Letter to the Editor

Letter to the Editor: Rock Creek cemetery

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Dear Editor,

Recently I was talking with a friend who is in her 90s, and she mentioned her concern about the status of the Rock Creek Negro Cemetery, located north of Highways 240/41 on Montague Hill. Her grandparents are buried there, and it seems to be in poor condition.

I am sending you this information as I thought it might be an interesting article for the newspaper. In the past, organizations with young people have sometimes done community service in cleaning up old cemeteries.

Enclosed is an entry from the “1967 Saline County History” book about this cemetery. Apparently Rock Creek was a community that had a school and a church, as well as this cemetery. This is a piece of Saline County history that is disappearing.

I am not sure what can be done. I am also sending this information to County Commissioner Kile Guthrey and to the Saline County Historical Society.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Carol M. Raynor, retired

Marshall

Excerpts from the 1967 History of Saline County

ROCK CREEK CEMETERY

There is a small cemetery, known as the Rock Creek cemetery. It is not a church cemetery, or a family burying place. There are a few stones there and it is not kept up, or fenced.

There is a story concerning this cemetery about two Southern soldiers who fought in the Civil War. They were wounded and a family that lived on the farm, which is now owned by Earnest Hardin, took them in, cleaned them up, gave them medical care and hid them until they were well. When they were ready to leave, this family, who had cared for them, gave them food and horses. Unknown to the family, two Northern soldiers had been watching and waiting for the two Southern soldiers. The Northern soldiers let the Southern soldiers ride off and out of sight of the farm home. The Southern soldiers were then captured by the Northern soldiers and taken to the Rock Creek cemetery. Here they were given spades and each was told to dig a grave. When they had finished, the Northern soldiers told the Southern soldiers to get into the graves each had dug. Here they were shot and buried.

ROCK CREEK CEMETERY, COLORED

By Sadie Henderson

During the latter quarter of the 1800s, a large group of residents made up a community known as Rock Creek, located about 3 ½ to 4 miles northeast of Marshall between Highway 240 and the old Slater road.

The cemetery, in connection with the Methodist Episcopal church of Rock Creek, is on a lofty hill east of and at the end of the highway adjacent to the Sportsman Speedway in a northernly direction.

Rock Creek cemetery comprises three acres, located in the northwest corner of the southeast quarter of Section 6, Township 50, Range 20. On September 22, 1883, Elijah Harvey and wife, Lucinda, sold this land to John Henderson, John Vest and Frank Moran, trustees, for the sum of $90.

A few of the earliest burials in Rock Creek cemetery were Richard Fowler; two of his daughters, Mrs. Celia Brown and Miss Elizabeth Slaughter; their husbands; Ada Henderson, Burrell Gorham, Mrs. Cinda Corham and John Bassett.

There are approximately 125 graves in this cemetery. They include such family names as Vest, Doxay, Massey, Mason, Burkhart, Whitney, Graves, Bausily and others whom I never knew.

Due to the shift in population to urban areas, which has become general throughout the United States in recent years, there no longer exists a school, church or a Rock Creek community, as in former years. The cemetery is almost abandoned except for the interest the few survivors have for the upkeep of the graves of their loved ones buried there.

The last persons buried in Rock Creek cemetery were Lewis Gorham in 1942 and his wife, Mrs. Fannie Gorham, in November of 1951.

In recent years the weather has caused such damaging soil erosion that easy access to the cemetery has been prevented.

To overcome this obstacle, a few interested remaining relatives have financed a plan to improve the roadway to its entrance. This has made it possible to renew caring for its upkeep in a better manner than before.

Much credit is due and many thanks are extended to Bill Coad, R.R.D. 4, superintendent of Marshall Special Road District, who has been so kind as every year to help make this roadway passable.

Rock Creek cemetery is not incorporated and, unfortunately, there is no fund to assure its perpetual care.

To my knowledge, there are no human interest stories in connection with it.

To the remaining survivors, it will ever be remembered as the final resting place for many outstanding characters who were once recognized as leading citizens of the Rock Creek community.