cemetery is very common to small family cemeteries found in the mountains.   For whatever reason, some graves were marked with a field stone both at the head and foot.   I've not visited this cemetery personally as of yet.  I can't wait to get there and photograph it myself.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wednesday's Child - James Arthur Hoover

James Arthur Hoover
Fourth child of James Daniel "Jim Dan" and Lucinda (Sparks) Hoover
10 Feb 1914 ~ 1 ??? 1915

Other than James' birth that was recorded in his mother's Bible, this hand-carved stone is the only other record that this child ever existed.  Unfortunately, there is no birth certificate or death certificate.  This photo was taken several years ago.  Presently, the stone still rests on the ground, but has gotten increasingly hard to read.  

James Arthur rests next to his sister, Dimer Ann, and brother Ezerath.  Dimer died young as well, while Ezerath died in his teens of pneumonia while working at a CCC Camp.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Friday, January 14, 2011

Cemetery Dos and Dont's

I know it's still winter and, as of yesterday, 49 of the 50 states had snow, but warmer weather will be coming and cemetery trips are in the planning!  Folks will be headed to the cemeteries to clean the cemeteries, research their ancestors and photograph/do rubbings of headstones. Pay special attention to the section about enhancing the carvings on the stones. All those tricks we have been told - shaving cream, baby powder, chalk - should not be used as it can help to destroy the stone.

These tips were found on the Association for Gravestone Studies -

Happy researching!


Please Do ~

  • Check (with cemetery superintendent, cemetery commissioners, town clerk, historical society, whoever is in charge) to see if rubbing is allowed in the cemetery. 
  • Get permission and/or a permit as required. 
  • Rub only solid stones in good condition. Check for any cracks, evidence of previous breaks and adhesive repairs, defoliating stone with air pockets behind the face of the stone that will collapse under pressure of rubbing, etc 
  • Become educated; learn how to rub responsibly. 
  • Use a soft brush and plain water to do any necessary stone cleaning. 
  • Make certain that your paper covers the entire face of the stone; secure with masking tape. 
  • Use the correct combination of paper and waxes or inks; avoid magic marker-type pens or other permanent color materials. 
  • Test paper and color before working on stone to be certain that no color bleeds through. 
  • Rub gently, carefully. 
  • Leave the stone in better condition than you found it. 
  • Take all trash with you; replace any grave site materials that you may have disturbed. 

Please Don't ~

  • Don't attempt to rub deteriorating marble or sandstone, or any unsound or weakened stone (for example, a stone that sounds hollow when gently tapped or a stone that is flaking, splitting, blistered, cracked, or unstable on its base). 
  • Don't use detergents, soaps, vinegar, bleach, or any other cleaning solutions on the stone, no matter how mild! 
  • Don't use shaving cream, chalk, graphite, dirt, or other concoctions in an attempt to read worn inscriptions. Using a large mirror to direct bright sunlight diagonally across the face of a gravemarker casts shadows in indentations and makes inscriptions more visible. 
  • Don't use stiff-bristled or wire brushes, putty knives, nail files, or any metal object to clean or to remove lichen from the stone; Soft natural bristled brushes, whisk brooms, or wooden sticks are usually OK if used gently and carefully 
  • Don't attempt to remove stubborn lichen. Soft lichen may be thoroughly soaked with plain water and then loosened with a gum eraser or a wooden popsicle stick. Be gentle. Stop if lichen does not come off easily. 
  • Don't use spray adhesives, scotch tape, or duct tape. Use masking tape. 
  • Don't use any rubbing method that you have not actually practiced under supervision. 
  • Don't leave masking tape, wastepaper, colors, etc., at the grave site 

Ardith J. (Howland) Elam

Ardith June (Howland) Elam
08 Aug 1925 - Bear Grove Township, Guthrie County, IA
12 Feb 2008 - Nashville, Davidson County, TN

My adoptive mother's headstone.  The gray stone was the original one my parents had placed with both their names inscribed.  Daddy's ashes were interred at Arlington National Cemetery on 13 Oct 2009.  Mother was never happy with her original stone as its the only one in the family row that was not cut from rose marble.  When my sister and I took her ashes to burial in May 2010, we corrected that.  

hopping around

as most genealogists, i've accumulated quite a few headstone/cemetery photographs.  what to do, what to do with them?

cemeteries have always held a special place for me.  there is so much that can be learned by them regardless if you have a connection to one or not.  it's easy to roam and let your mind wander.  what were these people like?  what did they do to survive?  were they in the military?  the questions are endless.

i grew up in far western kentucky, near the northern access to the land between the lakes.  back in the days of sunday afternoon drives, we would head down the trace and slowly make our way down the gravel roads that spread like spider webs.  being that this area was formed from flooding the area with the creation of both kentucky lake and lake barkley, the backroads were dotted with old homes and old cemeteries.  it was a wonderful way to spend a warm (or chilly) afternoon, visiting these people who had long been forgotten.

what i hope to do here is share my finds with you.  while most cemeteries are in kentucky and tennessee, i may surprise you with stones from other areas.

so, grab something to drink and come travel through time with me. who knows who we'll find.