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  • Writer's pictureLawrence Lore

Wright Gaddy Cemetery by Marilyn Wagner

Wright/Gaddy cemetery is in the far southwest corner of Lawrence County, just off County Road 000 and Berryville Road.  When the corn is high, you would never know a cemetery existed.  Prior to the Lukin Township Board and the Jackmans cleaning the brush, you probably wouldn’t have seen it even without the corn!  There are woods on three sides.  It is such a quiet, quaint place.  The cemetery was deeded by the Wright family in 1886 but the first burial there was in 1848, an infant of Nancy Wooden Wright and James Benjamin Wright.


Many of the people buried in this cemetery came from Wilson County, Tennessee or their families came from Wilson County.  The people came to Bonpas Township in Richland County, Lancaster in Wabash County, or Lukin Township.  They came to the area for the land and for the game.  Most of the people are related in some way or connected through marriage.  There are many interesting stories in this cemetery. Levi Gaddy was only 49 years old when he died from epilepsy.  He died in a state facility that specialized in epilepsy.  When Levi was 25, he married Viola Gehrette. Viola was 5 months pregnant at the time.  The marriage was very short-lived and apparently a contentious one because both told the census takers that they were widows when both were very much alive.  It makes one wonder if epilepsy had something to do with divorce since epilepsy scared many people for a very long time. Or was it a marriage of convenience for Viola to give the child a name.  Whatever the reason, there is never a mention of the child in Levi’s life after the divorce, not even in his obituary.


John and Elizabeth Montgomery had a pretty tough life. John served in the Black Hawk war.  They lost 7 grandchildren due to illness, who are also buried here.  It is sad to see these children’s gravestones lined up in row one beside their mother, Sidea.  When Elizabeth died, John couldn’t afford to pay for her casket.   A few months later, John died.  An earlier blog in Lawrence Lore mentioned a large rock with markings that may have been the first gravestone marking their burial sites.


When the Historical Society decided to begin the project of restoring cemeteries, Wright/Gaddy was a good place to start. It was small with only 45 known memorials there. However, at least four had disappeared by the time the project began.  Three of these were shown on Find-A-Grave so we knew they existed. John Fish, stone restorer, probed and found two of the stones underground. A recent Lawrence Lore told the story of Asa Brines, lost in the woods but now he has been found.  Another one, Elizabeth (Betsy) Paul Gaddy is still missing.  Her gravestone is listed in Irene Black’s cemetery book, so we know the vicinity of the stone.  Four other pioneers are said to be buried in the cemetery.   Death certificates indicate two burials and family records discuss two more burials.  They may not have a gravestone, or the stones may have sunken underground.  The cemetery has large, empty areas, so the missing gravesites could be difficult to locate.  It is sad that there is no existing plot map of the cemetery.


When the restoration project began, many of the stones were black and couldn’t be read.   Others were broken and had fallen to the ground. With work by volunteers, the transformation is amazing! All the stones have been cleaned and John Fish, stone restorer, has done an amazing job of repairing and restoring the stones that were down or broken. The slide show below features just a few of the before and after stones at Wright/Gaddy.


For Christmas it would be a wonderful way to remember your ancestors by making a donation to help restore one of the Lawrence County Historical Society Project cemeteries. You may contact lawrenceore@gmail.com for more information.


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