The following story, authored by George W. Taylor in 1975, tells about the Bethany Cemetery. The story was brought to the CHIEF by Richard McGuinn.
What better story for the Halloween season?
Bethany Cemetery, often erroneously called Hallett Cemetery, is considerably older than Hallett. It was originally the property of a church of a sect commonly called Dunkards. This community was settled by a large number of Dunkards. One of them, Will Phillips, set aside an acre of land in the southwest corner of his homestead for a church.
His homestead was the SW quarter of Section 3, Tsp. 20N, Range 7E. I never thought to ask just when the church was built. Many nonDunkards attended as it was handy. On the death of a child of W.D. Oliver, a member of the church, a cemetery was needed. C.H. Gregory donated an acre of his homestead for this purpose. It was across the road south of the church in the NW corner of Sec. 10', Twp. 20N, Range 7E.
Two Oliver children are in Lot 73, the second lot from the SW corner of the cemetery. The Oliver homestead was the NW quarter Sec. 9-20-7 most or all of which is now Hallett townsite. The standpipe is about in the center.
It may be possible to establish the date from records in Pawnee. If not, I remember my mother telling of her sister, Myrtle Vickers, daughter of John Vickers.
Myrtle died July 14, 1898, and was buried at Jennings. About a year later, Bethany was established and Aunt Myrtle was moved to it. Thus, she has been dead longest of any buried here. She is buried just east of the Oliver children.
The original plot was never surveyed. Families selected a plot and somebody staked a grave. This resulted in several instances with lots having no alley around them. The southern-most eastwest alley is 8 feet wide, while 4 foot alleys were intended.
At least 2 instances, in my knowledge, someone usurped part or all of a choice lot another family had already buried on. This caused some unpleasantness that lasted for years.
The Dunkards did not charge for space and no charge for opening graves was made until 1963 or 1964. I do not know when charges for space began, but I do remember them selling six grave sites for $2.50--if they had it (the money).
Six grave sites for $20.00 remained the price until the mid-1960's. No one has ever been turned away for (reasons of no) money, color or creed.
At least 2 blacks and probably 4 or more are near the SE corner of this part. Two stones were placed but the stonecutter took them down because of non-payment. Both are knocking around but the graves are lost.
The Dunkards apparently had itchy feet. Before too many years passed, they were all gone. Those my family knew of wound up in Washington, Oregon and California.
The church itself was moved to Hallett. I think it became the Hallett Herald, but won't guarantee that.
Left with no guidance (for the cemetery) the community took over. I do not know how the Board of Directors was formed or all of those on it.
Duty Ward and William Taylor were on it and George Fleming the elder was on it or got on at an early date.
My grandmother, M.C. Taylor, was secretary-treasurer. No minutes of meeting were kept, but a record of lot ownership was kept.
Osa Marple took over when grandma got too old. She served until her death and was succeeded by her daughter, Mable Inman.
I think George Fleming was succeeded by Joe Fleming. Duty Ward was followed by his son, Ed Ward, who resigned and was followed by his son, Ramsey.
Ramsey died, and his place was taken by John Ward, brother of Ed. John Bejcek followed his father, also John. William Taylor resigned, , followed by his son, George A., who resigned in the early 1960's to be followed by me (George W. Taylor). Richard McGuinn followed John Turner, and that is all I know of the Cemetery Board.
No plat of any kind existed of this cemetery until after I retired in 1963. The plat is not oriented to the section cornerstone.
The west fence and the north fence were used as base lines and all measurements made there from.
I had no tailman on the chain, but used a metal pin pushed firmly in the soil. Accuracy may be set at a amount you wish to assign.
The names on the plat came from stones, my own knowledge, and from any other available source.
Osa Marple-Dillard, Inez Marple-Guinn, George A. Taylor, Effie Taylor and Ed Ward furnished most of the information on unmarked graves.
At least one unidentified grave is there. I believe the plat is about as complete as is possible.
For the record, families of persons buried on lots 23, 24 and 33 have given permission to sell the vacant spaces as they will never use them. This could hold 12 graves. Lot 60 will hold 6 more graves.
(Trivia: My family (father's side) has 5 generations (direct line) in this cemetery at this time. Rogers have 4, but I think 5 is the tops.)
When space began to be scarce, the Board bought an acre from Ben Gillispie. It is across the road west. He was paid $100.00. The deed will show the date.
The County Surveyor laid off the lots. The lots are 24' by 8', containing 6 4-by-8 foot grave sites.
Four 4-foot alleys separate all lots. No lot is nearer the fence than 4 feet. A row of single gravesites lies between the last lots and the south fence.
The surveyor had only one man, so my father took me out of school to pull chain. A wooden stake was placed at all corners of all lots. An accurate tracing and blueprints were made.
Realizing how temporary the wooden stakes were, Ed Ward and George A. Taylor gathered old collard, nipples, sucker rod ends and other junk metal to replace them.
About half-way through, they ran short and started marking one or 2 corner only. Bricks were also used to mark corners on the west side.
Some time after Walter Wagoner died, his widow bought chain link fence for all outside fences. The Board built the fences.
Before a caretaker was hired, everyone took care of their own lot. Leftover soil was leveled rather than removed. This accounts for the difficulty of locating corners. It is also sometimes necessary to dig a foot or so to determine whether a gravesite has already been used.
To the best of my knowledge, Oran (Pete) Marple was the first paid caretaker who mowed regularly. At least a time or 2, in the teens and 20's, Ezra Taylor was paid to clean the cemetery, but that was a once-a-year deal.
Wilcox succeeded Marple as caretaker. When his health failed, about 1975, the Board, with the help of volunteers, kept the place mowed.
Chief volunteer was George Fleming II. Richard N. McGuinn was a regular prior to his appointment to the Board and is still in on most deals.
In 1968, Flossie and Inez, sisters of Oran Marple, bought pipe for a flag pole.
The Board and volunteers got the fittings and erected the pole.
The steel ball in the NW corner of the concrete is the SE corner of a lot and can be used as a starting point for measurements.
In 1975, more permanent copies of the plats were made. The cemetery paid $100.00 on them and R.N. McGuinn paid about $30.00 on them.
It has always been the policy to place a flag on the grave of each veteran on Memorial Day.
Mrs. M.C. Taylor kept the flags and placed them until she was physically unable to do so. Her daughter, Sarah Hart, carried out the tradition until unable to do so. Osa Dillard inherited the flag ritual and passed it on to Mable and Clifford Inman.
Notes to Bethany Cemetery Story
by Richard McGuinn
This note is regarding the "lost" graves with the 2 stones "knocking about".
In 1976, G.W. Taylor (author) and I (Dick McGuinn), mounted a project to find those lost graves. As you remember, Taylor was a plant specialist, so he reasoned if we inspected the area with regularity during the spring "coming-up-green" season, we might be able to outline the "lost graves".
We knew approximately where they were--within 20 feet.
We visited the suspected site twice per week starting March 1 1976, and on a visit in late March or early April, we outlined the specific graves perfectly.
The grass growing in the disturbed area was quite different from that growing in the undisturbed areas. Taylor said it was due to the altered moisture holding qualities.
The stones, which had been against the fence in the southeast corner of the East (old) Cemetery, were laid flat on the ground over the re-located graves.
The stones were individual, so were the graves--obviously--so we knew not which stone went on which grave.
The graves are those of the Kelley children, Alta Dean, and Clara, Lot 91, in the East (old) Cemetery.
Don Fowler, email@example.com June 2001.
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