Stones serve as a reminder of nearly forgotten cemetery
Lynne McGee Tutor looks over document copies regarding the old New London Cemetery. While long abandoned, she hopes to arrange for the legal moving of the remaining stones to a protected cemetery site. MARY LOU MONTGOMERY
MARY LOU MONTGOMERY
Legend has it that back in the mid 1800s, old Mr. Carstarphen owned the property just to the west of New London, where the town traditionally buried its dead. He wanted to let his hogs run on this property, and pushed to have the burial plot moved to the west, where old Mr. Biggs owned property.
Not used for burials for many years, this western cemetery site, adjacent to what is now U.S. 61 just to the north of the intersection with Route 19, is considered a utility right of way. Some years ago a strip of the cemetery land was dozed to remove trees, and consequently old headstones were pushed aside.
Lynne Tutor, a history buff and a documenter of Ralls County cemeteries, has been studying the status of this long-forgotten cemetery for five years now. Her goal is to see that the remaining headstones are moved to a site where they can be properly maintained.
By studying records regarding the cemetery’s history, Tutor learned that there were originally 106 people buried at this cemetery, from the late 1700s until into the 1920s. She found the articles of incorporation dated Jan. 6, 1869, when Ezra Buchanan sold the 315x325-foot piece of property to the citizens of New London for $75.
When Barkley Cemetery at New London opened in 1906, some of the stones and/or bodies were moved the new site, but not all.
Currently, Lynne knows of 10 stones that are still on the property, at least three of which are along the fencerow adjacent to the Missouri Department of Transportation’s right of way for U.S. 61.
“Two I can’t read, and six are readable, somewhat ,” she said. “Another stone was split in half when a right of way sign was installed. “I haven’t taken the time to walk the whole cemetery to see who is and is not buried here.”
To this date, she has not found a resolution of when the cemetery trust was dissolved. “I don’t even know who the trustees were.
“I would like to win this battle. I’d like to see the stones properly cared for. I’d like to make sure that no stones are left (on this property) where utility lines are buried, and that the stones are moved to another cemetery.”
One of the stones has been propped against a fencerow and the engraving – while faint – is readable. The stone belongs to Georgia Braxton.
Labor of love
Lynne McGee Tutor – a Hannibal native – moved to Wisconsin 35 years ago, but she maintains strong ties to this region.
The land once owned by her two-times great grandfather was located in Ralls County for two years, until county borders changed. After the realignment, his acreage was situated in Monroe County.
She began researching cemetery records after her father expressed an interest in learning more about his family roots. Once she started working in Monroe County, she learned that another researcher and a distant cousin – Ken McGee - was already collecting cemetery data there. So she moved her research to Ralls County. She is collecting information and photographing stones in each identified county cemetery. At last count, she knows of 254 Ralls County cemeteries.
She posts photos of the stones on Find A Grave, and she is active in Ancestry.com. But the bulk of the information she has uncovered will be compiled into a book – which when complete - will be made available to the New London Courthouse and Ralls County Historical Society.
Lynne makes regular visits to Hannibal from her home in Poplar, Wisconsin. She devotes her vacation time to researching information about her family, so that the data can be available to other researchers. She also comes to Hannibal each November to celebrate the birthday of her uncle, Danny Griffen.