A Cemetery Trip With Orval W. Baylor – Washington and Marion Counties

The following was taken from my Pioneer History of Washington County, Kentucky, edited and indexed by Michael L. Cook.  Since the beginning of the year, I have come to thoroughly appreciate the work Michael did for genealogists during his lifetime.  I purchased many of his books this year and hope to find copies of everything he has written, since his dedication and work ethic is above reproach.

The gentleman who wrote the articles for The Springfield Sun newspaper is Mr. Orval W. Baylor.  Just reading his newspaper stories is akin to being with him in the car on his drives and during his visits to the various cemeteries.  It reminds me so much of what Ritchey and I do, and how excited we feel upon finding some of those very old graves and cemeteries – and preserving that history for others.  Would Mr. Baylor smile if he knew how much I enjoyed his escapades?

This article was published between September 21 and October 12, 1939.

As I sit writing these lines, my wife stands nearby, picking burrs out of my trousers and mildly reproving me for treating my clothes “so shamefully.”

Friend wife thinks I’m “Daffy” because I go roaming around over the county in search of historical data and trying to locate historic sites.  Well, if I am, then Mr. Joe Polin should get a similar lecture from his spouse.  We’ve just been out together, locating some uncharted graveyards.

We started out with a definite purpose in mind, and that was to locate, if we could, the exact site where Phillips Station stood in early times.  I knew from reading some old depositions in the clerk’s Office in Springfield, that Thomas Phillips and several of his brothers, were among the earliest settlers on Hardin’s Creek in Washington County.  They built a frontier station or fort near the mouth of a small branch which empties into the creek, and which took and kept the name, Station Run, because of that fact.

It is ten miles from Springfield to the site where Phillips Station stood, via the St. Rose and Loretto Road.  We found it rather difficult going over a part of the way, due to the road building now underway on that highway.  Incidentally, the contractor there is making excellent progress.  If he gets a few more weeks of fair weather, the residents of that section of Washington County will be going to and fro over one of the best highways in this part of the State.


Our first stop was made for the purpose of having a chat with a Mr. Ball and his family, who live on Road Run of Hardin’s Creek, about 8 miles from Springfield.  Mr. Ball is perhaps the oldest person now living in that part of the county.  He and his family occupy an old, but well-preserved two-story house, a part of which is of logs.  The house, so Mr. Ball told us, was built about 70 years ago by William Phillips, a son of Thomas Phillips.

From the Ball home, we continued on our way to the forks of the road, on the east side of Road Run near Gasburg.  There we took the right fork and followed along the east side of Hardin’s Creek to the home of Wallace Medley and family.


The Medley home is a large, two-story log house, weather-boarded over, with several large stone chimneys.  Mr. Medley told us that it was the old Thomas Phillips home, and that it stands on the site of Phillips Station.  From what I have learned about the station site from old depositions, I am satisfied that Mr. Medley’s statement is correct.

The old house stands close by the road which makes a bend in passing the dwelling.  It faces Hardin’s Creek and is about one-half of a mile southeast from the mouth of Stations Run, which empties into Hardin’s Creek on the east side.  Mr. Medley said that many years ago the house was a stopover for persons driving stock or hauling produce through the country over the road to Bardstown and on to Louisville.  From the size of the house, we surmise that it was capable of accommodating a goodly number of guests.

With Mr. Medley accompanying us, we drove on down the road to the bridge over Station Run.  From there we walked up the run a distance of several yards, to an old graveyard.  Like all private burying-grounds, harboring the dust of the pioneers, this one is covered with trees, briars and weeds.  We had to push and fight our way through, and risk the danger of acquiring scratches, chigger bites and torn garments.  Our efforts were rewarded, however, in finding of a goodly number of graves.  All but two, however, are marked by small native stones with no inscriptions.  The first exception was that which marks the grave of a mother and her infant daughter, with the inscription reading as follows:

“Adaline, wife of Wm. G. Newbolt, born October 31, 1828; died March 20, 1849.  Also, their infant daughter Frances E., born August 13, 1848.”  Both of whom fell victims to death by a hurricane, March 20, 1849.”

Now I must stop here for a moment.  Today we know hurricanes to be located on the west and east shores of the country.  It was probably a tornado that came through, but sure enough, the March 22, 1849, issue of The Louisville Daily Journal gives the following –

“The year of 1849 has so far proved a very disastrous one.  Floods, earthquakes and hurricanes have followed one another in quick succession.  The storm experienced here about nine o’clock on Tuesday night has done great damage east and west of us, and has even been attended with the loss of life.  It is indeed miraculous that more lives were not lost.”

Skipping a few paragraphs – “Some three or four miles from Bardstown the buildings on Mr. Odds’ place were greatly damaged, and some were blown down.  Mr. Newbolt’s house in the same neighborhood was blown down, and Mrs. Newbolt and her child killed . . .”

Proof that what was listed on the grave marker was correct.  Let us continue.

The second inscribed stone, is that marking the grave of Green B. Phillips, born April 26, 1805; died December 4, 1852.  He was probably a son of the pioneer Thomas, and the inscription says, “A loving husband and father; a faithful friend is buried here.”I

t is about three miles from the old Phillips homestead to the place where a notorious warehouse stood on the Beech Fork River in early times.  From old depositions we learn that this warehouse was the shipping point in early times for cargoes of whiskey, tobacco and other commodities of the country round about.  It stood a short way above the mouth of Hardin’s Creek, and a part of the stone foundations, together with the stone supports for the loading platforms, are yet discernible.


Doubling back to the Medley home, we bade our obliging pilot, Mr. Medley, adieu, and proceeded on our way.  At the forks of the road near Gasburg, we drove west, crossing Road Run and, in less time that it takes to write these lines, we came to the site of the old Hardin’s Creek Baptist Church and graveyard.

The church building has long since disappeared, but the rock foundation yet remains to show where this pioneer house of worship stood, facing Hardin’s Creek.  I have no record which shows when this church was established, or for how many years it continued in use.  There are a goodly number of graves on the burying ground, all but two marked by native stones with no inscriptions.  This indicates that the graveyard was laid out a long time ago.  The church, too, was probably built in the long ago, maybe before the first burial was made in the graveyard.  If some reader of this sketch can supply data relative to this church, I should like for him to send it to me in care of the editor of The Sun [The Springfield Sun].

The two inscribed stones in the Hardin’s Creek Baptist church graveyard mark the graves of “Nancy, wife of G. W. Moore, born 1827; died 1891” and “Mary, wife of C. C. Cissell, born December 7, 1865; died December 17, 1891.”


From the Hardin’s Creek Church site, we moved on our way, crossing Hardin’s Creek into Marion County.  The road was rough, and we made but slow progress, but eventually we came onto the improved highway at Smock’s Chapel.

Smock’s Chapel, a Methodist meetinghouse took its name from John Smock, one of the early settlers in Washington County.  His grave is in the burying-ground adjacent to the church, and the stone which marks it says he was born October 12, 1788, and that he died February 12, 1868.  He was twice married, and the graves of his two wives are side by side in line with his.  Cecilia was the first, died in 1833, age 38 years.  Letty W. was the second, born 1800; died 1876.

Several members of the Peake (or Peak) family, once prominent in the Smock’s Chapel sector of Washington County (now Marion), were buried in this graveyard.  Among the stones which mark their graves we noted:

George E. Peake, born October 10, 1797; died November 5, 1870.  His wife, Lucetta, born 1826; died March 19, 1875.  William A. Peake, born June 24, 1848; died March 14, 1892.  John D. Peake, born October 2, 1814; died January 14, 1892.  His wife, Elizabeth, born July 13, 1816; died September 15, 1886.

The Gardner family occupy many graves in the Smock’s chapel burying ground.  There are several long rows of graves wherein rest the remains of the departed folk of this clan.  We noted two, the oldest of the group, James Gardner, born May 6, 1789; died December 9, 1867.  His wife, Elizabeth, born May 29, 1799; died January 23, 1873.

The Smiths, too, are represented there by three graves.  Henry Smith, born March 27, 1809; died September 29, 1876.  His wife, Nancy, born January 5, 1813; died September 29, 1873.  Interesting, isn’t it, to note that this couple died on the same day of the same month, three years apart.  Elijah Smith, born May 21, 1858; died May 22, 1878.  He celebrated his 20th birthday, and then died the day after!

Three doctors, for doctors, too, must die, are buried at Smock’s chapel.  Mr. E. H. Muldrough, probably of the pioneer family of that name, conspicuous in the Rolling Fork sector, was born February 3, 1827; died May 18, 1858.  Not an old man at his death, being just 31.  The second medic was Dr. T. J. Wright, born April 11, 1843; died October 4, 1879.  He, too, died a young man.  The third was Dr. R. M. Peak, died July 14, 1868, age 32 years.  Verily, the doctors did all die young!


The hour of noon approaching, we headed toward home, via Loretto and Lebanon.  We had one more graveyard on our list, two for that matter, but we marked one of them off to wait a later jaunt, due to the lateness of the hour.

The last city of the dead is an old and long since forgotten one, on the Lebanon and Loretto Road, about 6 miles from the former place.  Situated a considerable distance off the highway, it is reached through a farmyard and a corn field.  Many long years ago there was a flourishing church there, standing on a knoll overlooking Hardin’s Creek.  I was told that this church, of the Methodist denomination, antedated Smock’s Chapel, and that it was abandoned many years ago for the present meeting place at Loretto.  The burying ground is one of the oldest in that part of the country.  It contains many graves, the most of them grouped according to families and enclosed by walls of neatly cut stones, and several with iron fence work around them.

The age of this burying-ground is readily seen when one notes the inscriptions on some of the stones.  For example, there is the one marking the grave of Benjamin Ray, who died March 4, 1820, age 80 years.  Another grave, more than a hundred years old is that of Nancy Smith, who died October 3, 1833, aged 81 years.

The majority of the inscribed stones in this graveyard have fallen down and now they are covered with dirt, dead branches, vines and weeds.  We had to do a great deal of digging and scraping, to get them up so that the inscriptions could be read.  That which marked the grave of Richard Burks, whose name I have seen many times in the old county records, is a large stone.  He was born January 20, ,1783, but the date of his death we could not read.  Alongside his grave we found Henry Parsons stone.  He was born in 1788 and died July 1839.  Jane L. Burks, wife of Richard, is buried there too, but her stone, for some unknown reason, we found some distance from that of her husband.  She was born in 1791 and died in 1862.

Several members of the Peake family are buried there, probably the members of the family who died prior to the removal of the meeting house to the Smock’s Chapel site.  There are Vancleaves, Hitchings and many others, some of whom perhaps, present-day kinfolk may be searching for.   

I must say that Ritchey and I have not visited any of the cemeteries listed in this article.  Perhaps a starting point for our next trip to Kentucky?

6 replies »

  1. Thank you for this post! I am currently researching the Peak(e) family from which I descend. I have visited Smock Chapel & cemetery. The last cemetery that he refers to is Thomas Burying Ground. I would love to visit it, but you have to cross private land to get there. If you ever plan a trip there, I would love to go!

  2. Thank you for the post. We truly enjoy the writings of past genealogists. My mother was a Jarboe, and her family had lived in and near Calvary for generations. So our eyes perk up when reading such material…. FYI I have been recording Jarboe histories for decades, from Europe to Maryland, to Kentucky, and points there on…. Currently working the life and family of Rev. Father Joseph Thomas Jarboe, O. P. (1806-1887), born near Springfield, KY. Much has been written about pieces of his life, but non as a whole. What’s interesting about his heritage is he a direct descendant of Charlemagne, the first Holy Roman Emperor. Also There are many canonize saints connected with Fr. Jarboe’s ancestry, stories that has been hidden from publications that associated with this accomplished priest. If there any interest, I can be contacted at RandyDunavan@gmail.com

  3. Thank you for posting this article. I, through my mother , descend from the Phillips at Hardin’s Creek. My 2nd great grand parents are buried at Smock’s Cemetery – Thomas T and Elizabeth Phillips. Very enjoyable read.

  4. So glad to read your Orval Baylor story. I’ve wondered for years where might Benjamin Tays father zjohn Rat is buried. Long covered over. Z Henry Parsons is a son in law of Benjamin Ray. Thanks for all your sharing. ann Sioes of Meade Co Ky

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