Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday

This is the story about the cemetery and tombstones nearly forgotten in the woods. It is the story of my great-great-grandparents, William and Rachel Wiseman Bean.

The Bean Cemetery is located near the tiny hamlet of Waiteville, WV. In order to reach this little burial place, one must park their car on the edge of the one lane road and hike across a wide open field to a dense stand of trees and woods. It is here that you will find William and Rachel's final resting place.

For over 100-years the little cemetery sat. It's tombstones slowly deteriorating and breaking away with decay and disrepair. Until 10-years ago when the family placed this new memorial tombstone for our ancestors.

We know there are several more buried here, as evidenced by the broken stones that remain.

On Sunday, August 9th, I visited this tiny little cemetery for the first time.

I photographed 10 stone markers. And I counted 11 mounds and depressions that were indicative of grave sites.

I located pieces of the old wire fence that once surrounded the cemetery, as well as the rotting fence posts that have long ago fallen over and are swiftly becoming a part of the forest floor.

The cemetery was covered in small trees that have grown there since my Dad was a boy. He recalled the open area then, with a few large trees surrounding the graves. Now trees grow right through the grave sites.

I saw deer scat, and counted 4 squirels scampering through the trees while we were there.

Standing on the hill, as I looked to the south, I could clearly see the old homestead. I could see why my great-grandparents would want to be buried here. Overlooking their beautiful log home.

No one alive today knows who is buried in which grave. And, as I have stated, the 10-grave stones that remain are worn with time and if there was ever any engraving on them, it is lost to time. Still, we do know that William and Rachel are buried here. Rachel died in November of 1856, less than a month after her daughter Nancy, both with a fever of unknown origin. Son Archibald's first wife, Amanda died in this area, and was buried here, about 1852. Daughter Emily, and her husband, Thomas, [d. 1889 and d. 1888 respectively] are also believed to be buried here. And William is buried here [d. 1864]. I can also account for 3-slaves who were buried here as well.

This is a beautiful spot.

The property has long ago left family hands, and is now owned by a hunters co-op. They will not allow us to do any more improvements on the cemetery. That includes a protective fence.

My heart breaks that one day, no one will know where this little slice of history is at. The forest will either encroach completely. Or the property sold yet again.

It is the protectiveness within me that despairs. These loved ones are my past. They are my core. And I am helpless to protect their final resting place. I despair that the family let this land slip from them.

As I stand here, breathing in the warm summer air, from this mountain side, I feel at home. So at home.

I speak to William and Rachel now. "Rest in peace. Know that your future continues with the family. We are growing. And we are stronger than ever. Rest. Rest in peace."

1 comment:

dustbunny8 said...

What a special place and memory you have of being there.I can not understand how people can deny protection to holy ground like this.What harm or loss would it be for this land to be fenced off or even deeded to the family of those that rest there?We have lost the ability to be fundamentally decent to others unless forced too,it seems.I am so glad you got to visit this place at least and shared it with us.Thank you.