One of the main reasons I enjoy graving is helping to document cemeteries. I haven't been graving that long, but I've come to believe that the small family cemeteries are especially crucial to document. So many are found deep in the woods or in an old pasture where nature is doing its best to reclaim the land they're on. Quite often, the ancestors of those buried in these cemeteries have moved away and/or passed away, so they're no longer kept up.
Yesterday was a very enjoyable and satisfying day. I spent the whole day with some new friends revisiting Baskin Family Cemetery and looking for Harris Family Cemetery.
Left to right are Mr. Todd Dorsett from Pennsylvania, Mrs. Judy Wallace from Kosciusko, Mr. Steven Rowe from Madison, and Mr. Jimmy Wallace from Kosciusko.
Since the location of Baskin Family Cemetery was known, and the only thing required was permission to be on the property, we went there first. I spoke with Mr. Charlie Smith there on Thursday morning. He keeps his horses there, along with quite a few other folks. He said that fine and pointed out how to get there. It had been a couple of years since I was there, so I appreciated the directions.
After the rain we've had over the last couple of weeks, it was a bit sloppy in places walking back to the cemetery, but fortunately the site itself was nice and dry. It's interesting that you'll see all kinds of dead cars around the cemetery, and one car next to it could be seen from where we began our walk.
There has been some logging done since I was last there, and I was really concerned about the headstones. When we got there though, the ones standing were still standing. Like other neglected cemeteries, several headstones were either partially or completed covered by dirt and leaves. We managed to completely uncover four.
The headstone for Mr. James S. Baskin was one of those completely covered. We were fortunate in that it made sense to look for it where we did thanks to the initials on a footstone. You might stand right on a headstone and never know it. That's just another problem with the small family cemetery that has been neglected. Of course it was really handy to have my new friends there. They're familiar with those interred and their history, not to mention several sets of good eyes.
I think we had been there about an hour or an hour and a half. We had done what we could do and taken what pictures we could. It was time to move on. We walked back to our cars and headed off in search of the Harris Family Burying Ground. That's the name on the cemetery page in Find-A-Grave. I have called it Harris Family Cemetery because I stick "cemetery" on the end of any place where folks are buried out of habit. I'm adding this cemetery to my list of those endangered because I believe that without some sort of public access to it, and cleaning up of the vegetation, it is endangered.
I don't have any relatives buried in the Harris Family Burying Ground, but my friends do. They where kind enough to let me tag along. I love mysteries. I didn't take notes even though I did have a pencil and some paper, so I may have to update this at some point if I get my facts wrong. I believe Mrs. Wallace was the last to actually visit the cemetery back in the '70's. Mr. Rowe has spent time looking for it, and was even in the area where the cemetery is located seeing if he could locate it. As I found out later, Mr. Wallace would bring his lawnmower to the cemetery years ago and cut the grass and keep it up. We didn't have to walk that far. At one point, I though maybe I could be helpful by walking off in another area to look. About that time, they called to me. They had found it. Even though I knew I wouldn't find any of my ancestors there, it was still exciting for me. I can only image how my friends felt. Most of the stones were in remarkable condition. I think being under the canopy provided by the trees gave them some protection. One or two had fallen over.
The headstone for Mrs. Florence Alford had fallen over. It took three of us to move a fallen cedar or cypress out of the way so we could right the stone, and three of us to right it. I have to brag on Mr. Wallace. He may be older than I am by about a decade, but he lifted up one side like someone the age of our son would do.
The picture of my four new friends was taken close to the center of the cemetery if I were to guess. It's also where I recorded the GPS coordinates.
Most of the time when I go graving, I find the solitude of hunting for cemeteries by myself really gives me the peace I need after a week at work. Times like yesterday though, with such pleasant company and enjoyable conversation, the day was more special than usual. As I told my wife, it was truly the most enjoyable and satisfying experience I remember ever having, without her being there. As I say time and again, it's about the journey.