When we were first looking to buy the farm back in 2011, we got the standard tour. Nice farmhouse with porch, fresh water springs, many outbuildings, chicken coop, small pond and cemetery. Wait, what? A cemetery? Oh yes, our farm came with a cemetery. I’ve been meaning to do this post for a while now, but honestly didn’t know what else to say besides… “Uh, our farm comes with dead people.” But this year I’ve been able to do some research about our cemetery to see why it’s here, how long it’s been here and most importantly, who is here. So light your lantern, que the wolves howling and let’s take a walk through our small cemetery and our property’s history.
The cemetery is settled beneath a huge cedar tree just outside the white fence of our front yard. This cedar tree is definitely the biggest cedar we have on our property, and quite possibly the biggest cedar I have ever seen with my eyeballs. The cemetery is bordered by a few small bushes and yucca plants. In fact, we can see the cemetery from our back porch, but it’s set back from the road so it’s easy to pass by if you don’t know it’s there. Most noticeably in the cemetery are the three or four tall headstones that are engraved by very weathered and worn. Some are easier to read than others. Some you really need to do some hardcore deciphering to figure out what they say and what the dates are. All we really knew before a few months ago was that the birth and death dates went as far back as the mid-late 1800’s.
So with a little more digging around we found some information about our mortuus farmmates. What I found out is that these were basically the original settlers of this property and valley. How. Cool. Is. That. Here’s the basic timeline:
In 1836 William Skewes and his wife, Eliza, bought 40 acres of the property. If you remember from your history classes, Missouri became a state in 1821 so this was one of the first developed properties in the state.
Two years later, in 1838, they sold the 40 acre property to W. Terry Sr. for a whole $100.
In the years following, Mr. Terry Sr. allocated a total of 120 acres of property. Mr. Terry Sr. died in 1864. His heirs were listed as William, Thomas, George, Mary Haverstick, Cynthia A., Elizabeth and Francis Terry. In 1868, Mr. Terry’s widow, Catherine Terry, sold the property’s title and interest that she inherited as Mr. Terry’s widow to George Terry, a son or grandson?
In 1915, George Terry executed a deed of trust to J. G. Haverstick for the remaining 94 acres, “…excepting from this conveyance 1/4 acre in the SW1/4 of the NW1/4 which is used as a family burying ground…” George Terry was said to be a farmer, or perhaps a miner that worked for the nearby Valles Mines.
And that is what to became known as the Terry Family Buying Ground
The cemetery is a very intimate plot with only a few headstones that are clearly marked and somewhat legible. There are other small field stone markers that are probably children or infants since there’s a small distance between the head and foot markers. All in all, there’s about 15-18 graves in the family plot. We can’t be for certain, but it’s thought that the original heads of the family, W. Terry and Catherine Terry are also buried here but are marked with yucca plants instead of headstones. Back in the day, there wasn’t a lot of money for headstones or formal grave markers. Instead, families would plant yucca plants at burial sites. Which is really cool if you think about it, these yucca plants have been growing here since the late 1860’s!
These are the graves that we do know are here:
George Terry: Born 1837 Died 1921 “At rest” (Son of William Terry)
Sarah Terry: “Wife of George Terry” Born September 3 1844 Died June 26 1903 “At Rest”
George W: “Son of George and S. M. Terry” Born November 8 1879 Died October 6 1881 “Sleep on sweet babe, take thy rest. God called thee home, he thought it best.”
Cynthia Ann Haverstick (nee Terry): 1845-1927
Henry Haverstick: 1844-1888 “Gone but not forgotten”
Annie Oatman: Died 1901
Mary Terry: Died 1916
So this is what we know about our little cemetery and some history of our property. I found my research from this amazing site, written by Dave Hallemann There are many more “ghost stories” involved with our little part of our valley which we will save for another Halloween. But every day we have the Terry family to thank for our farm and our future. And we honor our future by respecting their past and trying to do right by them and the farmers that came after them and before us. What did they farm? Did they have pigs and goats like us? Where was their house? How did this property get from that point to where it is now? It’s amazing to think that we have pieces of history that connect our little farm to the original settlers of the property, way back in the 1830’s. How beautiful is that?
So when you come out to the farm, make sure you bring your boots, a flannel shirt and a crystal ball. Or at least some flowers for the Terry family.