Friday, February 19, 2010

I Am Stuned!

My family has been looking for 60 years for tombstones that had been thrown in Lake Hamilton from our family cemetery; a land developer did this during the Great Depression and sold the land to rich folks from out of town so that they could build houses on the new lake... I have looked for the tombstones all of my life and today I found what I believe to be my great grandmother, Mary Etta (Mollie) Gardner Clay’s tomb... She was the only person buried in this lost cemetery that was entombed...The lake was lowered this winter and today I walked the shore and found this...


I was in the middle of writing a nice story for the February issue of The Graveyard Rabbit about a lost cemetery...I was just innocently taking photos of where in the lake that we beleived the markers to have been thrown whe a rock in the water was pointed out to me by a local resident..I was focusing on this rock and looking into the water trying to see something when I turned around to see what was scurrying up a tree when I saw this...I knew immediatly what I was looking at without having to get any closer..I was stunned still..I cried..stood still in my place and started can see in the pictures below one frame I was looking at a rock and the lake and the next was when I turned around! I have never really thought that I would ever find even a tombstone, much less this. We have always believed that it had been broken to pieces with a sledgehammer…



I just this minute realized that I am now the matriarch of my family...I have no one left to even call on the phone to tell of my find. It is Friday evening and I can’t even call the State of Arkansas because I don’t know what to do…They will raise the lake to cover this tomb starting March 4, 2010 and it will lie under the waters until next October…..What in the world should I do? Whom do I call and will anyone care? Or will I be the only one to know the secrets of the lost cemetery and who really threw the cemetery remains in the lake????????????

I will post the origional story that I was working on about this cemetery as soon as I can gather my thoughts!


First of all, I want to thank all of ya'll who have written to me this weekend..I am amazed at the love and concern that you have for me and my Great Grandmother who died four years after my mother was born and some 35 years before I was ever born.. I am fighting all of this alone except for all of ya'll..God Bless Ya'll!!!

Thank you for helping me to restore Mollie's dignity or the dignity of whom ever we find the tomb to have belonged to, in the first place..I want to somehow get thistomb moved 4 miles to my family cemetery where it can rest with her daughters, sons, grandchildren and the rest of the family! Or just plane ole have a place to be loved anyway!

Now, below you will find the email addresses of the news reporters who will be meeting me and Mary Ann Trubit who is with The State Of Arkansas this coming... I think I have finally gotten the right people hoppin! It was really harder than I thought it would be to get the media interested....except Jason Pederson he is great! Would ya'll email these reporters and let them know how you feel about this and maybe with ya'lls help we can get this tomb out of the lake and in a respectful cemetery!!! I really need to rally the GYR'S and all of the other troupes for this one!!! Sadly, people here don't value cemeteries like you and I do.. Please keep me in your prayers! On your emails please put your State or Country and affiliation GYR or Genabloggers or any other can also cc a copy to me also at or post your comments at

With Much LOVE,

Jason Pederson, (that is Pederson spelled with a D not T) he is the reporter for Seven On You Side At our ABC affiliate KATV Channel 7 , Little Rock , AR you can leave him an email at the link below..You have to go through their security screen to contact him.

Don Thompson is a reporter at our local newspaper The Sentinel Record his email address is


I called Wilbert Vault Company to see about having the tomb moved..They told me that I had to get a Funeral Director involved so, I called a funeral director friend and she told me that the County Coronor had to be involved! I then called my friend, Stuart Smedley, our County Cornorer.. Stuart told me to call everyone and tell them to stand down and not to show up until he has investigated it as a crime scene. A secret from 1934.. until a man threw the last tombstone in the lake in 1937. His neice bragged about it to me on the phone last night! This is getting way more than I ever thought of...
                    Can this get any stranger? YOU BET IT CAN and it will!!!!

I meet with the County Coronor at 10:00am in the morning to take him to where the tomb is.....

Jason Pederson at our local ABC affiliate KATV Channel 7.......ROCKS!

After meeting with our county coroner, Jason Pederson at our ABC affiliate KATV called and met with me and an 87 year old cousin of a cousin who had been to funerals at this very cemetery as a child and his very own great grandfather is also buried there!!! Jason even put it as the second story on the 5:00 pm news and it will be the lead story on the 6:00 pm newscast. I will keep every one posted on this and will try to get the video to link to this site!
JASON GETS THINGS DONE!! Listen to this ABC, just don't take him away from us!


Pete Thompson at KARK Channel 4 is a STAR Reporter!!

Pete Thompson who is a reporter for our NBC affiliate KARK Channel 4 in Little Rock did a fabulous job today in reporting on this cemetery outrage! A lady who lives in the condos, right beside the possible Tomb and overlooking the bay where most of the tombstones lay at the bottom of the lake came out and told us about how they had seen it for years and never knew what it was. She said that now she can see that it looks exactly like a tomb! Then a man, who I won’t call a gentleman, came up to us at the cemetery and questioned if it really was a cemetery and why I would tell anyone if it really was! He was highly insulted so I told him to voice his concerns to the reporter and he stormed off! He said that if it really was it might hurt his property values...Heck, it would increase mine...I would be thrilled! I am surprised that our local newspaper hasn’t followed up with me...They never came out to report on this…Maybe someone who kept their yard mowed got some kind of yard of the month award and needed their picture taken.

Pete Thompson from KARK really cares about his stories! Thanks, Pete!


  1. WOW Ruth !! That's incredible that you found it!!!!!! I wish I could help you on what to do. I'd be burning up the gov't phonelines!! It's very sad that someone would do that to a grave too. :(

  2. You could try calling a funeral home and see what they say. They usually have someone on call 24 hours a day at some of them. Otherwise you may have to wait until Tuesday (if offices are closed for Washington's birthday). Let us know what you find out! If it truly is your great grandmothers tomb, I am sorry you had to find it the way you did.

  3. Ruth, this is so shocking. I'm not sure what to do, but I did put out a call for help on my blogs; there must be someone out there in the Geneablogging and Graveyard Rabbit communities who knows about cases like this. Wishing you luck in having this matter properly resolved.

  4. Ruth,
    Call the newspapers and TV stations immediately! Call the Congressmen and senators that represent the area. Call the State board of Cemetery and funeral directors. Some one will listen if you squeak loud enough. I will publicize this on my end as well. Don't worry we will get this fixed!

  5. Sent from Greta's blog....

    It would probably make a huge huge difference if there are still any human remains inside the tomb.

    Take lots of pictures and make sure some have land features so that even when the lake is high the tomb can be found again.

    I agree with calling the local television, it is a crime... you should also make a report with the local sheriff...

  6. I am in agreement with eloh and Sheri, the media is your best friend while you and the authorities (whoever they may be) figure out what to do. Good luck!

    Such an amazing "find' left me speechless and full of wonderment at how things aligned for you to find the tomb. As the "now matriarch" you will do what you need to do. Blessings.

  7. You have already received great advice. I just want to chime in my agreement with it and let you know I'm praying you get a satisfactory resolution.

  8. It looks like there are grave markers inside the vault; someone needs to check around this whole area and see if there are human bones to recover. Seems that the local health department would know what to do.

  9. I don't know what to tell you, Ruth, but I wanted you to know I was here and am feeling your shock. I'm still out of words. Blessings to you.

  10. How horrible! I hope that the local media will be able to help you with this. Please keep us posted.

  11. This is amazing. I agree with everybody - try calling all of the places suggested and see if anybody can do anything! Media can certainly call attention to this issue. Please keep us posted on what happens.

  12. Media Ruth. We could all write your reps. just to let them know that America is watching. Raise Cain!

  13. I would be as vocal as I could possibly be about this. I didn't see this mentioned, but you might want to contact your local historical or genealogy society...someone there may take up your cause and help you get it publicized. My gg grandmother is also supposedly buried near this lake--- Mt Carmel cemetery, but we have never found her grave.

  14. The Department of Arkansas Heritage has responsibility for the state's cultural resources. Its Arkansas Historic Preservation Program has responsibility for identification, evaluation, registration and preservation of the state's cultural resources and it the first call you should make tomorrow morning during normal business hours. (501)324-9880 or info@arkansas I have not found the specific state statute that governs that gives this agency its mandate, nor which may apply to abandoned cemeteries, but they would know.

  15. Godspeed, Ruth, as you do this battle.

  16. Ruth, I cannot imagine how you must have felt. This is an incredible, yet disturbing discovery. I, too, will pray for an honorable and acceptable resolution for your Great Grandmother's remains. Good Luck, and keep us all posted.

  17. wow! *hugs* agreed, call the media who can help you get in touch with right authorities. blessings to you and your grandmother.

  18. I hope you called the media, all those suggestions above were excellent. Also, the board of health (local, county, and state). I love the suggestion of calling the funeral home! A funeral director will know exactly who should be notified. Please keep us all posted! I grew up near a reservoir in Massachusetts, where great expense was paid to move then entire town before it was covered by water- and they didn't forget the dearly departed. They moved all the graves, including the bodies not just the headstones. I thought it was standard practice everywhere!

  19. Thank you for doing what you do. Hang in there. It will all work out.

  20. This is a great story. I'm glad to see that your hard work has finally began to pay off. I would like to feature this article on my blog. Or basically point people here to read your story is what I mean. I'd like to thank Teri O'Connell for bringing this to my attention. I own both the Cemetery Explorers Facebook page as well as the Cemetery Explorers blog located at

    Thanks for the story and I hope to be updated as I will be following this story.

  21. Oh, wow. I cannot put together words to describe how reading this made me feel. I hope the outcome is as best it can be.

  22. Good luck! Standing by to hear how everything goes. Jo

  23. A incredible story Ruth!Thank you for sharing it with us all!Keep up the hard work and I so hope you get to move her to be with her people.

  24. I've been out of the loop for a few weeks [computer down] but WOW! What a fantastic job you've done! I can't believe someone would be so callous as to worry about this possibly lowering his property value!
    You rock girl! Keep up the great work!

  25. Hi Ruth,
    I read the story on the Ch. 7 site about the archaeologist thinking it's a newer non-tomb. However, doesn't the fact that it's now known that tombstones and markers were thrown into the lake count for anything? Can a local historical or gen. society help recover anything out of the lake (I'm guessing too expensive) or help document that there was indeed a cemetery there that should be preserved or rescued or at the very least documented or even, say, a marker placed or something to respect the memories of those whose resting places were desecrated?
    Post again & let us know what's going on--