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Old Elk Creek Cemetery in Disrepair

By Tom Watson
Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Every summer I get a call, letter or email from someone who is either planning to visit Spencer County or who has stopped by. Sometimes I get to visit with them and other times they're on tight schedules and I miss them. All who contact me are asking about cemeteries, their ancestors or Quantrill. It's amazing how many people care about that old boy.

It isn't often that I can answer their questions, but when I am able to shine some light on the shadows of their family histories, it is a wonderful experience for me. That's because I know how excited the visitors are to learn more about their family trees.

They visited this summer from Missouri, Louisiana and Florida. Calls came in from other states as well and emailed questions arrive all the time.

I was able to help people from Florida and Louisiana because they turned out to be cousins. We shared information and were delighted with the results.

Two women, one from Louisiana and the other from Florida, were really disheartened after visiting a Grigsby-Watson Cemetery on the Spencer-Nelson County line because it had been nearly obliterated by cows.

Nevertheless, they were able to confirm that some of their ancestors were buried there. I had written down gravemarker inscriptions at the cemetery years ago, and that helped too.

Andrea Cowser and Wes Marquess of Eureka. Mo. were downright upset to find the Old Elk Creek Cemetery in shambles as well. Andrea wrote:

"I was there August 5 with a cousin and found the cemetery is totally abandoned. I would like to see about rebuilding at least part of the wall my ancestors were buried behind. I would also like to have it cleared of trees and brush. I have a little money put away for this project. I don't think it will be enough without the help of the people of Taylorsville."

Andrea Dekens Cowser is the fifth great granddaughter of William Kidd Marquess and Eleanor Magruder, who are buried in what many people call the cemetery in "Dead Man's Curve." It is more properly often called the "Beard Cemetery."

From past explorations, it is known to contain the graves of
John Beard, born Jan.15, 1792, died Dec. 29, 1859;
James M. Beard, born Feb. 21, 1784, died Nov. 22, 1847;
Margaret, wife of James M. Beard, born Nov. 1, 1785, died Sept. 19, 1867;
Foot Stone A.D.B.; Thompson W. King, died June 26, 1837, age 27 years, four months;
Mary, wife of S.V., died June 22 (no year given), age 26 years, five months (stone broken);
Maggie, daughter of J.P. and E.H. Beard, born Jan. 14, 1851, died Sept. 14, 1851;
Mildred J. Stone, born Jan. 15,1825, died Dec. 31, 1845;
Isabel Swearingen, born May 18, 1813, died Sept. 3, 1846.

In addition, it is tradition in my family that Daniel Purcell, brother of Alexander Purcell, my great, great, great grandfather, is also buried there. Both brothers were soldiers of the Revolution, fighting for our side against the Brits.

Daniel Purcell was the great, great, great grandpa of former Governor and U.S. Senator Wendell Ford. Alexander Purcell is buried near Plum Creek, on a hill across from the large rock house.

Andrea has brought up a subject that our elected officials and Historical Society should really examine in all seriousness. The city and county need to get behind an effort to honor the dead by cleaning up and restoring our cemeteries.

A bank account could be set up and people wishing to donate to the project could send their checks to the account, perhaps indicating on the check which cemetery they'd like to have the money used for. That way, people like Andrea and her family could mark their check for the "Beard Cemetery." Anyone interested in the Old Taylorsville Cemetery, or Pioneer Cemetery as it is also called, could direct their money to that final resting place.

There's no reason money could not be donated to the Valley Cemetery, but the organization that keeps Valley in tip top shape obviously would not need the money nearly as much as the cow-crushed graveyards scattered about the county.

So, judge, commissioners and all other parties that should become interested, what do you say? Do we want weeds growing over our graves someday and cows crushing our stones? Do we want evidence of our existence obliterated?

Then why would we even consider that those people who are buried from one end of Spencer County to the other would have thought otherwise?

Many of them are the reasons we are alive today. Others may be of no relation, but did a great deal to make Spencer County grow and prosper. They grew the crops that fed the people, helped govern the county and state and many gave their lives in battle for the side they supported and the country they loved.

Someday, sooner for some, later for others, we will all share that soil with our brethren. Let's do something now to show that Spencer County people have respect for their ancestors, or indeed, simply respect for the deceased.

Last time, a covered bridge photo was identified as the one that used to span Brashears Creek. It wasn't, I don't think. I believe all those covered bridge pictures were of the Salt River bridge at Taylorsville in different years.

If anyone has a Brashears Creek covered bridge picture, please let me know.

Tom Watson
5225 Little Union Road
Taylorsville, KY., 40071.
Phone 502 252-9991
Email apwriternews@yahoo.com.

To email Andrea Cowser, use this address: andreacowser@netzero.com


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