All right. Day three. We were serious now. We’d had it confirmed that the maps were useless. We’d been told that the pioneer cemetery up by the Sunsinger was off the path behind the statue – the one we’d looked down but hadn’t chosen because it hadn’t had a map – and that the pioneer cemetery at the south end of the park couldn’t actually be reached from within the park, it had to be driven to from one of the country roads that borders the park there.
We were sure this was going to be a quick trip. We’d head out to the Sunsinger, duck down the correct path (finally!), see the cemetery, and drive around to the other one. And luck seemed to be with us – the road to the Sunsinger was open the whole way, saving us the time of walking from the Centaur to the Sunsinger to start our path. It’d be quick – an hour tops, right?
Wrong! We walked down the path to the point where it split into two directions. The guy Dad talked to hadn’t said anything about choosing a direction, so we went to the left for a little bit. It seemed to be heading back into the park after a while so we turned back and went back to the Sunsinger path and then took the right trail. That ended at a house. So we decided to go back the other way and follow the left path further on. We figured we’d covered every trail that was anywhere near where the map showed the cemetery to be except for this one and therefore, through sheer process of elimination, we were bound to find it this time.
It met up with the path that goes off to the right from the Sunsinger, the one we’d taken on day two, so we turned right and went on to the next fork in the road and then headed left again. Unfortunately, there was still no cemetery. We’d found a path that met up with the river, followed it for a bit, and then headed back to the Centaur. And this time we weren’t parked at the Centaur, so we’d have to walk all the way back to the Sunsinger to the car.
But there was a little old man sitting by the Centaur and as we passed Dad asked him if he knew where the pioneer cemetery was. His reply? “Up towards the Sunsinger. Walk along the road and look east and you’ll see the headstones.” We sort of scoffed to ourselves – how could the cemetery been there? We’d walked circles around the area and seen nothing – but we had to walk that way anyway to get back to the car, so we’d keep our eyes open.
We found what seemed to be a trail head with four concrete trail markers so we started down that and it turned out to be the little ravine we’d seen from the bottom on the path we’d been on during day 2, so we headed back to the road, walked a little bit further and there, clear as day, right where the map said it should be (that was the most galling part), was the pioneer cemetery.
This one is the smaller of the two, with only about 8 graves or so, and the stones are harder to read. This one, for an infant son who died in 1850, is the easiest to read of the group. So after a look around there, it was back to the car to see if we could get to the other one – the one that couldn’t be reached from inside the park.
We did. This one was a bit bigger, with maybe 20 graves that seem to have weathered the years a bit more successfully though they’re only about 30 years younger than the stones at the other cemetery. It seemed to be three or four families all buried in rows here complete with headstones and footstones. I think the most interesting set was that of John West who lived to be in his 70s and outlived his entire family, including a daughter (aged 30, I think), a son (aged 20), and three wives, two of whom were named Hannah.
So it took us three days and god knows how much walking and I’m definitely embarrassed by how easily the terrible map and useless trailer markers confused us, but we finally achieved our goal (and managed to get a bit of exercise along the way, too, which always helps, especially this time of year). And, of course, hopefully now we’ll remember where they both are if we ever want to go back again.