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History buried in Sparta Cemetery

Christian County Headliner

Click image to enlarge
Amelia Wigton/Headliner News

The Abundance Cemetery in Sparta is located on state Route 125.

History buried in Sparta cemetery

By: Amelia Wigton, associate editor This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Published:
Wednesday, September 2, 2009 12:09 AM CDT
“Gone but not forgotten.”

Those are the words inscribed on an old, run-down headstone in a cemetery in the middle of Sparta. The darkened stone is covered in moss; most of the stones are. But while everyone buried on the small tract of land has been gone for more than a century, city officials don’t want them forgotten.

The Sparta Board of Aldermen recently approved to have the land surveyed. That, the mayor said, was the first step to ensuring the cemetery remains a part of Sparta’s history.

“It has been a fixture here in town for over 100 years,” Sparta Mayor Mike Younker said. “(The city) takes care of it. What we’re trying to establish is where the property lines for the cemetery are then we’ll go from there.”

Abundance Cemetery is located on state Route 125, just off of state Route 14. According to ancestry.com, 41 people are buried there ranging from the 1840s through the 1890s. However, there are nearly 50 headstones.

The city has maintained the abandoned cemetery for as long as the current city workers can remember. But now, rumors are spreading through the small town that an adjacent landowner wants to build on the cemetery. The landowner, Danny Rains, says it’s simply not true.

“When we bought that property there was some question on the easement and there’s just people starting rumors,” Rains told the Headliner. “There’s no easements going to be changed and nothing changed as far as the cemetery goes.”

Rains said he bought the property, on the corner of state Routes 125 and 14, about three years ago as an investment. And while he would like to build on the back side of his property, it would not be at the expense of the cemetery. He said he has no plans—ever—to do anything that would hurt the graves or headstones.

“The question came up if some markers had been changed, moved, vandalized,” Rains said. “Who knows if they’ve been moved in the last 100 years, but nothing’s been touched since I’ve owned the property. Yes, I bought that for an investment—to make money, not to look at. But I think we can reach an agreement to where it won’t affect the cemetery.”

That’s important to lifelong Sparta resident Sharon Maggard. She has  a close family tie to this cemetery—David “Bullcreek” Walker and his son, William. The father and son were two of the Bald Knobbers hanged on the Ozark square on May 10, 1889. Maggard said the Walkers are buried in one grave.

“That was my great-grandpa and great-uncle,” she said. “My dad was very touchy about (talking about it). He was born in 1903 and that was pretty fresh in people’s minds back then. But it’s history. It’s family and it’s also history.”

“It was a bad deal,” Maggard said about the history of the Bald Knobbers. “But my (great)-grandpa was one of the best thought of people in this country until that happened. He was hung for something that he wasn’t even there for when it happened. I know that for a fact because I read the transcript of the trial.”

Local Ozarks historian Paul Johns said the small Sparta cemetery contains more history than the Bald Knobbers. Aside from Bullcreek Dave, there are many other Civil War veterans’ graves marked with old, aging stones.

“It is, like all cemeteries, a depository for family history,” he said. “Some important information is inscribed on those tombstones, including birth dates, dates of death, names of wives or husbands, sometimes who their parents were, etc. It is important to future generations that this info is not lost and that we continue to respect our ancestors.”



Copyright © 2009 - Christian County Headliner

 

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