May 18, 2003
Members of the Putnam
County Cemetery Restoration and Identification Project restored the
During 2002, Susan Huber and Larry Tippin surveyed the cemetery and documented its condition. Only a few stones were standing, which were leaning badly and in danger of falling over. There were another half dozen stones lying on the ground and leaning against trees.
On March 16, 2003, Sheila Morrison and Larry Tippin mowed and cleared the area of undergrowth and searched for more stones. Five new stones were located; two of which were legible. The cemetery was mapped, with the stones marked at the location found. Bases for several stones were leveled and made ready for restoration. The stones were marked with surveyor’s flags and the area was photographed. The types of vegetation and species of trees were also documented. At that time, legible readings could be made for ten individuals.
On May 4, 2003, Lee Creed and Larry Tippin started the restoration work in earnest. It was a damp, dreary day, with rain sprinkles on and off all afternoon. As the day wore on, thunder could be heard in the distance. As the thunder got nearer and the rain more steady, it was deemed prudent to continue another day.
The following is a summary of work done that day:
The stone of David Badger was found broken about three inches above the ground. The lower portion of the stone was in the ground about two feet, with a large tree root growing laterally against one side of the stone pushing it at an angle. The ground was dug about one foot around the lower part of the stone. The tree root was cut and the lower portion of the stone was leveled and packed with sand. The top portion of the stone was then mortared to the bottom portion.
The stones of Uriel B. Chambers, the two infant sons of C. L. & Frances Priest and Mary F. Goodbar were matched with their respective bases. These bases were properly reset in the ground and the stones were reset in their bases.
The base of the stone of Leah Priest and her daughters was broken and cracked. This stone was also chipped badly at the bottom. It was deemed best to repair the base with concrete as best as possible and to reset the stone in the repaired base.
The remaining stones were left as is at this time.
On May 17, 2003, Lee Creed and Larry Tippin returned to the cemetery to continue restoration work.
The stone of William Henry Bedford was found below ground level. This stone was broken and in two pieces, with the crack well below the bottom of the inscriptions. This stone is a fairly small stone, measuring about 14 inches across and about 38 inches long, when pieced together. The bottom portion of the stone was set in sand about one foot deep. The stone was then pieced back together and repaired.
The stone for Mary A. Priest was found leaning against a tree at the west end of the cemetery. The west end of the cemetery ends at a precipice above the creek. The hill running down to the creek is very steep, and evidence of erosion is clearly visible. It was deemed appropriate to reset this stone about ten feet east of the location it was found. This is not likely the original location of the stone, but since it was found leaning against a tree it was not possible to determine where it should be set. If the stone were left where found, or if it were set nearby, it would have eventually found its way to the bottom of the ravine. By moving this stone and setting it properly, it should remain in good condition for many years.
After setting this stone, we had the nagging feeling that there might have been other stones at the west edge of the cemetery at one time. We went to the bottom of the ravine, and sure enough, there were two legible tombstones down there. These stones were a son and daughter of W. & D. Yeates and both stones were still attached to their bases. The dates were still legible, but the stones were broken off at the top just below the names. We were not able to locate the portion of the stone with the names of these children, who both died at less than one year of age. The stone for the daughter was at the edge of the creek, partially in the water. The stone of the son was in the creek bank with only the bottom of the base visible. The stone was firmly encased in the roots of a hedge, or orange osage, tree about four inches in diameter. We felt around the base and deemed that there was in fact a stone attached. We dislodged the stone by cutting the roots with an ax and literally pulling the tree away from the stone which then plopped down at the edge of the stream. Our jubilation from locating this stone and freeing it from the tree roots was short lived as we realized the next step would be to get it up the steep, muddy hillside. Since the stone was still attached to its base, it was heavy and difficult to handle. We estimated the stone and base to weigh at least one hundred pounds. Lee was somehow able to carry, wrestle and drag this stone to the top of the hill.
There was no way to determine where these two stones went. We also noted that the stone for Charles B. Yeats, who also died very young, was about the same size and style as these two stones. Judging by the dates and names of the parents, it seems probable these three stones are that of siblings. That stone was still in its base also, but it was simply lying atop the ground about twelve feet west of the stone of David Badger. Not only that, it was just a few feet away from the edge of the hill. If left at that location, it would no doubt have also ended up at the bottom of the hill along the creek bank in just a few years. After mapping the location of this stone, it was moved and reset immediately south of the stone of David Badger. The stones for the son and daughter of W. & D. Yeates were then set to the south of this stone. We know this is not where these stones belong, but there is no way to determine their original location. It was deemed this would be the best location for these stones so they would remain in the cemetery and not migrate down the hill again. It was very satisfying to honor these children by at least ensuring their stones were securely set and close together.
We then searched for more stones. Four new stones were located, two of which were legible and in good condition. The stone of Nannie W. Yeates, wife of S. N. Yeates, was located about 14 feet west, and about 30 feet north of the stone of David Badger. This stone was in good condition. It was righted and set in sand at the location it was found.
We also found a stone for William F. Priest, son of D. B. & N. Priest. This stone was located about four feet south of the stone of Wm Henry Bedford. This stone was also in one piece and in good condition. It too was set and packed in sand at the location it was found.
At this time there are legible stones for 15 individuals, all of which are upright and repaired. There are another 6-8 illegible stones in the area and evidence of more burials. It is possible more stones can be located in the future.
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