Last weeks blog has stirred something up in me that is kin to a burning desire to find those who have vanished into the days, weeks, and years since their passing. I want to clip down the over grown foliage, mend the broken markers and fence out the cows. I have only begun my journey.
Thank you to all who sent me messages and especially to my friend Janie who emailed me some interesting links. I have barely skimmed the surface of those lives that are six feet under the sod on the hillside below my house.
In a survey taken on February 23, 2008, surveyor, Joe Hicks documents facts concerning what I have learned is called, “The Gentry Cemetery.” He does indeed say that Cassie, or Cassy as is carved into her stone was born 2/13/1832. She was the daughter of Matilda and Wiley. (See below.) Then she did indeed marry a man called Levi D. Burcham on 3/25/1856. Then only a few short months later she died on 11/3/1856. Mr. Hicks as I, speculate that she probably died during childbirth.
Mr. Hicks findings go on to say that there is also a marker with the name of Rebecca Gentry, birth 1874, death October 187?. He states that this marker is very difficult to read. His findings show the girl named Rebecca could have only been a child, less than six years old. Did she fall prey to whooping cough, polio, or pneumonia? We will probably never know the cause of her death.
The surveyor also lists Wiley Gentry, born 3/10/1805, death 5/27/1878, and another partially legible marker bears the last name Gentry, born 1805, died 1878. Strange that Wiley and this unknown Gentry man were born and died in the same year. Mr. Hicks states in his findings: “Cattle have not been kind to the markers and most of them are broken or pushed over and laying on the ground.” Here is the link to Mr. Hick’s findings if anyone is interested: http://www.facebook.com/l/DAQEjwhJeAQFvTUZMlyD25YEKWetPzmrpsqoImMb6bcIoeA/cemeterycensus.com/nc/surr/cem364.htm.
Mr. Hicks says there was another marker with the name Carla Spence; born 6/3/1810, date of death unknown in “The Gentry Cemetery.” In my search of the cemetery I found no such marker. What could have happened to it? In 2008 it was there, but in 2013 it is gone. Could Carla have been the innocent orphaned slave girl who no one seems to know what happened to? And, why would someone remove her marker? Yes, me thinks there is much more to her story. Don’t worry, I’ll keep “digging.”
Matilda, born March 1805, wife of Wiley Gentry was the daughter of Reuben and Cassa (Buttery) Sparks. She died August 18, 1878, in Surry County, North Carolina. Her husband Wiley was the son of Jonathan and Sally (Fender) Gentry. Wiley and Matilda were the parents of eleven children. You can find their names and stats at this website:
My research has found that the Gentry legacy started with Reuben and Cassa (Buttery) Sparks and descended to my neighbor’s husband, Harold Hurt. Harold’s mother, Emma Laura Gentry was born April 27, 1885. She married William V. Hurt on August 20, 1914. They lived at Edwards Crossroads, North Carolina, where they reared four children. Clyde Fowler Hurt, born October 5, 1915. William Ovid Hurt, born October 27, 1917. Orena Grace Hurt, born May 31, 1920. Harold Worth Hurt, born March 21, 1924.
Whether Harold’s parents, Emma and William are buried in “The Gentry Family Cemetery” still remains a mystery for there are no stones bearing their names in the plots below my house.
My next quest is to go to the old cemetery below the house I grew up in on Preacher Field Road, Wilkes County. Old tales say it is the burial ground of Native Americans. I have yet to prove that. But regardless of rumor, many a night as a young imaginative child I’d look out my bedroom window down at the old head stones and my mind saw Indian’s dancing in the moonlight, their blazing torches bobbing up and down and back and forth. I’ll keep you posted on my findings.
As the weather warms I hope to “excavate” more information on some of these old cemetery sites. I’m also looking into the rules and regulations on their up-keep. For all who can decipher legal mumbo-gumbo here is the website for North Carolina Laws and Statutes Regarding Cemeteries and Neglected Cemeteries.
I have always said we need to be writing our stories down. If our lives are not documented then they’re lost. Sure, our name might be engraved on a stone somewhere, but will anyone really know who we were? Will anyone even care?