Old Locust Meeting House and Cemetery

Submitted by Michael Rawlings

According to Deed Book 29, page 334, a deeded transfer dated October 18, 1848, by the remaining trustees of the Locust Meeting House; by Benjamin Northcutt, Basil Hunt, William VanSandt and Elija Story, a parcel of land containing ½ acres more or less is sold to Garret Hickison for $40. Also stated in the deed to delineate the location of the subject property; "… all the following tract or parcel of land being all the land north of the graveyard which formerly belonged to the Trustees of said church containing one half acre more or less…". 

A purchase deed recorded in Deed Book A, page 416-418 in 1801 by the first trustees of a new Methodist Episcopal Church, later to be known as the Old Locust Meeting House and its Cemetery, now known as Crain Cemetery, identifies the purpose of constructing a church that was likely built in 1801 or 1802 according to a reference from material contributed by Ruby Payne of Bellaire, TX. for an article written by a Mrs. Owens for her article in 1976 for the Bi-Centennial that was published in the Democrat Newspaper, Fleming Co., KY, no date given by the contributor.

The sellers of this roughly one acre plot of land were Edward and Susanna Warren who had received contiguous acreage in 1800 from Lewis Craig who was empowered to dispense lands of John Mosby's 30,000 acres per a land patent survey in 1785 and a subsequent division survey of 1788.

What appears to have been the original trustees of the Old Locust Meeting House, James Winnins , Elisa Vacant (VanSandt), Absalom Hunt , Isaac Lawrence, Joseph Goddard, Absalom Hunt and Elisha VanSandt, of the 1801 purchase deed includes two of the same family names that were represented in the 1848 deed previously identified therein as remaining trustees; Basil Hunt and William VanSandt.

This 1801 deed of roughly one full acre, long -north to south, and recent renovation work suggests that a 1/2 acre area that contains the cemetery proper is situated in the northern half of the one acre site of this purchase deed from 1801 in support of a theory that the ME Church and Meeting House was constructed and situated in the southern half of the one acre site with access to the cemetery through purported stone pillars along today's southern fence line of Crain Cemetery. 

One might also infer, from the above excerpted deed to Hickerson by the remaining Trustees in 1848, that the 1/2 acre cemetery grounds and the ½ acre to the north of the cemetery as referenced in the 1848 deed, may represent the same roughly one acre purchase that is identified in the 1801 purchase deed. However, the topography of the site today and other circumstantial evidence may more accurately suggest that the church was situated to the south of the cemetery. Clearly, a clarification continues to elude us at the date of this writing.

Old Locust Meeting House and its Cemetery, now known as Crain Cemetery, was located along the old Clover Road that is mentioned in various early histories of Hillsboro and was situated before and near where the old road jogged sharply west and then resumed its path northward at roughly a midway point between Hillsboro and Poplar Plains. Clover Road served as the basis for a more straightened modern turnpike, now known as Hwy 111. The graveyard continued to receive burials well past 1848 to as late as 1893. 

It is possible that the church structure may no longer have been standing by 1848 and also possible that the above referenced October 18, 1848 deed represents a final disposition of matters under the responsibility of the remaining Trustees of the Old Locust Meeting House. The Locust Meeting House was a log structure in use roughly between 1801 and 1844 judging in part by the publication; Record of Trials and Testimonies, 1810-1844 with meeting house minutes purchased at an auction by Martha Royce some years ago. 

The deed entry establishing the sale of the ground to the Trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church from Edward and Susannah Warren in 1801, is contained in Deed Book A page 416-418. A transcription of this deed is contained in the deed book submitted by Ruth Keating and may be found here: http://www.kykinfolk.com/fleming/deeds.htm.

For information about the Old Locust Meeting House and its Crain Cemetery located between Hillsboro and Poplar Plains in Fleming Co., KY or if anyone has any old records, information or old newspaper articles about this historic site that they wish to make available for copy, please call Elaine Logan at 606-876-2121. Your input is very much appreciated.

June  2011