Saturday, March 25, 2000 found Benton Co. Genealogical Members Artie and Brenda Griffith, Doris, Ben and Adam Hightower, Fay Cain, W.I. Gregson, Terry Cuff, Floyd Robins, Clara Nell Morisette assembled for another Saturday cemetery clean up effort. They were joined by volunteers Joyce Phifer and grandchildren, Sharon and Lora Phifer, Leon and Opal Cagle, Sadie Ruth and Dale Wheatley.
The first one to benefit from their efforts was the Melton Cemetery, located on Harmons Creek. TVA map number 773 drawn in the early 1940s supplied names for 23 people buried there. Shown on the map are 30 graves. The first land grand was 159 acres to Joseph and wife Patience Hargrove Melton dated December 19, 1821. The first recorded date of a burial in the cemetery was that of Joseph Melton in 1835.
Others buried there are: Patience Melton, 1772-1860; Wiley J. Melton, D. 1890; Martha Melton, child of Ethelred and Mary Melton born 1845, died about 1866; Mary Ann Melton, 1816 - 1863; Creasy Melton, second wife of Etheldred Melton born 1815, died 1884; Etheldred Melton, born February 12, 1813, died April 24, 1885; Mary Lee Hence Melton, daughter of W.H. and Martha Melton, born 1864, died 1874; W.H. Melton, born 1880, died 1887, child of W.H. and Mary A. Melton; Roena Bell Melton, daughter of W.H. and Mary A. Melton, born 1883, died 1889; Martha Melton, possible first wife of W.H. Melton, born 1842, died 1867; Melton child, possible child of Etheldred and Mary A. Melton; Melton child, possible child of W.H. and Martha Melton, named George W., born 1859; Infant Melton, possible child of W.H. and Mary A. Melton, named Lucinda B., born 1886 died 1886; Joseph (Joe) W. Melton, born 1839, died 1879; John Melton, son of Etheldred and Mary A. Melton, born 1850 died 1882; B.F. Melton, hand carved marker, 1897; Beatrice Melton, possible Beatrice Evaline, a child, born 1879, died after 1880; Eliza Bates, no dates; William (Bill) Cole, born about 1833 died 1860-1870, second husband of Narcissa Jane Cole; Narcissa Jane Cole, daughter of Sion Melton, born about 1821, died after 1870; Ben Holland, no dates; Analiza Myers, daughter of Sion Melton, born 1838; Lucretia Phifer, grand daughter of Sion Melton, born 1859; Charity Warnick, daughter of Sion Melton, born 1822; Hiram Warnick, husband of Charity, born 1818.
A legend has it that at least one slave was buried in this cemetery and the grave lies in a north-south direction in the back of the cemetery. This grave was found, maybe two others.
Through the yeas the cemetery has been unattended. When the late Ford Melton started tracing his roots, he took on as a project with the help of his brother Grady to clean this cemetery. Also with the effort of the late Mavis Jones some of the Melton descendants set a permanent marker, one large stone with all the known names on it, on August 31, 1981. Grady maintained it. Due to his declining health, he was no longer able to keep it up, and once again the cemetery became unattended.
After finishing the above cemetery, it was on to the David Benton Cemetery for needed clean up. David Washington Benton, Sr., was a native of South Carolina who moved to Benton County and settled on Harmons Creek. Benton County is named after David. He married Fereby Melton, daughter of John and Elizabeth Jones Melton.
In Jonathan Smith's A History of Benton County to 1900 it is reported that, "Mr. J.D. Melton and Mr. Blake Pafford both had heard the latter's father, Thomas Pafford, speak several times on the occasion when he and his father William Pafford, had attended a funeral at Harmons Creek, as corroborated by mortality schedule. The graveyard without any markers."
David was born about 1779, and died 1860. Fereby was born about 1775, and died 1861.
Mrs. Rhea Heppe, a descendent of David, and her husband, who reside in Mississippi, were here in March of 1987 and put down markers. Genealogical research indicated that David Benton was buried on his homeplace with his wife by the campground. There are another five graves that are unknown.
On April 14, 1988, a permanent marker honoring David Benton for his service during the war of 1812, in the third regiment, Tenn., Militia, was erected by Rhea Heppe at the gravesite on G.E. Robins' farm on Harmons Creek Road.
The Cemetery Renovation Project April schedule is an April 1st cleanup of the Old and New Bethlehem cemeteries, April 8th is the Green Hatley Cemetery, and April 15th is the Edward Lindsey Cemetery. The meeting place for April 8th and 15th has not been chosen at this time. Anyone interested can contact a member of the society or watch for the announcements in the local papers.
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