War Heroes, Tragedies...Discovering History in Hendricks County Cemeteries
Wednesday, October 17, 2012 11:00 PM by Jennifer Donovan
When you think of Halloween Haunts you may think of cemeteries, which have long been a staple for horror films. I have never been afraid of cemeteries (though you won’t find me in one after dark) When I was a child, my grandma took me to the cemetery often to place flowers on my grandfather’s grave. So when asked to visit cemeteries in Hendricks County, I looked forward to discovering the history that cemeteries reveal about an area. Before heading out to local cemeteries, I stopped at the Plainfield-Guilford Township Library to do research. At first, I was looking for famous graves, but then I began reading about the history of Hendricks County. While reading the book A Pictorial History of Hendricks County Indiana, I learned about a tragedy in Stilesville. This is where my journey began. At the Stilesville Cemetery, just North of U.S. 40 in Stilesville, there is a marker in remembrance of the tragic death of 19 people. In 1849, a group of travelers from Ohio stopped in Stilesville on their way to California in search of gold. While in Indiana, 19 of the travelers became ill with food poisoning and died. They were then laid to rest in unmarked graves. While walking through Stilesville Cemetery, I also came across a grave for Joel Garrison, who served in the Revolutionary War. Mr. Garrison lived from 1760-1835. I was fascinated to find this grave. My next stop was the Clayton Cemetery. I discovered several graves from the 1800s. One thing that I found interesting at all the cemeteries that I visited is the difference in tombstones. Most from the 1800s are simple and almost hard to read after years of erosion. On the other hand, I found some were ornate. Another interesting cemetery I visited is one I have driven by several times. The Bethesda Cemetery off Ind. 267 in Brownsburg. I was surprised to find graves from the 1800s at one end, with new graves at the other end of this small cemetery along the side of the road. My final stop was Danville South off South Cross Street in Danville. This is a beautiful, peaceful place to walk around. I found beautiful stones from today all the way back to the early 1800s. So, this fall, visit Hendricks County to learn about history, pay tribute to those who lived before us and enjoy the peacefulness and art of cemeteries. Oh, and if you go at night, they can be a little spooky, too.