News about the Barry County MO Cemetery Project
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This story and the photos here are all the property of Dane Martin and may not be used without his permission.
Click here for Dane's address
Dane Martin and Gerald Haddock
[Cousins - they descend from Charles Haddock, Jr. and his second wife Susan (Meyers) Rumbaugh]
It was the last day of March 2004, a wonderful sunny spring day in the Ozarks and we were off to one of those outstanding little adventures in life!
My cousin Gerald Haddock had come to Greasy Creek Holler (yes my Harvard type friends have told me itís spelled Hollow) to visit in the spring of 2003 and we had a great visit. After his retirement from teaching at one of the better-known collages in the US, he has taken on a project because of his love of family and Barry County Missouri. He is finding and listing all of the several hundred cemeteries in Barry County complete with GPS locations. It has become a bit of an obsession with him and his intention is to someday write a book listing all of them. The thing that really drives him crazy is to know about a cemetery and NOT know where it is or whoís buried there.
On a visit in 2003, in the course of our conversations, I mentioned the fact that I had once as a child, visited Seven Star Cemetery with my father. My dadís people came from Star Holler and several of them lived there for many, many years and some still do. There just isnít much about that area that someone in our family doesnít know about.
When I told Gerald that I knew about the cemetery, it was like someone had hit him with a cattle prod, his head came up, his eyes got wide, he stuttered a bit and then told me that it was one of the cemeteries on his list that he hadnít been able to find and could only get a few rumors about. He was so excited he dropped his cold soda and it was clear from the look in his eyes that I had better come up with some kind of answer. I told him I would look into it and we would get it done, but that I would have to have a little time to work it all out.
Now you have to understand how things are down here in these hills, the people who live here are some of the best in the world but fiercely independent to say the least. An outsider has a hard time getting the time of day out of most people but if you are family, even distant family, almost nothing is out of reach. Not only will they give you the shirt off their back but launder and starch it for you. Its best to remember that here, there is a gun behind the front door of nearly every house and every pickup on the road has a gun in it. It keeps people honest and makes for good manners. The idea of barging onto someoneís property to look for an old cemetery sounds like a good idea but should be tempered with some thought of living to a ripe old age.
During the winter, I contacted one of my Martin Cousins who still lives in Star Holler and asked him if he knew where the cemetery was as it had been over 50 years since I was there and couldnít quite recall its location. In his best Hollernise drawl, Donnie Smith told me that it was up behind his place in the woods. He then told me he would love to take us up and show us around. I let Gerald know, and the hunt was on!
Gerald and his wife Faith arrived in the Holler on the morning of March 31, 2004, it was good to see them again. We had a little coffee and good conversation and compared some notes and old family stories and it was time to head for Star Holler. We arrived at my cousin Donnieís house and of course had to follow the etiquette of the Holler. Tradition dictates that you get out of the car and present yourself. Donnie and his wife came out and invited us for coffee and everyone became acquainted and thanked them for the offer on the coffee. Donnie and I made arraignments for him to bring his Coon Dogs to my place at some later date to hunt, we talked about health and the weather and it was time to go and Rattle some tombstones!
We pulled out onto the small red gravel road and followed Donnieís battered old 4X4. We drove past the Coon Dog cage and down the road for a quarter mile or so and then pulled into a pasture over a cattle guard. The drive way led through the pasture and log yard where 40 or 50 nice walnut logs lay and then through the yard of his daughters house. We then drove through another pasture, past the rusting hulk of a 57 Chevy and stopped at a wire gate. Gerald jumped out and with two or three minutes of fighting the barbed wire he managed to get the gate open and both vehicles were through. We closed the gate of course as cattle were in the field.
Next came an old pasture that has grown up in brush and wild rose bushes tried to rip the mirrors off of our SUV. Another quarter mile of brush brought us to the big timber on the top of the ridge, right beside the lane was a nice size tombstone and you could see Geraldís eyeís light up.
We only found the one stone that was dated 1881; we did find a burial vault still sitting on top of the ground and one grave that had a crude rail fence around it. There were several depressions in the ground that clearly were unmarked graves and we did manage to find some field stones that at sometime may have had a name scratched into some of them.
After an hour of poking around in the leaves and brush we all gathered at the car and had a talk. I asked Donnie if he had any idea of why they would bury people way the heck up on this ridge? He smiled and told us that in the early 1880ís that seven springs had been found in Star Holler and the story spread that the water would cure all kinds of diseases. Very soon hundreds of people showed up like magic to TAKE the waters and the town of Seven Star Springs was formed and became the 2nd largest town in Barry County Missouri. Then very shortly afterwards a huge flood occurred and wiped out the entire town. As many as 40 or 50 people from the town died in the flood and were buried there on the ridge as it was close and most of them were unknown and had no one to pay for the burial.
Gerald had his GPS location, had inventoried the entire cemetery, all ONE of the marked stones and it was time to head for home. We felt like we had accomplished something useful and had a great afternoon with a little adventure. The next time you look at a listing of Barry County Cemeteryís you will know what kind of effort that is sometimes required to get just one stone listed. It was worth it of course and I can only hope that some time you too can experience something like this, itís a labor of love.
Gerald Haddock is attempting to record all the cemeteries in Barry County, MO.
BARRY COUNTY, MISSOURI BURIALS
by Gerald Haddock
I have no idea how many entries there will eventually be. Already a list of persons buried in the cemeteries so far recorded can be printed in hard copy. The plan is to provide such a list for every Barry County cemetery to put into hard copy book form as well as electronic data base. Thus the project has turned into much more than giving location of the cemetery.
Barry County, MO, Project
This a massive project and will require a lot of work. If you have done some cemetery work in Barry County and would like to help Gerald or are interested in his work you can write to him. Click here for his e-mail address. He said, "The sheer size of what I'm doing is staggering. But, even as I get further into it, there is abundant evidence that every new entry is just that much more than had been pulled together before. Its all out there, but scattered as bits and pieces in so many sources."
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© Copyright 2003
by Donna Haddock Cooper
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