10/29/08 — Residents try to locate family connected to area graveyard

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Residents try to locate family connected to area graveyard

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on October 29, 2008 1:46 PM


Jennifer Avery kneels beside an unmarked gravesite in the woods near her Saulston home. She first discovered the small cemetery as a girl playing in the woods and now hopes to find relatives of the people buried there.

Nestled in the woods off Wayne Memorial Drive past Saulston is a small cemetery that area residents say is a mystery.

Jennifer Avery, who lives near the graveyard, said the site, which contains only two or three graves, has been there for years.

"When I was 12 or 13 years old, we would play in these woods," she said as she leads the way to the site.

The graves are unmarked. There is only a small marker, about six inches wide, that is so old that the inscription on it has faded and is unreadable.

Working her way through the tangle of briars and underbrush, Mrs. Avery reaches the small plot, which lies beneath a large tree.

The only clue to who lies buried in the cemetery is a memory she has of an old woman who lived in the neighborhood when she was a child.

The woman, who was at least part Indian, told Mrs. Avery that she had family buried there.

"She used to tell me about that graveyard. She told me that some of her ancestors were there," Mrs. Avery said.

Elliott Futrell has written a book about cemeteries in the Wayne County. The book is available at the county museum. The unknown cemetery is listed in his book but there is no record of who is buried there. Futrell said he believes the cemetery was predominantly used by blacks, but he also said that he has heard that it also contains the graves of Native Americans.

The location is a little spooky. As crows caw and the sky turns a darker gray, the forest seems somehow alive. When the wind blows down a few branches, even Mrs. Avery is a little startled.

She said she simply wants to find out who is buried in the small, forgotten cemetery and if there are any relatives interested in helping keeping the gravesites marked.

The land the graveyard sits on has changed hands numerous times before, but the current owner can't be reached, she said.

"My husband and I tried to buy that, but we couldn't get in touch with the owner."

Still, she feels the graves deserve to be kept in better condition than they currently are.

"These are somebody's ancestors -- somebody's family," Mrs. Avery said.

Anyone with information about the graveyard, or knowledge of someone who does and would like to help preserve it, is asked to e-mail amyers@newsargus.com.