A Cemetery Within A Cemetery

Today was one of those days early on in March that the sun was shining and the thermometer on the back porch was climbing to reach for the line of 60 degrees.  Everyone wanted to be outside doing something.  After working on shaping up the yard yesterday, today was a pleasant day for Archie and I to take a walk.   With no real destination in mind, we wandered down to East Street and headed north towards Porter Street.   I was taking some photos of old sheds as we walked around town.  It felt so good to be outside, walking in the sunshine; I decided to head up to Sunset Cemetery and take a photo of Jane Bolin Gipson’s grave.  She was a sister to my great grandfather, Aaron Bolin.  I wanted to add it to my family tree on Ancestry.com. 

   Sunset Cemetery Road is bordered on both sides by strip mine pits, leftovers from the strip coal mining that obliterated the area some 50 and even 80 years prior.    Tall hardwood trees, wildlife, ferns, rocks, fishing, swimming, and morel hunting are just some of the treasures the old strip mines have provided for us.  It was an ugly ravaging of our land that has left behind a sort of raw beauty that we in the area have learned to appreciate.  Sunset Cemetery Road used to go all the way through to a neighborhood that no longer exists between Winslow and Cato, homes and history eradicated by the coal mines.  

Strip pit area along Sunset Cemetery Road

Strip pit area along Sunset Cemetery Road

    I am sorry to say that over the years vandalism has caused the road to be gated at night.  When we passed through the gate, an angel was sitting on the post.  Placed there by caring hands, and I have a good inkling of whose hands they were.

Sunset Cemetery Road gate and Guardian Angel

Sunset Cemetery Road gate and Guardian Angel

     The woods are still brown and dormant this time of year.    Up the hill before you reach the cemetery, to the left you can see one of the old road beds cutting a swath through the woods, going nowhere, with trees older and taller than the rest standing guard in a row along the top of its banks. 

Old Road bed leading nowhere

Old Road Bed leading nowhere

     Around the back of the cemetery on the far north side, is the Debruler Cemetery.  Old pioneer graves uprooted and now just a row of newer square markers.  It is kind of bleak and forlorn, with its row of newer stones compliments of the coal mines.  A cemetery located within a cemetery. 

The Pioneer Debruler Cemetery located in Sunset Cemetery

The Pioneer Debruler Cemetery located in Sunset Cemetery

     The Debruler Cemetery originally was located back in that area between Winslow and Cato that the coal mines razed, up around Flat Creek Cemetery Road or the Land fill Road or to be correct Road 50 S, where there was once a road off to the west that went through what is now a strip pit.   The Debruler Cemetery was moved to Sunset Cemetery in 1969.

Debruler Cemetery located in section 21 of Patoka Township on 1881 Plat Map

     There are two original stones.  One for Joshua C. Thomas and his wife Amelia A. and one for James M. Dearing and his wife Elizabeth J. 

Joshua C. Thomas and wife Amelia A. Marker

Masonic symbol on Joshua Thomas stone

Masonic symbol on Joshua Thomas stone

James M. Dearing and wife, Elizabeth Jane Thomas stone

James M. Dearing and wife, Elizabeth Jane Thomas stone

If you click on my link to the 1885 History of Pike and Dubois County, James M. Dearing’s biography is in that book.  

    James M Dearing is a son of John and Polly Dearing, who were natives of Virginia and Kentucky, respectively.  They were married in the mother’s native state and followed farming as an occupation.  The father’s death occurred in 1863 and the mothers in 1823.  Our subject was born April 6, 1818, in Washington County, Kentucky and came to Indiana and settled on a farm in Marian Township, Pike County, and began his career as a tiller of the soil.  In 1842, Elizabeth Jane Thomas, a native of Virginia, became his life companion and the mother of eight children – four sons and four daughters:  Isaiah, Mary (deceased), James (deceased), Maria, Robert (deceased), Margaret, Louisa and John.  Mr. Dearing’s education is very limited, but all the family can read and write.  They are members of the Methodist Church and his political views are Republican.  He is a successful farmer and one of the old pioneer settlers, and a prominent and respected citizen of his township. 

      The long row of shared stones, two names to a stone, read:  James M. Dearing & Elizabeth J. Dearing, Robert H. Dearing & James W. Dearing, James H. Dearing  & Mary F. Dearing,  J.M. & E.J. Dearing, William H Debruler & William Findley, 10 marked with unknown two times on each stone, W.H. Debruler & M. F. Debruler, J.P. & M. McCormack, Infant McCormack  and Ann McCormack, Lusebry McCormack & Calvin Bacon, Findley & Elizabeth White, Richard Dearing & Mary Thomas,  Joshua W. Thomas & Maria B., A. & J. Thomas, Lewis Thomas & Joseph Thomas, Joshua C & Amelia Thomas. 

Long row of stone markers

Long row of stone markers

   A marker erected reads:  In Memory of all Friends and Relatives which were originally buried in the Debruler Private Cemetery in Patoka Township, Pike County, Indiana.  Their remains were reinterred in this Cemetery October 28, 1969. 

In Memory of Debruler Cemetery Marker erected by coal mines

    The Pike County Genweb lists  buried in Debruler Cemetery:  Calvin Bacon; Dearing Family Members:  Elizabeth, E.J., Elizabeth J. J.M., James, James M., James R., James W., James W., Mary F., Richard, Robert H., Robert H., John F.;   Debruler Family Members: Jabey (Civil War Veteran) ,  M.E., W.H., William H.; William Findley; McCormack Family Members:  Ann M., Infant, J.P, Lusbrey, M.;

     When I walk, my eyes are always on the ground watching where my feet are going.  They had ditched the side of Sunset Cemetery Road for drainage.  Over the years I have dug up old bottles in the old areas.  Off to my right lay a pile of old bottles that had been dug up as the drainage ditch went through!  Some were old medicine bottles, some old white jars, some amber and one old blue bottle.  I put the old blue bottle and one medicine bottle in my “pooper scooper bag” that I had not yet needed and carried them home.  They are now on my front screened in porch with the rest of my bottle collection, a souvenir of today’s walk to Sunset Cemetery. 

Old bottles dug up in the ditch on Sunset Cemetery road

Bottles from Sunset Cemetery Road

Bottles from Sunset Cemetery Road

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One comment on “A Cemetery Within A Cemetery

  1. Shannon Smith says:

    I enjoyed reading your blog about my old hometown, especially about Sunset Cemetary. My dad is buried in the cemetary, and as I child I rode my horse all thru the stripper pit area, one time cutting thru all the way to Seven Lakes, going places that I probably shouldn’t have :). Thanks for writing it. I’ll look for some bottles next time I’m there!

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