Edwards Cemetery

Franklin Township

Initial Needs Assessment

 

The Edwards Cemetery was surveyed in March 2003, to determine the condition of the cemetery and assess the potential for restoration.

 

This cemetery is situated at 39 49 05N Latitude; 86 50 34W Longitude about 3 miles southwest of Roachdale on the Norris Harbison family farm. The Harbison family has been very gracious in allowing us access. They are pleased that someone is interested in restoring this cemetery.

 

BACKGROUND

 

This cemetery contains members of the family of James and Rachel Edwards. Their son James Glasgow Edwards, who is also buried in this cemetery, was a member of the Indiana state house of representatives 1875 and was minister of the local church. He also served as county treasurer.

 

The first burial in this cemetery appears to be that of Rachel Edwards, who died in 1850. The most recent burial appears to be that of Nancy G. (Lafollette) Edwards, wife of James Glasgow Edwards, who died in 1900.††

 

INITIAL ASSESSMENT OF THE CEMETERY

 

This cemetery has been overgrown with yucca plants, sapling trees and other vegetation, particularly on the east half. Mr. Harbison indicated this cemetery has been vandalized several times through the years. The main entrance to the cemetery is through the homestead, but the cemetery can also be accessed from the county road to the west. Since this cemetery is secluded, it has been the site of many parties and unauthorized gatherings through the years. All but one of the monolith stones have been pushed off their bases. Fortunately none of these stones were broken when they were pushed over. There are also several slab stones that have been broken, but it is difficult to tell if this was a result of vandalism or natural deterioration.Mr. Harbison also indicated he wouldnít be surprised if some of the tombstones have been removed from this cemetery.

 

The cemetery is enclosed in a stone wall made of stacked flat stones. This wall is not mortared and is deteriorating. The north and east sides of the wall are still standing and are in good condition. The west side is still standing, but is leaning badly. The south side has pretty much fallen over. Mr. Harbison indicated he remembered the wall on the south side being several feet further to the south. He feels that vandals have knocked the wall down at various times in the past. He also remembered there being a gate on the south side at one time which no longer exists.

 

There are about 15-20 tombstones in this cemetery as follows:

 

1.    John Ragland. This stone is a good sized monolith near the west wall at the southwest corner of the cemetery. Mr. Ragland was a preacher and his stone is shaped in the form of a pulpit, with an open bible at the top. This stone has been pushed off its base to the west but the base is leaning a little to the south. The stone appears to be in good condition. We should be able to raise the base and level it by packing sand beneath the base. We then should be able to reset the monolith stone on the base.

 

2.    Mary Smith. This is a slab stone to the north of John Ragland and is leaning against the stone wall. We were able to locate the footstone for this individual and have determined that this stone should be reset about five feet east of where it is at the present. The stone is in good condition, but is barely legible. We plan to construct a new slotted concrete base for this stone and reset the stone into the slotted base.

 

3.    James Edwards. This is the elder James Edwards, who is the patriarch of the Edwards family in northern Putnam County. This is a slab stone in good condition about ten feet east of John Ragland. Note there appears to be a grave to the north of this grave. We feel this is the grave for his wife Rachel Edwards, but we have not been able to locate a tombstone at this location.

 

4.    Louann Miller. This is a slab stone that has been broken about half way up which is about fifteen feet north of James Edwards. The slotted base for this stone is still intact but has been chipped. We should be able to repair the base then reset the stone in the slot. We should also be able to repair the stone by connecting the top part of the stone to the bottom part and setting with hydraulic cement.

 

5.    Osceola Edwards. This stone is a good sized monolith about 25 feet east of James Edwards. This stone has been pushed off its base to the west but the base is leaning a little to the south. The stone appears to be in good condition. We should be able to raise the base and level it by packing sand beneath the base. We then should be able to reset the monolith stone on the base.

 

6.    Infant s/o H. M. & A. E. Edwards. This is a small monolith about five feet north of Osceola Edwards. The stone and the base are in good condition; however, the square stone that fits between the base and the monolith is broken into several pieces. This stone is in poor condition and probably beyond repair.

 

7.    James Glasgow Edwards, Nancy G. Edwards and Charles P. Edwards. This is a large monolith stone about five feet north of the infant mentioned above. The graves for these three individuals have been covered with a concrete slab which also encloses the base of this stone. As a result, the base for this stone is level and in good condition. This monolith has also been pushed off its base to the west. We should be able to lift this stone and reset it on its base.

 

8.    Base only?

 

9.    Flora M. Akers. This stone is a good sized monolith about 10 feet east and a little north of Osceola Edwards. This stone has been pushed off its base to the west but the base is leaning a little to the south. The stone appears to be in good condition. We should be able to raise the base and level it by packing sand beneath the base. We then should be able to reset the monolith stone on the base.

 

10.           John and Melvina Britton. This is a large monolith about 20 feet north of Flora Akers. This stone is the only monolith that is still standing on its original base and is in good condition, except for the fact that an ornamental piece at the top of the stone has been broken off. The stone is the farthest north in the cemetery and can be seen from County Road 1100N. These two graves have also been encased in a concrete slab. Note there is also an older stone for John Britton laying nearby on the concrete slab that is barely legible, presumably his original stone. There is also another slab stone laying nearby which is not legible. This stone might be the original stone for Melvina Britton.

 

11.           Base only. This appears to be the base for a small monolith about 30 feet east of Flora Akers and a little south. We have not been able to locate the stone that fits on this base.

 

12.           Ollie M. Edwards. This is a small monolith a few feet north of the stone mentioned above. The monolith is in good condition. The base needs to be pulled up and reset. We should be able then to reset the monolith on its base.

 

13.           Infant Crader. This is a small monolith a few feet north of Ollie Edwards. The monolith is in good condition. The base needs to be pulled up and reset. We should be able then to reset the monolith on its base.

 

14.           Willie Porter. This is a small monolith a few feet north of Infant Crader. The monolith is in good condition. The base needs to be pulled up and reset. We should be able then to reset the monolith on its base.

 

15.           Epha Edwards. This is a small monolith a few feet north of Willie Porter. The monolith is in good condition. The base needs to be pulled up and reset. We should be able then to reset the monolith on its base.

 

16.           Infant Son of F. & D. Edwards. This is a small monolith a few feet north of Epha Edwards. The monolith is in good condition. The base needs to be pulled up and reset. We should be able then to reset the monolith on its base.

 

17.           Gilbert Edwards. This is a small monolith a few feet north of the Infant Son Edwards mentioned above. The monolith is in good condition. The base needs to be pulled up and reset. We should be able then to reset the monolith on its base.

 

Note that the above mentioned small monoliths are tombstones for children set in a row near the east end of the cemetery.

MAP OF CEMETERY

 

After we located these stones, we mapped the cemetery, marking the location of the stones with a GPS devise. This is done so that the location of the stones can be marked where we found them. Because of vandalism or natural deterioration, it may be difficult to locate the old tombstones in the future. We also took digital photos of the area and of the individual tombstones, so that a permanent record will be available.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

 

The trees should be cut and treated to retard their regeneration. The yucca plants should be cut at ground level and thinned out a little. The rest of the cemetery can be mown and cleaned as deemed necessary.

 

We feel the monolith stones can be reset on their bases. We plan to lift the bases and reset them level, after packing sand below them and then lifting the monoliths onto their bases and resetting them level. We also believe we can reset the slab stones in slotted bases and repair the stones as needed.

 

The Harbison family agreed to the restoration of this cemetery.

 

 

Restoration of Edwards Cemetery

Franklin Township

April 2004

 

Sheila Morrison and Larry Tippin began restoration of the Edwards Cemetery April 9, 2004. This cemetery is situated at 39 49 05N Latitude; 86 50 34W Longitude about 3 miles southwest of Roachdale on the Norris Harbison family farm. The Harbison family has been very gracious in allowing us access. They are pleased that someone is interested in restoring this cemetery.

 

We spent most of the morning cutting the sapling trees and mowing the cemetery. The east side of the cemetery was extensively overgrown with yucca plants. We cut most of these yucca plants at ground level and thinned them out a little.We then mowed the rest of the cemetery and trimmed the low-lying limbs from the trees along the perimeter of the cemetery. We then chemically treated the stumps of the sapling trees to retard their regrowth.

 

After cleaning the vegetation from the cemetery, we performed another assessment of the cemetery. We found several tombstones which were obscured by the thick undergrowth.As mentioned in our initial assessment of this cemetery, there are six or seven small monoliths set in a row near the east end of the cemetery. We were able to locate footstones for most of these stones. But the initials on the footstones do not all match the inscriptions on the corresponding monoliths a few feet west of the footstones. Most of these footstones are at ground level or a little bit below. Since most of the monolith stones are small and easily moved, we feel that some of these small monoliths might have accidentally been placed on the wrong bases. We feel the initials on the footstones are more indicative of the location of the graves of these children. When we reset these tombstones, we will set them based on the initials on the footstones.

 

We then began resetting the larger monolith stones. We were able to reset the bases for all the monolith stones by lifting them off the ground and packing sand under the bases until they were level. At about this time, Bruce Harbison, a member of the family that owns the farm where the cemetery is situated arrived to survey the work done.Mr. Harbison was pleased with our efforts up to that point. With his generous help, we then reset all but two of the monolith stones on their bases.

 

Mr. Harbison also indicated he remembered a row of slab type tombstones to the west of the row of small monolith stones at the east end of the cemetery. There is a fairly large area at this point, with just about the right amount of space for another row of graves. We searched for evidence for tombstones in this area, but found none.

 

This concluded the work done on this day. Plans were made to return and continue our restoration efforts in the near future.

 

 

CONTINUATION OF RESTORATION OF EDWARDS CEMETERY

Sheila Morrison and Larry Tippin finished restoration of the Edwards Cemetery April 16, 2004. This was an absolutely beautiful day with temperatures in the upper 70ís and a slight south breeze.

 

We began this day by fixing the base for Louann Miller. This slotted base was in good condition, except portions at the top of the base were chipped off an inch or two deep. We repaired these chips with concrete and repaired the slot so it would hold the tombstone.

 

We then set the slotted base for Mary Smith. We had previously made a new slotted base for this stone from concrete, using the measurements of the dimensions of the stone we had made in our previous trip.

 

After that, we located the footstones for James M. Tucker and Rachel Edwards. These individuals were listed in a previous reading, but we have not been able to find their tombstones. Since these footstones are clearly legible, and because we have found all the other stones listed in the previous reading, we are confident these footstones represent the location of the graves of these two individuals. Further, the footstone for Rachel Edwards is located just north of her husband James.

 

We then set the bottom portion of the stone of Louann Miller in its repaired slotted base using a proper slot mix solution. This stone had at some point in time been broken in the middle. After the bottom portion of the stone properly dries and sets in the slot mix, we will repair the top portion of the stone.

We then set the two monolith stones for Osceola Edwards and for James, Nancy and Charles Edwards. These are large monolith stones, particularly the latter. To ensure we didnít scratch or mar the base of the stone or the monolith, we placed a piece of plywood against the base while lifting the monolith. We were able to get these stones set good and level.

 

After that, we reset the footstones that were leaning or just above the ground at the west end and middle part of the cemetery.

 

We then reset the tombstones for the children at the east end of the cemetery. These stones are all small monolith stones; however, their bases have settled and have been pushed up unevenly by the profusion of yucca plants at this end of the cemetery. This was a much larger job than had been anticipated. Not only were the yucca plants difficult to work around, the ground was covered with vines, making it extremely difficult to dig around the stones. We lifted all the stones from the ground, filled the holes with sand and dirt as appropriate, and then reset the bases level. We then set the stones on the bases. We reset these stones in the proper location by using the inscriptions of the footstones and by matching the type of stones to their respective bases. We are confident we have all these tombstones set in their proper location. We had not been able to locate just one tombstone, that of Roy Edwards. We knew this stone was missing, because there was a base without a stone and because he was listed at an earlier reading. We were about to give up on this one, when as walking to the truck, we ran our foot across what looked like a stone. Sure enough, this was the stone for Roy Edwards lying below ground level. After resetting this stone, we felt we have set all the stones properly and in their original location.

 

At the end of the day, we repaired the top part of the tablet stone for Louann Miller. Since the break in this stone was irregular, we were able to get a real nice set. This stone should be in good condition for many years.

 

We finished by taking a number of digital photos. We had also taken many photos throughout the process, so we have many before, during and after photos of our restoration of this cemetery.

 

 

View Photos of Restoration of the Edwards Cemetery:

Before restoration looking east

Before restoration looking north

Resetting stones

Restored looking east from middle

Restored looking east from outside

Children stones restored

 

List of individuals buried in this cemetery

List of all Putnam County cemeteries