Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Symbols of War

The corner of stone was barely sticking out of the ground and I'd already dug up a few other relatively intact stones. Carefully digging and moving the dirt away, exposing first a few words, then more.  There was so much dirt embedded in the carved image in the oval near the top that it took lots of water and brushing to get it all off.

Bit by bit the beautiful flags came to light, then the cannon, and the cannon balls at the base.  I've never seen this image before. Symbols of war.

The stone says: William Keys, son of L. & C. Keys born near Tahlequah Cherokee Nation Jan. 17, 1843 and died at Flat Rock Creek February 6, 1875.

Keys Cemetery (also listed as McDennil and Cherokee Cemeteries on Find-A-Grave) in Wagoner County is at the south edge of Highway 16 west of Okay in Wagoner County.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Cane Creek Cemetery - Muskogee County Oklahoma

I guess you could probably find some humor in this if that is how it affects you.  Sad was my emotional reaction walking up to this scene.  Saddness, the impulse to plant a new tree, fix the fence, clean up the charred remains of the tree, just the overwhelming desire to fix it.  I didn't try.  Someone else had been there and left flowers and returned the stone to its upright position.  Did they have the same emotional response that I did?  Was it a dear one buried there?
Closer and you can see the details of the damage to the fence.  

Monday, February 28, 2011

Military Service in Old Agency Cemetery

Old Agency Cemetery was established about 1857 a mile and one half east of the Union Agency at Fern Mountain. The cemetery is still in sad condition even though a brave group of men have weathered the elements and the environment to work on it during the winter months. The majority of burials here are Creek Freedmen.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Makes You Wonder What He Was Doing Here

For Oklahoma, this is an unusual stone because it resembles those found more commonly in the eastern states. Besides that, it has survived a long time except for having been broken by a mower in recent years. The man that owns the property told me he had accidentally hit it while brush hogging the area.

Mr. James McDennil died in 1850 in what is called the Three Forks area of northeastern Oklahoma in what is now Wagoner County, just west of the small town of Okay. The little cemetery is called Keys for the family that owned the land although no Keys gravestones exist here, if they ever did.

Why was Mr. McDennil in such an unpopulated place in 1850? Did he live here or was he just passing through? Where did he come from? Why did he die? My curiosity has yet to be satisfied.

February 25, 2012. Some family information can be found on Find-A-Grave under "McDennil" Cemetery, Wagoner County Oklahoma.  I won't post it here because I don't copy what others have written.  Here's the link though:

Monday, January 12, 2009

"A Most Singular Monument, Such As I Never Saw Before"

Although I have visited hundreds of cemeteries, family plots and single graves, by far my favorite is the grave of Spring Frog in the very old (for Oklahoma) cemetery near the little town of Briartown in southern Muskogee County. The stone is unusual, so unusual in fact that Briartown resident Lucy West (1904-2005), a local historian and genealogist, once commented that at one time the gravestone was recognized and shown in "Ripley's Believe It Or Not."

The photo above I took in 2003. When you compare it to the one on the right that Lucy West took in about 1967 you can see a big difference. All of the first of the three layers is now underground.

In a 1955 "Notes & Documents" article in the Chronicles of Oklahoma, Muriel H. Wright described the stone: "This grave is marked by a large coffin-shaped marker of sandstone, about 5 1/2 feet long and 8 inches thick lying on a base of two similar stones of the same shape, each a little larger than the stone above. The marker is beautifully cut and bears an inscription in Cherokee (Sequoyah alphabet), which has been translated by someone: 'Spring Frog Born 1803, Drowned in Canadian River, 1859.' This is said to be the oldest grave in Briartown Cemetery."

Lucy West noted in a 1970 interview that Spring Frog died 31 August 1859 at the age of 100 years. Lucy was Cherokee herself so she may have related her own transcription of the Cherokee writing on the stone.

I. B. Hitchcock "rambles over the Cherokee Nation"
and described the stone in an article "Noted Spots in the Cherokee Nation" for the Twin Territories: "Another is a most singular monument, such as I never saw before. A pile of rough-dressed native sandstone is built upon the grave, and on that lies a perfect, solid coffin cut from the nearby sandstone, with an inscription in Cherokee characters--the name, age, and date of death of [bottom of page missing] place of 'Spring Frog,' 'Doostoo'--100 years old."

Karen West Sanchez and her brother and sister sitting on Spring Frog's stone. 1967.

Photo from the West family collection.