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  • Writer's pictureLawrence Lore

Rest in Peace"

Old newspaper articles are often filled with information that capture our attention. This particular article captured Larry Curry’s attention:

Rural Republican May 20, 1881 p 5 from the Paris Beacon: “On going home to supper Wednesday evening, Samuel Casey, a black barber found his wife lying upon her face in bed, dead and cold. He raised an alarm and Coroner Garner hastened to the house on East Court Street, beyond Col. Mayo’s, impaneled a jury, and held an inquest, with the assistance of Dr. H L Obetz on the body of the deceased. The jury upon learning the evidence returned a verdict that she came to her death by her own hand. Deceased was the daughter of James Pettiford, had two children, one and three years respectively and she herself was about 25 years old. The body of the deceased was taken to her old home near Lawrenceville Thursday morning for interment.”

This article is loaded with information even though the story is quite disheartening. Samuel Casey who grew up in Lawrence County, was the son of Soloman and Nancy Casey. The Caseys were free African American settlers in Lawrence County before the Civil War. Larry’s great grandmother, Emily Casey Morris, was a sister to Samuel. Not much was known about Samuel Casey so this article answered a lot of questions for the genealogists in the family.

However, a mystery remains. Where was this young woman buried? The article says she is buried near Lawrenceville. Could she be buried on the old Pettiford Farm? The old Pettiford Farm was a 40-acre farm owned by James and Mary Pettiford, located on the Allison Prairie in Lawrence County. The Pettiford’s were also free African Americans who settled in Lawrence County before the Civil War.

After a little exploration there by Larry, three tombstones were eventually found. The Irene Black cemetery book states that Rosa, wife of T H Pettiford, who died in 1872, and Josephine Pettiford, aged 2 ½ years, who died in 1878, are buried there. All three stones need to be cleaned before they can even be read and reset. If you would like more information about restoring this little family cemetery, or are able to volunteer or donate money for same, contact Larry Curry. ( )

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