Family joins forces to preserve cemetery of ancestors

By Mary Ann Kearns - [email protected]
Cousin Barbara Malka takes a photo while cousins John Patterson, Pat Jacobi, Dale Jacobi, Eve Tucker and Julie Cleaver examine one of the gravestones in the Coburn Cemetery in Germantown. -
Engraving on the tombstone on the Coburn Cemetery. -
Cousins Barbara Malka, John Patterson, Pat Jacobi, Dale Jacobi, Julie Cleaver, Eve Tucker and Besty Davenport gather to set off for the Coburn Cemetery. -

A group of distant relatives, drawn together by a common goal, came to Maysville with a mission in mind — to preserve and restore a long-neglected family cemetery.

The cousins are all descended from some key historical figures from the area including Bull Nelson, Dr. John Coburn, Thomas Nelson, Marshall Key, John Patterson, Anderson Doniphan and the Wood line. They traveled to Maysville from New York, California and Florida for the purpose of resurrecting and preserving the old Coburn Cemetery off Kentucky 596 in Germantown.

During their stay, they will be touring downtown Maysville and Old Washington. A visit with another cousin, Joseph Byrd Brannen was also on the agenda.

But visiting the Coburn Cemetery near the site of the now demolished Patterson home in Germantown was the primary objective, Dale Jacobi, who came to Maysville from New York, said. Joining her on the adventure is her husband, Pat; along with cousins Eve Tucker of Florida, Julie Cleaver and Barbara Malka of California, Betsy Davenport of Millersburg, and John Patterson of Loveland, Ohio.

Discovering the cemetery and clues during ancestry searches on Ancestry.com connected the formerly unacquainted cousins said, Cleaver. During that research they found that Dale Jacobi and John Patterson had both found the cemetery just weeks apart on previous unconnected trips to the area. Jacobi said she knocked on the door of the home near the cemetery and found owners Kathleen and R.J. Chinn family who said they were welcome to explore the old burial ground.

“This is an adventure. We came to walk in our ancestors’ footprints and to get to know each other and to know each other,” she said. “That’s been a dream of mine for 20 years.”

The old cemetery, where members of the Coburn family were buried for five decades from 1825 to 1875, is crumbling so the cousins were meeting Thursday with a representative from a monument company to see if some of the broken monuments could be repaired or preserved. They also spent time deciphering headstones for names and discovered some before unknown headstones and others which had been removed from graves.

“We want to know what can be done to restore and preserve this cemetery,” Dale Jacobi said.

Dale Jacobi said there were nine stones and three others, marking what may have been infant graves before more were found Thursday.

Eventually, the family would like to gain pioneer status for the cemetery and even secure a historic marker for the site.

Cleaver also plans to leave a family Bible in Kentucky where it originated. She was given the Dr. Anderson Doniphan Bible after someone contacted her through Ancestry.com, saying they had bought the 1811 Bible at an estate sale in Lexington. She brought it back to Kentucky with her to share with her cousins and will leave it with a relative in Louisville.

In the meantime, the cousins will continue to explore their ancestorial connections and to work to preserve the final resting place of their forefathers.

Cousin Barbara Malka takes a photo while cousins John Patterson, Pat Jacobi, Dale Jacobi, Eve Tucker and Julie Cleaver examine one of the gravestones in the Coburn Cemetery in Germantown.
https://maysville-online.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/web1_cemetery-1.jpgCousin Barbara Malka takes a photo while cousins John Patterson, Pat Jacobi, Dale Jacobi, Eve Tucker and Julie Cleaver examine one of the gravestones in the Coburn Cemetery in Germantown.

Engraving on the tombstone on the Coburn Cemetery.
https://maysville-online.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/web1_cemetery2-1.jpgEngraving on the tombstone on the Coburn Cemetery.

Cousins Barbara Malka, John Patterson, Pat Jacobi, Dale Jacobi, Julie Cleaver, Eve Tucker and Besty Davenport gather to set off for the Coburn Cemetery.
https://maysville-online.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/web1_cemetery3-1.jpgCousins Barbara Malka, John Patterson, Pat Jacobi, Dale Jacobi, Julie Cleaver, Eve Tucker and Besty Davenport gather to set off for the Coburn Cemetery.

By Mary Ann Kearns

[email protected]