Continuing her search for the lost Beal Cemetery, Hartsville resident Carla Jean Ferraro has made significant progress in her quest over the past few weeks as she has received help from Smith County resident and grave finder John Waggoner, Jr.

After purchasing the property in 2006, Ferraro found out that the old Beal Cemetery was located within the confines of the property but was bulldozed by a previous owner.

On Feb. 7, Waggoner made a trip to the property in Trousdale County, which is located close to the Smith County and Macon County lines, to offer his assistance in locating the graves through the use of dowsing rods (a practice that uses two wire rods that cross when a disturbance in the ground is detected), a technique that he has successfully used for more than two decades.

“I’ve been helping to find graves for probably 20-25 years,” said Waggoner. “A few years ago, Smith County relocated a cemetery from where they built the new jail in Carthage. (Along with) two funeral homes, we used dowsing rods to find the graves. We had a permit to move the cemetery, so we could legally dig down and see what was there. Every time we’d get a reading, we’d dig down, and there was a grave. We moved 71 graves.”

With Waggoner’s expertise, Ferraro was able to locate and mark roughly 21 of approximately 26 graves on the property.

“Mr. Waggoner found 14 graves by some trees and seven behind the barn,” said Ferraro. “So, there was a total of 21 graves that he found.”

Waggoner added, “We found seven graves on one site, plus another 15 or so. Altogether, we found several grave sites there.”

But because the graves were originally marked with fieldstones and never marked with engraved markers, it is likely that the individual identities of those buried in the graves will never be discovered.

“Mr. (Tommy) Scruggs, (a neighbor) who is 92 years old, remembers that his mom and his aunt are buried there,” said Ferraro. “In which one of the graves, I don’t know. It would be a guess. There are no markers to let you know. He knows his mother was probably buried at the end of the barn, so that might be the first, second, or third grave, but I really don’t know.”

According to Waggoner, Ferraro’s story is not that uncommon.

“It is not unusual to have lost cemeteries,” said Waggoner. “They always say that the third generation will forget the family cemetery, because they never knew the people who were buried there.”

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