One of the most exciting events during my 50 years of genealogy happened during our trip to Kentucky at the end of May. Billy Wilkerson from the Simpson County Historical Society brought his ground penetrating radar machine to the small Linton family cemetery just outside of Springfield, Washington County, Kentucky (a few miles north of Springfield on Hwy 555). Within the cemetery are seven gravestones, but I knew more people had to be buried there. An iron fence, typical of the time period, was erected about 1900-1910, to enclose the cemetery. After that the cemetery was no longer used, and after all older family members passed on the cemetery became overgrown and few knew of its existence. I guess the area in the cemetery to be about a fourth of an acre, perhaps larger.
In 1973 I began my family research. At that time, you could obtain a driver’s license in a month after your 16th birthday. I visited the Washing County Clerk’s office many, many times. To get to the old records in the basement you walked down a spiral staircase to the mother lode of wills, marriages, deeds and other records. Miss Olive Walker reigned supreme as genealogist extraordinaire. I suppose she could sense how important genealogy was to me, even at that young age. She took me under her wing, showed me what to search for, where it was located in the ‘dungeon,’ etc. At that time the only copy machine was on the first floor, so it was up the winding steps with those huge record books!
It was during this time I asked my maternal grandmother, Mary Alice Montgomery Carrico, about the Linton cemetery. Her mother was Frances Barber Linton Montgomery. She told me it was a short distance from the house she lived in while growing up. My parents and I went to the overgrown mess – looked like a huge bramble/briar bush and made a small dent in the underbrush – at least enough to find Captain John Linton’s grave and the six other stones located in the cemetery.
Fast forward fifty years – years spent researching the Linton family, as well as all other lines in my family tree – and people who are not related to me. Fifty years waiting for this moment.
The day had come to see how many people were buried here. Billy started in the southeast corner at the edge of the fence, three feet from the Captain’s gravestone. Taking three steps he found the first unknown burial beside the Captain and put a yellow flag to mark the spot. I felt that his wife, Ann Mason Linton, who predeceased him by four years was buried there, and it makes perfect sense that she lies buried next to her husband! Next in the row, John Linton and William Moran have gravestones. The footstones for William Linton and Benjamin Franklin Linton are in the next spot and were at one time at the end of their graves. Next is a headstone with no name – it is smaller and could very well be the footstone for John Linton, as it is shaped like his headstone. There is an adult body buried there according to GPR. Next are the stones for my third great-grandparents, William Linton and Eliza Moran Linton (the daughter of William Moran buried in the same row). Beside them Billy found the grave of a child. And past the child’s grave is an adult grave. Many years ago, there was a footstone in this area of the cemetery with the initials W. F. When Captain John Linton came in 1818 to Washington County from Loudoun County, Virginia, my great-grandmother Frances wrote he brought an inmate with him by the name of William Frost. I always thought he was a convict. When Ritchey and I were in Loudoun County about ten years ago, researching the family, I found an old paper that said Benjamin Mason was the head of the poor house. This is Ann Mason’s father. It continued saying that at his death, Captain John Linton took over the work. And the people who lived in the poor house were called ‘inmates.’ This gentleman was not a convict, just someone down on his luck. Evidently, he came with the family during the move to Kentucky and was buried as a family member in the cemetery. William Frost was living in William Linton’s household in the 1850 census.
On to the second row, behind where the last body was located, John L. Edwards is buried and next to him, his wife Mildred Nancy Linton Edwards. They have gravestones. Mildred is the daughter of Benjamin Franklin Linton, son of Captain John, and John L. Edwards is the son of Nancy Linton, daughter of John, and her husband Edward Barber Edwards. Next to Mildred’s grave are the broken pieces of the gravestone of Benjamin Franklin Linton, but Billy said no one was buried there. Another mystery.
The seven gravestones mentioned are the only stones in this cemetery, but as we continued in the second row, another body is buried behind where we think Ann Mason Linton is buried. The next row has four bodies, the next row six. The last row has seven bodies, two of which are infants that Billy thinks were buried at the same time, very close together. Twins? I know my second great-grandparents, Edward Edwards Linton (son of William) and Catherine Elizabeth Taylor Linton, had five children who died as infants.
Within the cemetery 23 additional people are buried than the seven stones that mark the graves of John Linton, William Moran, Eliza Moran Linton, William Linton, John L. Edwards, Mildred Nancy Linton Edwards and Benjamin Franklin Linton (although his stone is not at his grave). A total of 30 people are buried in this cemetery.
This may have been the end of our story. Redemption Point Church of God bought the property about ten years ago. They take excellent care of the cemetery, keeping it beautifully mown and trimmed. When we visited the cemetery before we moved to Michigan three years ago, they had placed markers for their cemetery, beyond the Linton cemetery fence. Since the iron fence was placed around the cemetery so many years after the burials, how did they know the true dimensions of the cemetery? Billy started on the outside of the cemetery at the back, west. Immediately he found a body buried outside the cemetery. There were four more in that row. On the south side he found two bodies, and two on the north side. He was very surprised to find nine burials outside the fence. On the north side, one of the new graves of the church is six inches from an older body buried there.
Luckily, I found a number for the church minister, called and told him what we found. He was amazed. The church allowed three feet from the cemetery fence for member burials, but they will need to allow a bit more after our findings. All yellow flags were left for the church to view.
It was difficult to get the machine close to the fence, it is possible more bodies are buried under the fence line.
This was a major reason to check the cemetery – I knew more people were buried there than the seven with gravestones, but I also worried an older grave may be unearthed when digging a new one!
To summarize, there are 32 unknown graves in and around the cemetery. Adding to the seven with stones, a total of 39 people are buried at the Linton cemetery! Wow! Many more than I thought! Now to decide who these 32 people may be. But that is for another day.
If anyone is interested in having Billy Wilkerson come to a cemetery to check for burials, email me for his information.