Family Stories

Mary McMurtry Rose Buried At Memorial Acre – Is She, or Isn’t She?


I have been working on the Rose Family Cemetery that is located on Maude Lane in the small town of Burgin, in Mercer County, Kentucky.  The land has been owned by the VanArsdall family for many, many years, and is still owned by descendants of the same family.  What is so remarkable is that when my parents moved to Burgin in 1983, they lived next door to Roger and Geneva VanArsdall.  Their home was on Main Street, but Roger and his brother owned the farm at the back of my parents and the VanArsdall’s.  This cemetery was sitting there, waiting for me to find it, but until this fall I never knew it existed!

When a few members of the Lewis family came to Harrodsburg to search for their families, they were also interested in the Rose family, and through research we found the cemetery!  I shall stop at this point on the Lewis Cemetery.  That will have to be a blog for another day, as I am still trying to read the old gravestones and decipher what I can.  But in looking through the records it has led to a conundrum.

In 1937 Captain Lewis Rose, his wife, Mary Hatton McMurtry Rose, and son Charles Rose were exhumed from their burial spot on the VanArsdall farm, and interred in the small plot of land next to Fort Harrod Pioneer Cemetery, which is known as Memorial Acre.  This I had found previous to the Lewis family research, and I was eager to share this with them.  But as I sit here today, trying to piece together who was buried in the Rose Cemetery in Burgin, jogging dates, pieces from family bibles, wills and other bits of information, it occurs to me that the woman who is buried beside Captain Lewis Rose in Memorial Acre could not be his wife Mary – the dates on the above ground gravestones show she was born in 1779.  We know that Mary Todd Hutton was first married to Captain John McMurtry, about 1761.  Their first child, James, was born in 1771, so she had to be born before 1779.  After the death of John McMurtry, Mary married Captain Lewis Rose in 1793.  On the marriage bond is written she is the widow McMurtry, and that she and Captain Rose have grown children.  This definitely eliminates her birth date as 1779.

The gravestone in Memorial Acre reads, ‘Mary McMurtry Rose, wife of Lewis Rose, born February 4, 1779, Mercer County, Kentucky, died November 24, 1854, Mercer County, Kentucky.  A true pioneer mother, lived where Shakertown, Kentucky, now is, defending self and children against Indians, while husband held war captive.’

I am sure the intention was to move Mary McMurtry Rose’s body to this site, and commemorate her, along with her husband, Captain Rose.  There was another Mary Rose in the cemetery on the VanArsdall land – the wife of Charles Rose, son of Captain Lewis Rose, and daughter of Alexander Lewis.  She was born February 4, 1779, and died November 24, 1854.  Was her body moved to Memorial Acre?  Or were the dates just mixed up between the two women with the same first and last name?

How will we ever know?  The re-interment was in 1937 – probably everyone that had anything to do with it are long dead.  It could be that the correct body was moved, but the dates taken from another grave.  However, I think this unlikely.  DNA testing would possibly reveal information if we could find direct descendants, but I’m not sure the body could be exhumed, even if there would be DNA left after such a long time.

So in conclusion what should we say?  Possibly Mary Hutton McMurtry Rose IS buried beside her husband, Captain Lewis Rose, but the dates are incorrect on the gravestone.  Or, Mary Lewis Rose is buried beside HER husband, Charles Rose, with the wrong last name and information on the gravestone.  What do you think?


5 replies »

  1. The stories about the re-burial are on If you don’t subscribe, I can email them to you.

  2. We are ever and always on the trail of our Alexander Lewis. This only adds to the mystery. Thank you for guiding us along the way. Your research and friendship continue to fuel our search. Forever Grateful

  3. Thank you for commenting on this. Mary and John McMurtry are my great, great, great, great grandparents. In 1990 when my mother and I visited Ft. Harrod and the cemetery, we noticed the date discrepancy.

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