Pioneer Cemeteries and Their Stories,

Madison County, Indiana

Prewett Cemetery

Home Up

aka Prewitt

Pipe Creek Township

Location: south side of CR 700N, between CRs 700W and 750W

Begun in the 1830s, the Prewett Cemetery is still serving the residents of Pipe Creek Township.  While the older stones are on a shaded hill, the newer markers are aligned down the hill and through the small meadow that runs along CR 700N as seen in the above photo.

    The Prewett/Prewitt Cemetery was begun for the farming families who first entered this western section of Madison County in the mid 1830s. At left, below, is the stone for "John Miller died Aug. 23, 1849 aged 47 yrs. & 8 ds."  John has the distinction of being one of the earliest to homestead in Pipe Creek Township.  John and his family were the third--behind John Shell, the first, and Jacob Sigler, the second--to clear the land, build a log shelter, raise crops, and husband livestock. 

 

Relative Jacob Miller, right, may be one of the oldest to be buried here.  He was eighty-nine when he died in 1864.  This makes his birth year around 1775, the beginnings of America's revolution.  Jacob was born during one war and died in the period of a later one, the Civil War.  What history his life spanned!

 

     Indeed, the earliest legible gravestone is that of Elizabeth Flint who at fifty-one years of age died in 1835.  Of course, as in any pioneer cemeteries, there are graves without markers. Logically, any number of those could be interments before that year.  The next oldest stone, however, is that for five year old Deborah Mills who followed in 1836.  Many of the earliest stones, in fact, are those for children. In the first half of the 19th century, the death rate for those not yet in their adolescence could run as high as one in three.  The records of the Prewett bare witness to that high percentage among the young.  The Mills family lost three more children before 1853, and the Montgomery family lost a total of six before 1854. The family of William Montgomery, c. 1781-1844, is listed as one of the first to settle in the township before 1840.  William is buried here along with his wife who died in 1849. 

At left is the stone for Elizabeth "wife of Joseph Flint, died Feb. 11, 1835 aged 51 yrs. & 10 ms."  Another stone for the Flint family, with very legible and attractive script, is that for Charity, left middle; she died "Oct. 2, 1842, aged 32 yrs. & 21 ds."  Representing the many children buried here is Mahala whose stone reads, "Daughter of Stephen & Mary Cox. Died Aug. 18, 1853 Aged 3yrs. 5 mo. & 25 D."  William Montgomery's stone is at far right.  He died "Feb. 25, 1844, in the 63 years of his life."  That last phrasing is unique for the grave markers in Madison County.

   

    The cemetery was named for the Prewetts who were first land owners and who began the burial ground.  The earliest graves having legible stones with the Prewett surname are those for William Prewett, c. 1795-1863, and Sarah, 1796-1861. Other first families to this township, represented at this graveyard, who have not already been mentioned are the Benefiels, Jerrells, Littles, Moores, Shaws, and Webbs. 

  Although encroached upon by mulberry bushes, the beautiful markers for William and Sarah Prewett can still be appreciated.  William, who died November 14, 1863, was sixty-eight years old, making his birth year around 1797.  His wife Sarah died October 1, 1861, at sixty-five years, making her birth year about 1796.  Their gravestones are Victorian in style: curving lines, arched tops, medallions for the data, and symbols--the flowers, representing love for Sarah and the Bible for William's faith.  The markers are also large indicating that the Prewetts were wealthy and successful.  Even the faint remnants of a customary verse can be detected above the dark gray bases.

Judging by the pink silk flowers at the foot of William's stone, someone has been doing his/her genealogy.

     

    According to Samuel Harden's The Pioneer, an early settler to the area was William Benefiel/Benefield, who was born August 14, 1806, near Mt. Sterling, Kentucky.  He married Cynthia A. Kidwell 1826 in Wayne County, Indiana.  She was the daughter of Rev. Jonathan Kidwell, a Universalist minister, the founder of the Cincinnati Star, and a debater who had held discussions with Benjamin Franklin. William brought his family in 1834 to Madison County and settled along Pipe Creek.  His property was three miles north of Perkinsville and "one of the finest farms in the county."  Historian Harden continues, "He [William] was a large, powerful man, and reared a large family of strong, healthy children": James M., Robert S., Jonathan, Rebeeca A., Levi, Leander J., Isham, and William H.  Wife Cynthia died in 1854 when forty-seven years old, and William died in 1870 at sixty-four years. Both are buried here at the Prewett Cemetery.

 

 

Clearly marked "Cynthia Ann," the stone at left is for William Benefiel's wife whose father debated with Benjamin Franklin.  Cynthia's maiden name was Kidwell, she and William had eight children, and she died twenty years after arriving in Pipe Creek Township, Madison County, Indiana.

 

 

Another stone for the Benefiel family is that for Mary Jane, daughter of John, who died in 1851.  She was only fifteen years and four months old.  Her stone, in spite of the blackening, is well preserved even to the traditional poem at the bottom.

 

 

 

Catharine's well preserved Victorian stone reads that she was the daughter of John and Rebecca Benefiel.  Catharine died "Mar. 14, 1864 aged 12 Y. 11 M. & 3 D." 

 

 

 

Obviously from the same stone cutter, Rebecca's stone is located near her daughter's.  Rebecca died "Oct. 17, 1863 aged 52 Y. 9 M."

   

    Among the other early settlers resting here are the Jerrells: Joseph, 1804-1870, whose stone is below left; Francis, who was  twenty-two when he died in 1877, middle; and Rebecca, below right, who at fifty-two, also died in 1877

These three markers in the Jerrell/Jarrell section also look to be from the same stone cutter.  They, furthermore, have the same Victorian symbol--hands clasping or shaking.  This represented the partnership of husband and wife in life and their recognition and friendship in the after-life.

 

     While the Webb family--Jacob, Jasper, Minor, and Theodore--are recorded as first land owners in various townships, the family burial site was evidently at the Prewett here in Pipe Creek Township. There are at least twenty-four members of the 19th century Webb family installed here.  At right Theodore was fifty-nine when he died in 1860.  His wife Rebecca is in the middle. Another patriarch of the family was Jacob, husband of Mary, left.  Webb descendants still reside in Madison County.

 

 

    Sarah, wife of Isaac Moore was born during the Revolutionary War.  She was eighty years old when she died in 1856, making her birth year around 1776.  Husband Isaac was born in 1764-- before the Revolution.  He died at eighty-nine years of age in 1853.  Isaac and Sarah were the parents of Thomas Moore who has a biography in the 1895 The Pioneer by Samuel Harden: "Mr. [Thomas] and Mrs. Moore first settled in Pipe Creek township, Madison county, about the year 1839, on the county line three miles west of Frankton and four miles south of Elwood.  Here in the new county a life of toil and hard work began...  Mr. M. was born in Virginia in 1799, son of Isaac Moore..."  Evidently, parents Isaac and Sarah moved with and lived near their son Thomas and his family.  In fact, it seems they were relatives for a substantial contingent of Moore families who settled in this locale.  Here at the Prewett are also John Moore, who was eighty-two when he died in 1880, and Daniel, who was seventy-four when he died in 1875.  Females recorded here for this family were Rebecca, sixty-eight years old when she died in 1874, and Deborah, who passed away in 1889 at seventy-nine.

  Sarah's well preserved stone is left, and husband Isaac's is middle.  In the same section, relative William Moore died in 1872 when sixty-four years of age.

 

And speaking of genealogy, a researcher has chalked this blackened stone and found that Rebecca was the wife of John Moore. Hopefully the genealogist could also detect that she was sixty-eight when she died "Jan. 7, 1874."

Others in the same period were seventy-one year old Jacob Little and eighty-six year old Mary Little, who died in 1887 and 1872 respectively.  At right is the marker for Mary Little "wife of Peter Little."  She was eighty-six years old when she passed away September 16, 1872.  That would make her birth year circa 1786.  At the top of her stone is a hand with the index finger pointed heavenward, representing her place of residence in death.

 

Representing the families of other settlers are the stones for Vernila Hays, left, who died in 1879 at eighteen years, Florence Eliza Victoria Hays, middle, who was only two years old when she died in 1870, and the replacement marker, rifght, for the Likens family.

 

 

 

   

    Since the Prewett Cemetery is near the southern border of Pipe Creek Township, it holds several early settlers--like the Webbs above--to neighboring townships.  County historian Samuel Harden lists William Shaw, whose stone is pictured right, as a first land owner in Lafayette Township on the eastern half of Pipe Creek's southern border; William died in 1849 at forty-nine years.

 

 

 

An unrecorded early settler to the local environs must also have been Sarah Orbaugh since she left this life while living in or near Pipe Creek Township in 1849; she was fifty-three.

Isaac and Sarah (Tusing) Orbaugh/Orebaugh have a 20th century cylinder style marker most likely erected by descendants who wanted to honor their ancestors.  Isaac's date are 1806-1859; Sarah's are 1796-1849.  Below Sarah's data is the data for daughter Nancy Ellen.  Since Nancy Ellen was born and died in 1849, the same year as Sarah's death, it could be assumed that mother and daughter died in or from complications during childbirth.

Descendant and family genealogist Oscar Nye in Boise, Idaho, says that the greater Orbaugh family "started in Maryland and Virginia, then moved to Indiana, Kansas, Canada, Washington, Arkansas, California, Oregon, and Idaho.  I know there are more Orbaughs buried...at the Whetstone, City of Elwood, and Sigler cemeteries."

 

 

 

The Callahans have a large section on the west side of the Prewett Cemetery.  Eleven members are recorded on the burial list.  Of those, three are children and three are adolescents.

Sinet Callahan's tablet is in the foreground in the picture at right.  The gray-blue markers for other Callahans, mid ground, are metal and were often used as replacement memorials for ancestors in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The marker for Thomas B. Callahan, left, has been chalked.  He was "13y 6m and 22d" old when he died "Aug. 31. 1859."

 

 

At far left, the only Dipboye on the burial list is Eleanore, who died in 1879 when fifty-four.  Those are bibles on her podium style marker.

 Lafayette Ogborn is the only one of that surname recorded for the Prewett.  The symbols above his name indicate that he was a member of the Masons.

At right, from the shepherd's crook and flowers at Hannah and Moses McCord's column, they also have appreciative descendants who want to acknowledge their ancestors.  Genealogists do seem to flourish in Madison County.

 

In the south east corner is a small section for the Gustins.  Omitted from the burial list by some oversight, Kesia's stone, left, records that she died June of 1867.  Mary's column, middle, and William's tablet, right, are duly noted.  The Gustins were originally from southwest Ohio, specifically Warren County, and while these three lived in Pipe Creek Township, other Gustins homesteaded Union and Adams townships as well as parts of Henry County on Madison's southern border.  (See Otterbein, Walker, Keesling, and West Maplewood for more Gustins.)

 

Civil War soldiers abound in Madison County, too.  Among the veterans buried at the Prewett are Nathaniel Davis, far left, from the Indiana Infantry and N.B. Simison, left, from the Ohio Infantry. 

For Veterans' Day, America flags are placed at the cemeteries by the Veterans Administration.

 

     The Prewett Cemetery is basically well maintained and has many older stones whose design and craftsmanship are well done, very attractive, and unique to Madison County pioneer cemeteries.  As an example is William McCler's Victorian marker, above, with heavy detailed carving, pointed arch, rounded lines, and multiple fonts.

    As the picture above indicates, viewing the Prewett Cemetry from CR 700N, the old section at the top of the hill may well be missed.  However, there are more pioneer and early settlers' graves in the shade of the trees than newer burials near the pavement.

Click here for a list in pdf format of burials with headstones.