Rich Mountain Cemetery Adventure

Rich Mountain Cemetery Cook, Elizabeth HudsonSain, Dianne at Rich Mtn Cemetery Sain, Gene at Rich Mtn Cemetery  Rich Mountain Cemetery_edited-1

On Sunday March 5, 2000, my husband Gene and I took off in our old Suburban to try and find an old cemetery up in the South Mountains. You see, Gene had stumbled over some old gravestones while deer hunting some 30 years ago up there. He said he can’t remember even looking for names on the stones. Guess he just figured he wouldn’t know them anyway. Several weeks ago, I was boring him with my genealogy research and told him about finding families of Edward Cook’s descendants all around the foot of the South Mountains. That’s when he told me about this old cemetery! Can you imagine how excited I got? It has been hard to wait these few weeks to go. The first Saturday after that it was raining; the second Saturday it was raining, but this Sunday it was perfect.

We began talking to our son, Jeff, about our trip. He rides the jeep trails on 4-wheelers and also 4-wheel drive vehicles with his friends. He informed us that the Enola entrance, as well as the Golden Valley entrance had been closed and the only way into these hills was off the Highway 64 entrance, which is about 5 miles north of Morganton. The road that goes all the way across from Morganton to Pine Mountain Lakes has always been known as the CCC road. This CCC stands for Civilian Conservation Corps.

Sunday morning we left home around 9:30 a.m. and made a stop in Morganton at Wal-Mart to see if we could find a good map of the area with the names of the little peaks etc. We did not find one there, but did find one which was somewhat helpful at the Ingles Supermarket nearby. We trekked on up Highway 64 to the Roper Hollow Road. This paved road turns into dirt about 1.4 miles from Hwy. 64. From there on up you will need a 4-wheel drive vehicle. It is very rocky! Also, try to pick a dry time to go, for there are deep mud holes. It is approximately 13 miles into the area of the cemetery. We stopped along the road around 11:30 to eat our picnic lunch, but someone had forgotten to get the bread! We ended up eating snack stuff instead of our roast beef and bologna. Gene had to really look the area over good to jog his memory about the area. He knew exactly where the little path was that would lead him over to that ridge. We parked the car, grabbed the camera, a piece of paper, and an ink pen and started walking. It was such a beautiful day with temperature around 70 degrees. As we walked down the path and we came upon an old hunting camp, which is no longer in use. Jeff says that the South Mountain Park bought them out. We crossed a little branch and walked along the trickling water for some distance. This area had a lot of old apple trees along it. These apple trees were one of the things that Gene remembered well. We then cut up across the mountain, climbing to the ridge line. He said we needed to just walk the ridge till we found it. He couldn’t remember just how far, but thought we were in the general area. He began to feel disheartened and said maybe he had just dreamed this etc. We kept walking, but stopped to rest every now and again. As I looked up in the distance, I could see a fence. I said, “They’ve fenced it in.” He looked again and said, “Yes, that’s it!” He told me later that at first he thought the campers had probably built a corral for their horses, because there wasn’t a fence around it when he had been there before.

I can’t tell you the excitement of finding this cemetery. I would have been happy to find it even if there wasn’t a Cook buried there. But I crossed over the fence and focused on two stones on the upper end, which read: “Riley Cook and Elizabeth Cook.” I couldn’t help but shed some tears. I told Gene there were cold chills running over my skin. I counted the graves that I could see the soap stones for. There were 35 that I could count. Riley and Elizabeth’s were the only two I could see any writing on. There were several pine trees fenced in and there was a small grove of rhododendron on the graves. I only wish I had taken some flowers up there with me. The fence was made of 6 x 6 pine posts with 2 rails all way around the perimeter. It was very, very neat and I believe it had not been built many years. I would like to meet the person who built that fence. Perhaps he could tell me more about this family. We made quite a few pictures, and wrote down the information from the stones. This was the information on the stones:

Riley Cook, June 14, 1845, Dec 24, 1915
Elizabeth, wife of Riley Cook, Born, July 27, 1849, Died, April 12, 1925.

We spent some time there talking about why Riley might have settled there. We wondered where he farmed, for we saw nothing that looked like cleared land from the past, nor any old home place around. He probably got his water from that little branch we talked about earlier. Maybe he didn’t live up there. Maybe he just lived in Enola and came up from that side, which would only have been 4 or 5 miles and requested to be buried there. We wondered who else was buried in that cemetery. We were full of questions and no answers.

We went back down the mountain more excited than when we went up. I asked Gene to go over to the Enola section to see if we could find Pleasant Hill Baptist Church where Riley’s brother Eli was buried, along with some of his family. We, indeed, found it and compared the inscriptions with those of Bill Floyd. I snapped a couple of pictures here also. Next we followed the Enola road out to the Watershed Road. The road was not blocked off, so we continued up the mountain. We were able to go nearly to the top before the road was cabled off. We are not sure just how close we were to reaching the area where the cemetery is located from that side.

I am really excited about finding this information. If you have any other information on the people buried at Rich Mountain or know any thing about its history, I would love to hear it.

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Published in: on October 4, 2013 at 7:45 pm  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thank you for posting this online. Do have the names of the other people buried in this cemetery?

  2. At one time when I was doing genealogy regularly, I would run into some names of people who were buried there, but I did not write them down. Wish I had. Should I run into some in the future, I am going to do that. Could have been Chapman’s or Cook’s. Seems like that was the families nearby, but could have been others.


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