Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

Local News

December 8, 2010

The forgotten Civil War cemetery

12-8-10 —     Just over a hill on U.S. 60 near the Globe Funeral Home on the outskirts of Olive Hill, covered by trees and tucked into history, lies the remnants of a family graveyard that is the final resting place of James P. Garvin, who was born in 1816 and died in 1864.

    Garvin was a second lieutenant in the Army who died of a lung disease contracted while on active duty during the war.

    The cemetery is a very different place today than it was in the 1930's when 95-year-old Hazel Garvin first visited it with her husband, Tom, the great-grandson of James P. Garvin.

    Ms. Garvin did not go back to the graveyard for many years and she returned in 2006 to see the hand hewn stones all missing, and many of the graves unrecognizable.

    Vandals have stolen what once marked the burial places of men who were a part of Carter County history. When John Hunt Morgan, a Union cavalry officer, came through the city of Olive Hill at the end of the Civil War he destroyed many homes and businesses. Morgan pillaged the city and John P. Garvin, who owned a large amount of property, was made an example of. Morgan burned down Garvin's house, leaving his wife and 10 children without shelter.

    Ms. Garvin said there was never a road that went into the cemetery but now four-wheelers have pressed down a permanent path over the graves.

    “There are Civil War heroes buried in those graves, husbands, brothers, great-grandfathers,” she said.

    Ms. Garvin does not want the history to be forgotten like the cemetery has been. She has contacted the Olive Hill Police, which have informed her that it is out of their jurisdiction. She has also informed County Judge Executive Charles Wallace who is looking into the matter.

    “I just think it is so awful that people would steal from the dead,” she added.

    Ms. Garvin believes people are stripping the crypts to sell the stones as antiques. Her husband’s great-grandfather’s crypt is the only one still standing, and stones have been and are being removed from it also.

    She said litter that is tossed out of windows by those driving on U.S. 60 is scattered all over the cemetery and thorns and brush are overgrown on many of the places where people are buried.

    She said she just wants the secluded area to be respected as an important historical relic for Olive Hill and Carter County.

    She wants to see a gated fence put around it, the brush and litter cleaned up, and all the graves located and properly marked. She bought John P. Garvin a headstone so she could always know where he was buried.

    “I just want to see this place preserved and protected as it should be,” Ms. Garvin said.

    She said as long as she is alive and able, she will work to ensure the cemetery does not stay forgotten.

    Shayla Menville can be reached at smenville@journal-times.com or by phone at 286-4201.

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