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Vernal/Mayfield Cemetery One of County’s Earliest Places of Burial

Blog post by Randi Richardson

Behind the historic Mayfield house on Oard Road, with enough space in between for a nice sized garden, is a cemetery.    It’s relatively small in size, about half an acre, with 106 or 107 aging, barely legible tombstones.  Today it is known as the Vernal/Mayfield Cemetery.

Rev. Leroy Mayfield probably didn’t think of it as a cemetery when he buried Sally, his first wife, there on a warm June day in 1829.  She was the first burial in the plot and only 42 at the time of her death.   Left behind were nine motherless children.

A view of the Vernal/Mayfield Cemetery in April 2020 taken from the road.

And when Rev. Mayfield’s kinfolk began to die a few years later, they, too, were buried in the plot.  Then members of the Vernal Baptist Church, where he was pastor from the time he was ordained in 1824 to the time of his death in 1851, were interred there among family and friends.   After all, where else would they go?   For many years they had no church and met in homes of various members.

As time passed the Mayfield property was sold several times, often after being divided into smaller parcels.  In 1910, the Vernal Baptist Church disbanded.  Then weeds in the cemetery grew tall.    Bramble hid many of the graves until finally the cemetery was abandoned altogether.

In 1967 the Mayfield house, along with the property surrounding the graveyard, was purchased by Wayne and Rose Horn.  Out of respect for the people buried there, they began caring for the cemetery.   But they weren’t young anymore and needed help.  Members of the Bloomington chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution got involved.  They wanted the county to take over the property that had been sold twice for delinquent property taxes after it had been misdeeded.  That was in 1993.

It is quite obvious that visitors to the cemetery are not welcomed.

Wade died in 2009 at the age of 81.  Rose, who died in 2018, was no longer able to care for her home or the cemetery.  Dictated by need rather than desire, she sold her home to David Devitt a few years before her death.  According to information provided by the Monroe County History Center Cemetery Committee in 2018, the cemetery is now managed by the Richland Township trustee.

At the entrance to the grassy path leading from the road to the cemetery is a sign prominently posted “No Trespassing.” Although the stones are visible when winter winds and snow strip the leaves from the trees, when the trees are once again in full foliage one would have to look mighty hard to catch a glimpse of the cemetery.

The most recent burials at the Vernal/Mayfield Cemetery are those for Lucinda Sanders Crouch and Lucinda Sanders in 1918.  At least one veteran of the Revolution War and five Civil War veterans are buried there as well.

SOURCES:

  • David Thompson, “Historic Cemetery in Need,” Bloomington (IN) Herald-Times, July 28, 1993, p. 1+.
  • “Honoring Christ Together,” The Ellettsville Story 1837-1987, p. 150-151.
  • Cemetery Committee, Monroe County History Center, “Vernal/Mayfield Cemetery,” A Summary of the Cemeteries in Monroe County, Indiana, p. 272.
  • Randi Richardson, “Leroy Mayfield Home on National Register of Historic Place,” MCHCLibrary.Wordpress.com.
  • http://walktombstones.blogspot.com/2016/04/vernal-mayfield-cemetery.html.  In April 2016, Amber, her daughter and some helpers visited the Vernal Church/Mayfield Cemetery on private property to repair a number of broken stones and photograph others.
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