Thursday at the Cemetery~Machpelah Cemetery pt. 1~Lexington, Lafayette Co, MO

Machpelah Cemetery photoMachpelah Cemetery was originally known as the Waddell Family Cemetery. The first burial there was in 1839. In 1849, William Bradford Waddell donated his family’s cemetery, along with other nearby lands, to form Machpelah.

During the Civil War, many soldiers from both sides of the Battle of Lexington were buried at Machpelah. There is also a special memorial to the victims of the Saluda steamboat explosion of April 9, 1952. The Saluda carried Mormon immigrants from England and Wales who were traveling to Utah. Some of the bodies from that disaster are buried in a mass grave at the cemetery.

Machpelah Cemetery map

Among the prominent citizens buried at Machpelah are Stephen Wentworth (founder of Wentworth Military Academy), Ike Skelton (representative to U.S. Congress and chairman of the Armed Services Committee), William Waddell (one of the founders and operators of the Pony Express), and Gilead Rupe (the first settler of the area).

Cemetery records date only to 1885 with no record of earlier burials. Many headstones of the earlier burials can still be found. Records from the years of 1920 thru 1940 were destroyed by a fire.

Just inside the south entrance is a kiosk with a database of burial locations.


Amongst those mentioned above are several of my beloved family. Too many to feature in just one blog. So, over the next few weeks, I will post 4 or 5 headstones with a short bio of each person.


DadBenjamin Douglas Hughes was born on August 15, 1915, in Hughesville, Pettis Co, MO. He died on June 24, 1974, in Hollywood, Los Angeles Co, CA. He is my Dad. He was the 8th child and the 4th son born to Charles Hughes and Virginia Hayes. He was married 3 times, the 3rd time to my mother, and he had 3 children. The 1st one by his 1st was a son who died when he was 2 months old. The other two were my sister and I. Starting at age 15 he had a variety of jobs. He worked on the family farm, trained horses, worked in the coal mine, was a butcher, worked for the railroad, participated in the CCC in 1935 and was a carpenter and bricklayer. He died from lung cancer at the age of 58.



Ellie Hughes Willard Hankins was born on February 5, 1905, in Pettis Co, MO and died February 25,Aunt Ellie 1973, in Kansas City, Jackson Co, MO. She had a twin sister named Nellie. Ellie and her sister were both born with a hair lip which was eventually corrected when they were 10 years old. Her first marriage was to Mitchell Lee Willard when she was 17 years old and Mitchell was 24. They had 7 children, 3 daughters, and 4 sons. Mitchell died in January 1950 leaving Ellie a widow with 5 children under the age of 18. In November the same year, she married Chester Hankins. She died of heart failure at the age of 63.



Mitchel WillardMitchell Lee Willard, the husband of Ellie Hughes, was born March 25, 1898, in Kirksville, Adair Co, Mo and died January 30, 1950, in Lexington, Lafayette Co, MO. He worked as a Government River Worker and he was a farmer. He died of a cerebral hemorrhage.



John Henry McGowan, my mothers’ Grandfather, was born on May 10, 1863, in Henrietta, Ray Co, MOJohn Henry McGowan 2xGGrandpa and died April 26, 1957, in Lexington, Lafayette Co, MO. He married Asenath “Dollie” Walt on May 30, 1887. They had 8 children, 6 daughters, 1 son, and one child who died at birth. He worked in the coal mines around Lexington his entire life. His wife “Dollie” died on February 19, 1931. He lived alone in a home he owned until he was 85 years old. He lived the last 8 years of his life in the Goodloe Rest Home located in Lexington, MO. He died at the age of 93 of skin cancer with metastasis. He had cancer for 5 years. He also had Heart Disease.



I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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