Nelson Creek Cemetery

Contributed by Dorann O'Neal Lam

Source: Kentucky Library, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY. Upright County File: Times-Argus, 30 July [year omitted]

Nelson Creek Cemetery has Graves of Prominent Early Muhlenbergers

By Agnes Harralson

My mother used to quote the old adage, “If our foresight was as clear as our hindsight we would avoid many mistakes.” It is easy to look back and see a better route we could have taken after it is gone beyond recall. Like the people who watched while a young woman was knifed to death, we often sit in silence and apparently give consent to some pretty terrible things. All because we hate to get involved in some unpleasantness.

A couple of years ago when Bobby Anderson and The Times-Argus discovered the farce that was being perpetrated at the Nelson Creek Cemetery, under the name of moving graves, Muhlenberg countians should have risen up and done something to preserve that old graveyard. After it was over and 30 or more graves had been dug into but never really moved, the heavy machinery was moved in and a road was built. One of the men who helped to build the [Western Kentucky] Parkway told me that had a few people in authority protested loud enough the road would have swerved there just as it did a number of times between there and the river, and the ancient burying ground would have been saved. Well, it is too late to do anything about it now, but we have all learned a good lesson for the next time.

An Owensboro writer, D.O. Daugherty, writing in a newspaper article, nearly 35 years ago said:

“At the Nelson Creek Baptist Church in Muhlenberg County there is an old cemetery in which are buried men and women as old as the Republic. In fact the birth date of one of these as evidenced on the large headstone, antedates the Declaration of Independence by more than eight years.”

Henry Y. Davis

“Henry Y. Davis who is buried in this ancient burying ground was born eight years before the United States of America. His tomb centers this remarkable cemetery. He was a prominent man in this section of Kentucky.

He was a member of the first grand jury impanelled in the county, in July 1799, and in 1803 when the first Circuit Court was organized, he was a member of the first petit jury. His tombstone shows that he died and was buried July 15, 18521 at the age of 84.”

Yonts Family

“Many of those buried in this old graveyard were of the Yonts family. Mrs. Catherine Yonts was born Sept. 14, 1786, Mary Anne Yonts born 1792, Phillip Yonts born 1786, and L. Yonts in 1793. Most of the graves (Daugherty continued) had handsome tombstones of white marble, well lettered and securely anchored, although not set in cement. Above each of these graves was built a stone box, somewhat similar to our modern vaults. They were made of sandstone with one, or sometimes two large stones for the top. Without benefit of cement or mortar they have stood throughout the cemetery in good shape through all these years. The object for these stone vaults was no doubt, for a protection against marauding animals.”

The founding fathers who pushed their way West when the Nation was in its infancy tried to the best of their ability to protect their loved ones from the four-legged jackals of their day… The ones we have today have fewer legs but they extract their pound of flesh just the same, sometimes before the victim dies, but the idea is the same. There will always be a callous crowd of marauders, desecrating our ancient, secret places and a stone box, as we have seen, is not adequate protection any longer. It is up to us to see that it does not occur again.

  1. Note: The contributor believes that a mistake was made in the year of death for Henry Davis. His will was recorded in Muhlenberg County (Will Book 1 pages 47-48) in April 1805. He named his wife as Fanny Davis. She is listed in the burials for Nelson Creek Cemetery (Marion Hammers Cemetery Book 3 page 48) as “Fanny, widow of Henry Davis - 28 March 1768 - 15 July 1852.” It would seem that Mr. Daugherty confused Henry's date of death with his wife's. However, we would assume they were of somewhat similar ages.