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This article, written by Todd Preston, the president of the Magoffin County Historical Society, was taken from the April 27, 2006 issue of THE SALYERSVILLE INDEPENDENT newspaper.

 The Salyersville Independent is a weekly newspaper published and edited every Thursday. For inquires or comments, please write to , P. O. Box 29, Salyersville, KY 41465. Yearly subscription rates are $22.00 in Kentucky and $26.00 per year out of state.

J. W. Back and I made a Friday afternoon journey into the Pricey-Rockhouse area.   We picked up Mr. Hall to guide us.   Our purpose was to explore the cemeteries that we had been told were possible burial sites for Jesse Gullett born in 1814 NC and died in 1905 in Magoffin Co. KY. He was the son of William and Tempy Hopper Gullett and was married to Elizabeth Coffee. His children were William Wiley Gullett, Telitha Gullett, Tempy Gullett Brown, James F. Gullett, Margaret Gullett, John M. Gullett, Elias Gullett, Nancy Jane Gullett Patrick, Thomas J. Gullett, son Gullett b. 1860, and Martha Gullett b. 1863.  

Our first stop was the Joe Reed Cemetery where Mr. Hall and others have said Jesse was buried.   In fact, Mr. Hall pointed out the exact grave another person showed me a year ago.   We then traveled up “Big” Pricey and crossed over to the McGuire Cemetery . This is a large well-kept cemetery.   Afterwards we traveled down stream and went up Pricy to the Paul Brown or Pricey Cemetery .   This last site is where some people claim is the burial site of Jesse Gullett, the grave site is said to be underneath a shelter built on the grounds.

There are 8 or more unidentified graves and I have been told when they set a post for the right back side of the shelter house, they apparently went down into an old grave for the post hole digger suddenly went down about 3 feet. I have been told this by two men and there is an old field stone right near the path.

My reason for bringing this to light is that family members, including chairpersons Gay Gullett Wilson and Ruie Nickel, need to make a decision as to where to set the marker.   J. W. Back is going to check to try to find where Jesse lived at the time of his death.

We then went back to Rockhouse, copying some cemeteries.   After traveling up Williams Creek , we came back down the mouth.   Mr. Hall showed me where an old abandoned cemetery was located. I had gone there in 1978. There are 50 or more graves. The coordinates are N-37-52.521, W-83-06.401, elevation 988, so it is not too high on the hill.   I found Hessy J. Wheeler 1884-1894, Rhoda Adkins 1890-1905, Mary Adkins 1868-1894, Farish A. Montgomery 1875-1898 on a five-foot handmade stone lying on the ground.   We also found markers for Celia Williams 1852-1906 and Mason Kennard Co. K, 14 th KY Inf.   Mason was born in 1836, son of David Kennard (b. 1807) and Nancy Coffee. Mason married first in 1857 to Lena - ?- and m. 2 nd in 1874 to Nancy Jane Coffee b. 1835.   This is an old cemetery and should be cleaned up.   I challenge anyone that will help clean and clear this old cemetery to let me know and we will have a “working”.   Yes, I will help for there are over 50 reasons but the main one in my mind would be for Mason Kennard, a Union soldier.   His children by his first marriage were Nancy b. 1858 m. in 1875 to John E. Sexton and Robert b. 1859.   He and his 2 nd wife had these children: Margaret b. 1875, John D. b. 1877, Martha b. 1878 m. in 1894 to James Elam and Sabrina “Susan” b. 1879 m. in 1894 to George W. Elam.

On Sunday morning, I went to the Williams Cemetery on the left fork of Abbott with Bobby Davis of Indiana . We met with Russell Howell and wife from West Virginia and cleaned up that cemetery. I actually sawed down enough trees and bushes to make a temporary fence out of brush to keep the cattle out.   After getting that done, we parted with the Howells and went up Abbott, stopping to copy a couple of cemeteries, one being a Woods Cemetery and the other a Whitaker Cemetery .

We next went up to Rhoda Prater's and visited for awhile then crossed the hill down the State Road Fork and back to town where we got something to eat then we went up to Puncheon Creek and over on Rough and Tough and from there back to town via the Mountain Parkway.

I got ahead of myself!   The big news is that Bobby Davis, his friend Cheryl McKinley, Stacey Blanton and I set out at about 11 o'clock on Saturday and traveled to Castlewood , VA.   We went on Rt. 23 to Wise, VA and on to the dedication of the Mark Whitaker Memorial.   People had started gathering by the time we got there so we got acquainted with all the new people and reacquainted with the people we met during 2004 Whitaker Founder's Days.

The service at the dedication was held at the Temple Hill Memorial Park on Memorial Drive in Castlewood , VA at 2 p.m.   The marker is near the entrance.   The program consisted of a welcome by Sue Barrett   Slack one of the directors of the Russell Co. VA Historical Society.   Rev. Harry Layell, pastor of the Fort Gibson United Methodist Church gave the invocation.   The hymn, Amazing Grace, was presented by Whitaker musicians, Leanda Whittaker Hanley and Bobby Davis.   S. A. Fraley, Jr., another director of the Russell Co. VA Historical Society gave introductions then Bob Whittaker of SC gave an inspiring talk on the life of his 3 rd great-grandfather Mark Whitaker.   Dorothy Gilbert Lefler, vice president of the Russell Co. VA Historical Society dedicated the memorial and James A. Lefler gave a prayer of dedication.

We then traveled to the Fort Gibson United Methodist Church on Red Oak Ridge Road for the dedication of the bronze plaque at the entrance of the fellowship hall.   The Rev. Harry Layell spoke on the role of the Circuit Rider ministry, we were treated again to music by Leanda Whittaker Hanley and Bobby Davis, then the historian of the Fort Gibson United Methodist Church , Dennis Hensdill dedicated the plaque.   Rev. Harry Layell gave the benediction.

We gathered in the church for finger food and fellowship.   All visitors received a gift from the Fort Gibson Church then pictures were taken of all Whitaker descendants.   I got in on the pictures because I wore my Whitaker tee-shirt and cap!

We then followed Bob and Betty Whittaker to Abingdon where they had lodging in the Martha Washington Inn, next door to the Francis Preston Home.   There I again posed for pictures, after which we headed back to Salyersville.

To all you local Whitaker descendants, you would have loved it!   Although I am not a descendant, I was on Cloud Nine!   I urge you to make a trip to visit the Mark Whitaker memorials. You will come away a prouder person for being a descendant of such a remarkable ancestor.

We are happy to report that the Smith and Sally (Gardner) Reed memorial marker was set on Tuesday of this week in the Penix Cemetery on Mash Fork. A dedication of this marker will take place soon. We have been in contact with some descendants and they plan to be here.

This is a one of a kind memorial as it has Aunt Sally's obituary lettered on the back of the large double marker.   It is very impressive and we are grateful to Mollie and Imogene Conley who first made donations toward the project.  

Come in and visit us at 191 South Church Street in Salyersville. If you can't come then write to us at Box 222, Salyersville, KY 41465 or email Magoffin@foothills.net . Our telephone number is 606-349-1607.

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