Machpelah 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 Battles of Lexington were buried at Machpelah. There is also a special memorial to the victims of the Saluda steamboat explosion of April 9, 1852. 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.
Among the prominent citizens buried here are Stephen Wentworth (founder of Wentworth Military Academy), Ike Skelton (US Congressman), 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.
Among those mentioned above are several of my beloved family members. Too many to feature in just one blog so, over the next few weeks, I will post between 3 and 6 headstones with a short bio of each person.
John Henry McGowan was born on May 10, 1863 in Henrietta, Ray Co, MO. He is my maternal Great Grandfather. He was raised on the family farm, helping with the chores and with the planting. He had 4 brothers and 3 sisters, In 1885 he moved to Lafayette Co and met Asenath Walt. They were married on May 30, 1887, and they had 5 daughters and 2 sons, one who died at birth. John worked his entire adult life in the coal mines located around Lexington. He died on April 26, 1957. He had lived the last 8 years of his life in the Goodloe Rest Home located in Lexington. He died at the age of 93 of skin cancer with metastasis. He had the cancer for 5 years. He outlived his wife by 26 years.
Asenath “Dolly” Walt was born on February 27, 1863, in Camden, Ray Co, MO. She is my maternal Great Grandmother. Her father worked as a carpenter and a wheelwright so she was raised in town. She was the oldest of 10 children, she had 6 sisters and 2 brothers. She married John Henry McGowan on May 30, 1887, and they had 5 daughters and 2 sons, one who died at birth. She died on February 19, 1930 at the age of 67. The cause of death was labored pneumonia.
James D. McGowan was born in 1837 in Madison Co, Tennessee. He is my maternal 2x Great Grandfather. His father came to America from Ireland and he was a proficient farmer. James had 8 siblings, 4 sisters, and 4 brothers. He was the middle child. In 1854 his family moved to Camden, Ray Co, MO. He married Lucy Reavis (1836-1878) and they moved to Lexington, Lafayette Co, MO, buying a farm. They had 8 children, 5 sons and 4 daughters. When the Civil War broke out James joined the Tennessee Infantry CSA and reached the rank of Captain. His beloved wife died in 1878 just one year after their last child was born. James died on December 3, 1901, at the age of 64.
I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: 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.