WRAY CEMETERY, (Kelly Creek SE) GILES COUNTY TENNESSEE

Mapping the Location

Area Photos: Photo1 / Rail Road Bridge across Kelly's Creek

WRAY, Rachel (Jennings), consort of Samuel Wray, (born cir 24 Jan 1810) - Died 27 Sep 1830, Age 20 yrs, 8 months, 3 days. (d/o Clement "Clem" Jennings 1770 1837 and Anne Wimbish Cooke; husband of Samuel B. Wray/(Ray).   Tombstone Photo1 / Tombstone Photo2

PA, Kitty, Died 7 June 1889. Inscribed as: "KITTY PA (next line) DID E. (next is a backward J) J7 (next line) 188 (last is a backward and strange shaped 9)". I believe this is a case of an illiterate stone inscriber maybe working with a homemade stone. I don't think one can say conclusively that the interpretation of this inscription is 100% as the inscriber intended, or as we have it, but the photo is clear enough that you can draw your own conclusions.
Tombstone Photo1 / Tombstone Photo2

Unknown stone, photographed by David Walker, marking an unknown grave. Photo / seen in this photo in the foreground Photo

Many field stones. This is a big area,  The landowner (farmers) has avoided tilling a large area of maybe two thirds of an acres, which may include many more graves.

This past Sunday afternoon, I walked the south bank of the Elk River at Kelly Creek (south of present-day Wheelerton), in Giles County right on the Lincoln County line. I looking for evidence of a small community that once thrived there at the old Salt House, a local goods building operated by John McCracken about 1810. This is also the location for the crossing of the old McCutcheon Trace (Shoemaker's Ferry) and the ancient Richland Creek Road.

My cursory effort yielded an old road, and an unlisted cemetery  (Rachael Wray Cem) at the coordinates 35.082753,-86.855251

The only stone I was able to read was for Rachel Wray, aged 20, who died in 1830. I noticed numerous, probably dozens of old unmarked graves in that grove a trees. Do you have any information for a grave at that location?

This may have been a burial ground also used by native American Indians as noted in the mounding up of the cemetery. That would be perhaps well before Europeans moved into the area. the cemetery is in the midst of a mildly conspicuous, roundish rise (maybe five feet?) in the landscape, covered in large, beautiful trees, encompassed about 1 acre. I can't help but think the rise may have been a mound: the edges of the field around the trees are lower, and fills up when it rains.

It could be that the adjacent Kelly's Creek carved its way around a particularly stubborn jumble of rocks, or Indians scooped the dirt to make a mound. Can't tell yet. The property owner, forbids anyone from collecting arrowhead and other Indian artifacts in the field. Notice the Carved Indian artifact lying on the lower RH corner of Rachel Wray's stone As I was walking across the uncultivated field, I found this (Animal) skinning flint or aborted arrowhead. And I left it with the stone in keeping with the instructions of the landowner.

VR,
David Walker
Ardmore, AL/TN

Historical notes by David: This past weekend I was specifically looking for evidence of the McCutcheon Trace, the ancient Richland Creek Road, and the Salt House before I found the cemetery. Sure enough the road surfaces are clearly visible along much of their tracks, but no Salt House yet. When the water level goes down on the Elk River the crossing will be much easier to estimate.

The Tree lined Row crossing north of the Wray Cemetery in a straight east/west line is an old road that became known as the "Upper Pulaski Road". Today it includes at least one tall barbed wire fence and two columns of trees, mostly large. In between the trees is the old sunken road. The road was commissioned by Lincoln County and routed/built by local citizens in early times. The intention was to develop the best trade route from the Salt House to the Alabama state line, for easier access to and from Huntsville, Alabama.

Before the railroad was constructed about 1915-1920, what is now called Eagan Cemetery Road continued straight almost to the Elk River, then dog-legged to the left toward Shoemaker's Ferry, the MaCutcheon Trace and the Salt House, a trading post that was first built to store and sell salt from a flatboat that couldn't pass upstream beyond the shallows adjacent to the ferry.

For years a fellow by the name of McCracken operated the salt house. I think he was also a postmaster, as a post office inhabited the place from about 1813 to 1823.

I'll be going (north) across the Elk River soon to climb Latitude Hill, in search of (survey) markings from 1783 to 1807. I seriously doubt there will be any. Very few folks know there's a "Latitude Hill" where the initial surveys were made for the southern boundary of Tennessee. I'll also look for (the lost) Young Cemetery when I go over there.  [D.W.]

This publication is based on the partial photography and findings of David Walker of Ardmore Tennessee. Added to this site 9 Jan 2014 by C. Wayne Austin. This listing was previously published in the book Giles County Tennessee Cemeteries by the Historical Society, 1987, page 528. Revised 24 Feb 2014. Added Photos & information from David Walker. Updated to add Rachel Wray's genealogy as specified in Ancestry.com as sent by David Walker.

 

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