An artist and writer finds memories
and forgotten history after rediscovering a
forgotten family cemetery
An article from the
Springfield Missouri News-Leader
August 11, 1996
Life and Times Section
By Angel Streeter
Hundreds of them dot the Lawrence County Landscape, hidden in overgrown
and long forgotten places. Rigid stones with faded letters silently announce the births
and deaths of those who've been gone for decades. They lie in small family plots
that haven't been visited for years.
On a ranch about five miles south of Everton and eight miles east of Miller, on a high grassy
knoll, sits a family plot that has endured for more than 120 years. It was for many
years forgotten. Forgotten until Gary Adamson, an artist, freelance writer and
descendant of one of the earliest settlers of Lawrence County, decided to do
something about the old family burial ground.
"I didn't pay a lot of attention to it until after (my father) died," Adamson says. "I
knew the cemetery was here. It was sort of a thing where I couldn't avoid doing
anything about it. Last year at this time, the old Adamson Cemetery was in a shambles
with a half-century old wire fence in dire need of repair, toppled headstones and
weeds reaching several feet into the air.
"I spent last year trying to clear that out," Adamson says. "It was in such a pitiful
state." To look at it now, one would never know it. After getting rid of the weeds,
Adamson found a wealth of memories and history.
In the shade of two big oak trees stand most of the 37 headstones, markers and stone
slabs on the one acre of land. The most prodominant is that of Edward J. Adamson
and his wife Ellender. Edward Adamson was one of the first settlers of Lawrence
County. He built a log cabin on Turnback Creek in 1845. The Lawrence County
Historical Society moved the cabin - still standing after 150 years -- to Mount
Vernon and had it restored in time for the county's sesquicentennial.
"Old Ed had a whole bunch of kids, " Gary Adamson says. "On Turnback Creek, he
owned 850 acres." Steve Adamson, Gary's first cousin who now lives in California,
says Grandpap -- as he was called back then -- got the land as the result of his
service in the Mexican War.
Also buried there is John E. Adamson, Steve and Gary Adamson's grandfather and
a former county clerk. He was the one who made sure the family cemetery would
survive. On May 10, 1901, a month after Ed Adamson's death, John Adamson
bought the cemetery from L. W. Gum for $14. For years it was known as the Gum
Cemetery, with Gums and Adamson alike burying their dead here in the peaceful
countryside. Breeden, Overall, Wadkins and Dienst are names on other headstones.
Gary believes many married into the family. Over the years, the old cemetery
has stood in stages of repair and disrepair, dependent on family members to pull
weeds, plant flowers and mow grass.
In 1971, Fred Mieswinkel, deputy recorder of Lawrence County and treasure of the
Lawrence County Historical Society, surveyed the cemetery as part of an overall
survey of old cemeteries in Lawrence County. "I'm glad to see the family
taking interest." says Mieswinkel, who's surveyed 90 percent of the county burial
sites. "Some (cemeteries) are out in the fields and have been neglected for years
Before Gary Adamson took over as caretaker, his father, V. T. Adamson, was in
charge of making sure the old family cemetery was respectfully maintained as a
final resting place. But he fell ill and died after a prolonged battle with Alzheimer's
disease. After his father's death, Gary Adamson came home to the old family
family land and then the cemetery. "I would come down from St. Louis a couple of
weeks a month and during that time I would come here a couple of days," he says.
"It would certainly be against anything I believe in not to do anything with it."
"History, conservation, preservation, the environment -- all of them came together
to force me and my wife to do something."
Old, dead trees were cut down. A new chain link replaced the old wire fence. On a
regular basis the grass it cut. But Gary Adamson isn't finished. He formed a
not-for-profit corporation for the cemetery so that tax-deductible donations can be
made for the upkeep. Board members are family members, such as Steve Adamson,
who serve on the board of directors.
"Anything that has to do with the family always interests me, including the family
history" says Steve Adamson, who traced the family back to 1716. Both Steve and
Gary Adamson have been to burials at the cemetery. Gary Adamson wants to turn
it into an active cemetery again. He plans to get all the tombstones repaired, clear
out the rest of the weeds around the fence and plant some flowers. "It's such a nice
view," he says. "I can understand why they would put it here. There's been a
certain serenity to it because of the setting. I would come up here to work and at
night a little mst would settle over it."
END of ARTICLE
LISTING OF BURIALS AT THIS CEMETERY:
The Gum Cemetery is about four miles west-northwest of Lawrenceburg
Section 1, Township 26, Range 26, about 1/8 mile north of Highway DD
on a knoll. The oldest marked burial is 1867.
This survey was made 15 March 1971, by Fred G. Miesewinkel.
Adamson - Blanch., Jan. 11, 1910 - Mar. 28, 1966
Robert T., July 12, 1908 -
Adamson - Luther W. Adamson, son of J. E. and Margaret, June 9, 1892 -
Sept. 18, 1979
Adamson - Margaret, 1867 - 1953 "Granny"
John E., 1867-1952, "Dody"
Adamson - Fredie W., son of Sturlen W. and Sarah A. Adamson, Feb. 21, 1885 -
Oct. 6, 1898
Adamson - Sarah A. Adamson, Mar. 10, 1860 - May 21, 1930
Adamson - Sturlen W. Adamson, May 4, 1850 - Mar. 15, 1935
Breeden - Elishia G., Sept. 27, 1866 - Feb. 12, 1936
Elender A., May 27, 1871 - Jan. 15, 1947
Overall - Leonard H., son of J. H. & T.N. Overall, Apr. 19, 1921 - May 10, 1921
Overall - Loretta F., dau. of H.H. &T.N. Overall, Feb. 14, 1919 - May 10, 1919
Overall - J. C., son of Mr. & Mrs. J.H. Overall, Sept. 5, - Oct. 9, 1928
? - 1 rock marker; two sandstone markers; no inscriptions
Breeden - Infant son of E.G. & E.A. Breeden, b. & d. Sept. 10, 1910
Breeden - Bessie M., dau. of E.G. & E.A. Breeden, Feb. 23, 1893 - Apr. 13, 1894
Adamson - Infant dau. of J.E. & M. Adamson, May 7, 1900 - Nov. 15, 1900
Adamson - Infant dau. of J.E. & M. Adamson, Dec 24?, 1889 - Dec. 28, 1889
Adamson - Infant dau. of J.E. & M. Adamson, Born and Died Oct. 3, 1888
Dienst - Lewis T., son of H.P. & F.E. Dienst, Oct. 26, 1891 - Dec. 26, 1891
Dienst - Lewis A., son of H.P. & F.E. Dienst, Feb. 28, 1890- ........1891
Garrison - W.H. Garrison, son of C.R. & M.J. Garrison, Nov. 19, 1871-
Sept. 26, 1877, Ag 5y 9m & 7d
Adamson - Edward J. Adamson, June 8, 1824 - Apr. 18, 1901
Elender Adamson, May 6, 1830 - Mar. 11, 1885
Gum - William S. Gum, Nov. 2, 1875 - July 5, 1907 "Budded on earth
to bloom in Heaven"
Gum - Cordelia E., wife of L.W. Gum, Jan. 5, 1839 - Nov. 19, 1892. "Our
mother dear from / us in gone / Her voice we loved / is stilled / Her
place is vacent / in our home/ and never can be / filled" "We
shall sleep but not forever"
Gum - Lewis W. Gum, Jan. 17, 1833 - Mar. 14, 1916. "we may sleep but
not forever / in the lone and silent grave"
Gum - Tecumsia Sherman Gum, Mar. 1867 - Oct. 10, 1920 "I am the
reserection and the life"
Adamson - Infant son of E. J. Adamson died March 1863
Oliver Adamson, June 1869 - Aug. 1870
Chas. W. Adamson, Oct. 1858 - Mar. 1875
? - Sandstone slab; limestone marker; no inscriptions
? - Sandstone : T.J.A. (or J.J.A.) Wil...? or Mil...?
Call - Catharine M., dau. of W.L. & M.J. Call, Feb. 20, 1871 - Mar. 21, 1874
Moon - Effie Cameron Moon, Feb. 4, 1877 - Mar. 25, 1938
Yancy - C.R.L. Yancy, Feb. 2, 1847 - Sept. 13, 1906 "In My Fathers House are
Many Mansions" "Our Father at rest"
END Of LISTING