Cemetery Hunting
by Anna Chandler
©2011

     

     I have always enjoyed going out “Cemetery Hunting”. I love the out of doors, the history, the art, the poetry, and helping others in their search for roots.

     Early in the summer of 2010, I received an email from a person in Richmond that was looking for photos of tombstones in several remote cemeteries in Marion and Randolph Counties. I had visited all but two on the list and gladly volunteered to see what I could do to obtain the necessary photographs for the person. My Randolph County photos were accomplished on a visit to family in the Pickens area one weekend.

     The Marion County photos I saved for a day off - July 5th. The day was beautiful but very hot. Bunner's Ridge cemetery was easy to find since it sits in the middle of Bunner's Ridge Park.

     The Malone cemetery is one of those old “in the corner of the old Hayfield family cemeteries.” The gentleman that I was trying to help had sent me driving directions so a friend and I started out on our quest for the last of the photographs.

     The road that turned off the main road was dirt and gravel - which I expected. We went UP fairly quickly to the top of the ridge and followed the road for a couple miles. Then we went DOWN a very, very steep hill that I remember thinking at time "I hope my car will make it back up this when we come back out". As we approached what I anticipated as the gate into the field, I reviewed the instructions that said, park at the gate, walk through the field to the top of the hill, look off to your left and you will see the cemetery in the distance. Being a quazi-country girl, I knew about hot summers, tall hayfield grass and snakes. I actually said a prayer asking for help with the last two items. High grass triggers my asthma and snakes are at the top of my least favorite animals list.

     As we neared what looked like the gate on the one lane country road a big pickup truck pulling an empty hay wagon crested the rise in the road heading straight towards us. Thankfully he immediately turned into the field through an open gate. After my initial shock of seeing a truck appear that quickly over the rise, I followed it into a freshly mown hayfield. I pulled along side and asked the follow if he knew where the cemetery was.

     A nicer man I have not often encountered. He said that he did indeed know where the cemetery was and if we would follow him around to where he had this tractor parked, he would lead us to it. He was nice enough to show us where to cross over the old heavily rutted road that crossed the field and even took the hinges off the gate when we found that the lock was securely fastened.

     To my surprise the cemetery was recently mowed and the head stones, oh the headstones. There are less than a dozen graves in the small cemetery, the most recent from the 1960's. The two in particular that I was looking for belong to two Revolutionary War Soldier brothers. Someone had made sure that all the markers were in good condition, even going as far as having brass plates made and attaching them to the back of the more worn markers. The two brothers had new markers with their names, dates and regiments clearly visible. Our guide said that a couple from near Pittsburgh had adopted the cemetery, he didn't know if they were related to anyone in it or not. They travel to Marion County every couple of months, mow the cemetery and care for the graves. All I could think was “wow - what amazing people.”

     We snapped lots of photos to make sure that we had at least several good ones to send on to our friends in Richmond and headed back to the main road.

     When we started back up the steep graveled hill, my little car simply would not pull the hill. After several attempts and thinking that we might have to call for a tow truck - if we had cell service, we thought “wait a minute, the fellow with the big truck pulling a full hay wagon likely couldn't pull this hill either.” So, we turned around and went the way that the gentleman had come from. In a very short while we ended up in the village of Catawba on the Monongahela River with an easy trip back to our way home. We would have never found the cemetery if we had been directed in from Catawba.

     The point of my story is that when you do good things for others, good things happen to you. We met a true good Samaritan in the gentleman that helped us, the field was mowed and no snakes were seen. Our road home was smooth and easy. The family in Richmond was trilled with the photos and I now know for a fact that prayers are answered.


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