Unknown Fleming Co. Cemetery

Submitted by Kathy Jones-Kristof (cousin of Joyce Eggleton, November 2004)

Earlier this summer my husband found a little cemetery just behind our barn along the fence line and we decided to learn the story behind the abandoned graves. Our first stop at the court house proved to be the correct and last stop for information. Fleming County has a full-time genealogist on staff in the basement of the courthouse. Caren Prater is a wonderfully nice, kind person who was very excited at our find and stayed after work that night to delve into her files and get us some answers. It seems the tiny cemetery was reported to her about thirty years ago. However the description at that time was "the old turkey farm" and she didn't know where to find it. So now she knows.

Let me say at this point a few things about how we discovered this cemetery.  My husband Bob is meticulous about cleaning his fence lines and keeping the perimeter mowed even before we built our house. There is a pile of firewood in front of these little graves from a tree that lightning struck next door.  The neighbor came over and cut and stacked the firewood, repaired the fence to keep his cattle in and then left, promising to come back and get his firewood. Until that happened, I would take the string trimmer out and cut around the firewood, however I couldn't get the area perfectly clean because of several rocks. Then one hot day this summer Bob came running in the house, hollering for me to get my shoes. I thought for sure he had killed a huge snake or worse. He told me that the longer he trimmed in the firewood area, the more obvious it became that those "rocks" that had impeded my trimming efforts were actually four infant tombstones, all born between 1860 and 1872. We went next door to talk to the owner of the firewood and he verified he knew the graves were there because his wife found them while they were removing the tree. He also has a huge tombstone back on his property line. He couldn't remember the name on it but said that he would ask one of his kids.

We transcribed all of the information on the little tombstones and went to the courthouse to see where to start and that's when we found Caren. Her research revealed there are five babies and two adults buried there. Just across the fence there is what appears to be half of a tombstone embedded in the part of the tree trunk that is still standing. Beside the babies is a square rock chiseled into a square and broken on the diagonal. No inscription. There is an unnamed daughter born in 1860 who lived two months, a twin boy and a girl born/died in 1867 and another son who was born in 1872 and lived two days. They were the children of Robert Henry Wilson and Susan Parker Gooding. What we found strange is that the two children who lived are noted as "infant" as is the male twin, yet the twin girl is named Louisa after Susan's mother. They also named another daughter Louisa who appears in census records. Caren said the tombstones are of that time frame (1860's  and 1870's) since one stone has T. McCan engraved near the bottom and that Mr. McCan cut tombstones around the time of the Civil War.  The stones are in remarkable condition considering they are up to 144 years old. She said searching the deeds would be very hard since the original farms were very large and have been cut into sections many times since the turn of the 20th century. However she is sure this was the Gooding farm since they owned vast amounts of land at Wallingford and this would have been Wallingford then.   Also, a neighbor told Bob that his deed search showed Gooding back before the turn of the century. The Wilsons are shown in the census as being residents with or near the Goodings. I also found Susan's father's will on the internet showing he had given her a slave before he died and thus she received none at his death. Both Susan and Robert are buried in a cemetery some distance from here. Caren gave us other information about the area and residents, too. The house next door was built in 1790 by an American Revolutionary veteran by the name of Arburtis Ringo. "Burtis" came here for the land grants promised to the soldiers. His brother and father were already here it seems and he obviously had this whole area as his grant. I found lots of information about Burtis on the internet and it felt as if the babies and Burtis were relatives. And it very well could be that the Goodings lived in that house next door. We probably will never know exactly where their house was. All this was as exciting as if we had found long lost relatives and everyone now wants to see the graves when they visit. Even Caren is coming out and bringing a friend with a rod (?) so they can try to determine if there are any other stones under the surface. She says it is amazing what you can find under the ground. She also wants to go next door and see who's buried over there.

I feel sure the stones behind our barn are not in proper alignment since the twins are not side by side, so we will just straighten them up and make the area nice; maybe plant some flowers. After all, they were someone's beloved babies and someday maybe someone will keep my grave nice.