THAYER COUNTY GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY PLANNING TO ERECT HISTORICAL MARKER AT SANDY KNOB CEMETERY, ALSO CALLED MT. GILEAD
The Thayer County Genealogical Society started making plans last spring to erect a marker at an old Thayer County pioneer cemetery. This cemetery is located north of Gilead, in the North Half of the Northwest Quarter of Section 34 in Township 3 North, Range 1 West of the 6th P. M. Thayer County School District No. 4, Sandy Knob School, also called Mt. Gilead School in earlier days, is located on the sandy knob just west of the cemetery. This pioneer cemetery has not had a burial since SamueI Gaston was buried there in December, 1918. There are many members of the Gaston family buried there and the cemetery has been called the Gaston Family Cemetery. Of the thirty-one known burials there, thirteen of them are members of the Gaston Family. Of those thirteen, only three are marked by tombstones. There are about thirty unknown graves which are marked by only small pieces of limestone laid in neat rows. Samuel and his wife, Catherine early pioneers who settled in the area, lie in unmarked graves there. There is a story passed among Gaston descendents that there was a tombstone marking the graves, but that some relatives from California removed the tombstone and took it with them. Can anyone help us locate this tombstone?
The first documented burial, meaning a tombstone which gives names and dates, is that of Jasper C. Willard, Son of J. L. a L. Willard, age 22 Yrs. 5 mos., who died July 23, 1875. There may have been other earlier burials but they lie in unmarked graves, so there is no way of knowing for certain. For instance, there is a story told to one of the children who attended Sandy Knob school by Mr. Splittgraber who lived across the road from the cemetery that two boys who were killed by Indians lie buried there. If this story is true, then these burials would have taken place in the 1860s. Many of the tombstones mark the graves of young children, such as the double tombstone which marks the graves of Harvey and Benney F. Blair, sons of W. & S. L. Blair. Benney died on November 17, 1877 at the age of 1 yr, 1 mo. and 29 da. His older brother, Harvey, died two days later on November 19, 1877, age 2 yr. 17 da. and a sister, Printhial, died June 9, 1879, aged 1 yr. 3 mos. Oh, how sad the trials of the pioneer settlers!
It was in 1986 that the Thayer County Genealogical Society obtained the signatures of at least thirty-five petitioners and presented this petition to the Thayer County Commissioners, asking that this cemetery be designated a pioneer cemetery, meaning that the county had to pay for the upkeep of the cemetery. Since that time the Thayer County Genealogical Society has cleared and mowed the cemetery and received $300 per year from the county for their work. Now the society is planning to erect a marker constructed of limestone from that area of the county, with cast aluminum plates containing the names of those pioneers buried there and a short history of the area. They are enlisting the help of anyone who may have information regarding additional burials at this cemetery before the aluminum plates are cast. Can anyone tell us the names of anyone buried there in unknown graves? The known graves are: Harvey, Benney F. and Printhial Blair; Anna May Booth; Arthur J. Elson; Nancy M. Ferguson and her infant child; Eddie Ferguson; L. F. F.; Samuel and Catherine Gaston; Lilly Bell Gaston; Addie Bell Gaston; Henry C. Gaston, two infant sons of Nelson and Clara Gaston; Willy Gaston; Frankie Hosier; Loretta J. Hoskins; Amy R. Jackson; S. U. Lacey, John Mitchell Magers; Katie Norman; E. R.; L. S.; Susan A. Strow; David W. Wallace; Lloyd E. Walker; Jasper C. Willard; Taylor Wilson; or J. G. W. If anyone knows of other additional burials, please contact Jackie Williamson, PO Box 387, Belvidere, NE 68315, Telephone #1-402-768-7313 or 768-6845; E-mail, [email protected]