There are some little known places and forgotten corners of Pulaski County, but those that are most fascinating to some people are the forgotten cemeteries. Pieces of our day to day history, our past, are buried with those in the forgotten cemeteries and they offer some insight into the history and lives of the people of Pulaski County.
Older cemeteries in Pulaski County have been forgotten and overlooked. We just don't think about these cemeteries. The Daily Guide talked to two enthusiasts who care about the preservation of Pulaski County’s forgotten cemeteries, Laura Huffman and Denise Severs.
“Some tombstones hint at the story directly, others take more dedication and research to unravel. A respectful stroll through a cemetery can teach one the history of an area, and of the people, and families who have left their legacies to us to cultivate and remember,” Laura Huffman wrote in her story, “Between the Dashes.”
Denise Seevers commented, “When we bring attention to forgotten cemeteries we do so because we want to remember these those who have passed and left their mark on this earth. Those buried In these cemeteries all have been forgotten. Nobody visits them or takes flowers to their graves. It's just sad. The people, the souls that were buried there deserve to be remembered and respected.”
In the early 1800’s and 1900's people were buried where they grew up and lived. The cemeteries were mostly family owned cemeteries.
As time when on, people moved. No one stayed in the same place anymore and the family cemeteries became overgrown and forgotten.
The Poor Farm Cemetery is a big part of Pulaski County history. The Poor Farm Cemetery was established around 1874 and was in operation until around 1947. People who lived and worked on the Poor Farm had no other means to support themselves or their families. It was their way of life. When they passed away, they were buried at the Poor Farm Cemetery.
Over the years this cemetery, no longer used for burials, slipped away from Pulaski County collective memory.
Laura Huffman researched and found the location of the Poor Farm Cemetery.
Very few people were even aware of the cemetery or its location. The Poor Farm Cemetery was located on private property and was completely overgrown and unmarked. The cemetery had been neglected and ignored for decades.
In August 2010 after receiving permission from the landowner Huffman started the initial cleanup and restoration with the help of a group of Navy Seabees.
Huffman said her goal was , “to clean up and preserve the Pulaski County Poor Farm Cemetery, to honor those who are buried there and allow a place for family members to gather and pay respect, and to provide a place for the community to have visible reminder of an overlooked part of Pulaski County history.”
As the workers started clearing the heavy brush and shrubs, a few crosses marking gravestones were visible.
As the project progressed, almost 200 unmarked graves were discovered.
In 2010 the Pulaski County Historical Society initiated the Poor Farm Restoration Project. Maintenance of the cemetery is an ongoing part of restoration project.
Seevers said, “We should all make an effort to keep these cemeteries clean and taken care of the best we can.”
Bradford cemetery is located in Pulaski County. It is the final resting place for many of Waynesville’s earliest settlers and pioneers.
Seevers told the Daily Guide, “Bradford most likely started when someone in the family died and the family needed a final resting place. The earliest headstone appears to be from 1864.”
According to “Tombstone Inscriptions of Pulaski County,” “there are at least 32 unmarked graves, one marked by an illegible metal marker, and a broken headstone with the name Earl.”
There are two cemeteries in Pulaski County with the name Bedford. To differentiate between the two, this Bradford Cemetery was called the William Bradford Cemetery. The other Bradford cemetery, now on land that is part of Fort Leonard Wood, was called the James Bradford Cemetery.
Laura Huffman’s story “Between the Dashes” touches on the lives of some of the folks who were laid to rest at Bradford by focusing on aspects of things that occurred while they were living.
Brookview and Mitchell are two more forgotten cemeteries.
The Brookview Cemetery is a very small almost unnoticeable cemetery. It is located by the playground area in the apartment complex. It is believed that at one time there were 15-20 graves. The Pulaski County Historical Society was only able to save 2-3 headstones.
Mitchell is a small cemetery tucked away in a housing area on Elm and Main. Not much is known about this small cemetery. It is located in an area where Mitchell Farm used to be and was most likely used to bury those who lived or worked there. Mitchell is the oldest cemetery in the city limits of Waynesville. The oldest tombstone is dated 1857.
Severs said, “Sometimes talking about forgotten cemeteries brings out another element in people: ghost hunters and people who think they need to be out there conducting seances.” Seevers continued, “the people, the souls that were buried there deserve to be remembered and respected.”
Huffman told the Daily Guide “These cemeteries have been forgotten from our memory and overlooked. Those buried In those cemeteries are part of our day to day life and pieces of our history and our past. We don't just think about them. Cemeteries shouldn’t be scary. Families have buried their loved ones there. Cemeteries are a place to reflect, to remember and to share memories of that person to future generations. A respectful stroll through a cemetery can teach one the history of an area, and of the people, and families who have left their legacies to us to cultivate and remember.”