28 March 2010

Anna Sanders McBrayer & The Missing Tombstone

Compiled by Teresa Martin Klaiber 2010

Yes for the moment Anna Sanders McBrayer's tombstone is classified as missing. It proves the extreme importance and value of all those volunteer hours to document row by row readings of cemeteries and the power of the photograph.

In the late 1960's I was utilizing polaroid film. It was in the early years of my genealogical quests and
I did not date the photograph. But we estimate that it was taken between 1968 - 1974. I clearly remember standing in Sexton Cemetery on Pigeon Roost, Boyd County, Kentucky when I took the picture of the stone. We commented that someday it would be nice to repair the stone as it lay on the ground. We were visiting from out of state and time ticked on.

In the mid 1970's the Kentucky Historical Society organized a state wide cemetery reading project. Evelyn Scyphers Jackson spear headed the project in Boyd County, Kentucky. She and her volunteers did a row by row reading of cemeteries in Boyd County, Kentucky. Her field notes for Sexton Cemetery are dated 1976 with updates dated 1977. Anna Sanders McBrayer's tombstone appears on the list. Thus the tombstone was still in the cemetery in 1976.

Working in the genealogy department of the Boyd County Library, in 1999, I created a master cemetery database with the goal to put it on line to assist patrons. With the wonderful help of Michael Fleming and Carol Lovitt we entered all of the recorded cemetery data from the 1970's project. That alone was a daunting task. Anna Sanders McBrayer's entry from the 1977 reading is in the database.

In 2004, as part of the Boyd County Fiscal Court Cemetery Board, we were facing another daunting and now ongoing task. With the advent of digital photography I was able to start photographing each and every stone in cemeteries without the cost of film development. One of the first cemeteries to be digitized was Sexton Cemetery. You now can access the Master database online at the Boyd County Library or visit the library to view any of the digitized cemeteries at the computer stations located in the genealogy department.

While I explained to anyone that listened the importance of updating the cemetery database including new burials, I also pointed out the importance of the new project because of damaged or lost stones. Never did I dream that the lost tombstone would involve my children's 3rd great grandmother.

With recent new genealogical discoveries about the McBrayer family, I turned to the digitized 2004 Sexton Cemetery photographs to provide a descendant a copy. Anna is not there! Thus between 1977 and 2004 something may have happened to the stone. My team methodically shot each stone in the cemetery but mistakes do happen. The cemetery lays on a point surrounded by woods. It is maintained by boys incarcerated at the Hack Estep Home each summer. Thus the stone may have been moved or because it was broken grass and time could have embedded it. It is time to pay the cemetery another visit, taking along a probe, BarPak and base frame. I am optimistic that we will find the stone.

Anna aka Anne and Annie in records was born 6 March 1807 in Kentucky. She was the daughter of Jacob and Sarah Sanders. Anna married James R. McBrayer 7 July 1823 in Floyd County, Kentucky. Sometime between 1839 and 1842 they settled in Lawrence County, Kentucky. In 1844 they purchased land from William C. Carter on what is known as Four Mile. The deed is filed in Carter County, Kentucky. The land is now part of Boyd County, Kentucky.

The McBrayer's had at least 10 children. Three of her sons served in the Civil War. William Parks McBrayer was with Company G, 45th Mounted Infantry and Solomon served in Company D of the 39th Kentucky Infantry along with brother Lewis Parker McBrayer. In August 1863 her husband, James R. McBrayer signed the Oath of Allegiance stating that he would support the constitution of the United States and the constitution of Kentucky and would not give aid to the Rebellion or against the government.

The family moved to Rowan County, Kentucky after 1875. James R. died 5 January 1880. He is buried in what is called Hoggtown Cemetery aka Turner Cemetery. Hoggtown became a part of Elliottville. The family states that Anna was on a visit in Boyd County when she died 25 April 1889 and because the wagon trip would be long & the roads were muddy, she was buried in the county where she died.

This pioneering lady was a child during the War of 1812, saw the formation of 3 separate counties, survived the Civil War and raised 10 children.


  1. This post has been corrected. The original post included a picture of daughter Mary Ann McBrayer and husband John Andrew Klaiber. If you have copied the post prior to correction please make note.

    1. At the request of the family, Anne Sanders McBrayer's remains were moved to the Turner Cemetery at Elliottville KY by Northcutt and Son Funeral Home, and then reburied next to her husband, James R McBrayer.

      I'm not sure of the year but my father, Bert McBrayer and my brother, Arthur were involved in that process. They are both now deceased.

      Janet McBrayer Dulin

      Bozeman MT