24 April 2010

Anna Sanders McBrayer, The Rest of the Story, Rest In Peace

compiled by Teresa Martin Klaiber 2010

No research project can be attributed to one specific researcher and the puzzle about Anna Sanders McBrayer's Tombstone is no exception. I blogged about the discovery of her missing tombstone several weeks ago. Since then the story has unraveled with sincere thanks to Carl McBrayer, "Jim" [James Franklin] McBrayer and "Bob" [Robert Lewis] McBrayer.

I will take the reader through the steps it has taken to unravel the problem of the missing tombstone. Sometimes things are just not the way they first appear.

Shortly after writing the story I carefully went through the many pages of Sexton Cemetery records I
have collected over the years. Sexton Cemetery is in Boyd County, Kentucky. Besides the picture posted in the last blog I discovered that I had a 1997 35mm photograph, along with a map showing the specifics of all the graves in Sexton Cemetery for that year.

Comparing the 1997 photograph with the 1970's photograph you can see that someone has repaired and uprighted the stone in Sexton Cemetery, Boyd County, Kentucky.

With map and probe in hand we spent two afternoons searching for the tombstone at the specific grave site and around the edges of the cemetery in woods and weeds without results. As we came down the hill my husband wondered out loud if the stone had been moved to Rowan County to be next to her husband. Both of us seemed to vaguely remember James Earl McBrayer talking about it many years before but had thought the issue dropped.

Carl McBrayer is the "keeper" of all things McBrayer. A wonderful telephone chat and search of his records showed that at a McBrayer Association meeting in 1978 the subject had been broached but he had no other information or follow up in the notes for her.

If the stone was moved I could now surmise that it had happened between 1997 and 2004 when James Earl McBrayer had died. Carl called Jim McBrayer and I quickly had a picture of her tombstone in Hoggtown Cemetery, Rowan County, Kentucky. You will note that when reset they removed the broken section without damage to the writing. The stone has been placed next to her husband who did die in Rowan County, Kentucky.

But then Boyd County Coroner pointed out this presented another problem. He did not remember any paperwork crossing his desk and he was concerned that just the stone had been removed. Since Sexton Cemetery, Boyd County still receives burials could this now be an unmarked grave that could be disturbed unknowningly with a new burial.

According to Kentucky KAR when there is a disinterment a permit is to be filed with the State Registrar of Vital Statistics and the local cemetery authorities be notified. The unofficial family caregiver of the cemetery was Harold Sexton, now deceased. The removal must be done by a certified funeral home. We were sure caregiver Harold Sexton would have told us had he been aware as we live very close and visited often. And I applaud Vital Statistics. Melody did a two day search year by year including 2001 without result. She did not locate the proper form.

This lead several of Anna's great great grandchildren to start talking about getting a new marker for the grave in Boyd County where she died. Remember I said not all things are as they appear even when you have followed the paper trail!

On the 22nd Bob McBrayer wrote that James Earl McBrayer's nephew Arthur had shared the information and photographs of the removal of not only the tombstone but the remains of Anna Sanders McBrayer. Bob wrote: "I remember him saying noone from the family was present when the exhumation took place. The remains were put in a box and placed next to James."

Every good researcher knows to document any historical event. By providing the date in 2001, Carl was able to go back through files of the McBrayer family newletter In Defiance and quickly sent me an article along with photographs that were taken by the funeral home Northcutt & Sons in Morehead, Kentucky. Thank goodness for family newsletters!

Anna Sanders McBrayer is now at rest in Rowan County, Kentucky next to her husband of many years, James R. McBrayer. The unmarked location in Sexton Cemetery can be utilized for future burials without disruption. The Boyd County Cemetery Board has been notified so that the county cemetery database and records can be updated for future researchers. A notation will be placed in the comment field showing the date of exhumation and location of the new site.

A final research comment. The last reading of the Hoggtown, aka Turner, Aka Elliottville Cemetery was made prior to 2001 as well. Future researchers may have to puzzle over this again. If a new researcher or younger descendent comes across Anna's burial site in Rowan County they may assume that she died there. There are no Kentucky death certificates for 1889. That tombstone is the only recorded "document" of her death. As we older researchers hand over the reins and records we hope they pass down the story and "the rest of the story" to their children.

Anna had come back to Boyd County where she had lived with her husband for 45 years before moving on to Rowan County. She died while visiting family in Boyd County in April when a wagon trip back to Rowan would have been difficult. She laid at rest for 112 years in Sexton Cemetery, Pigeon Roost, Boyd County, Kentucky before being reunited with her husband's grave in Rowan County. May she rest in peace.

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