A ceremony was held Saturday afternoon to commemorate the newly restored Wilderness Road Cemetery at Pine Mountain State Resort Park. The event was held in honor of Union Civil War veteran Pleasant North, who is buried there.
“I actually became aware of this cemetery in 1995,” said Dean Henson, event coordinator and Pine Mountain naturalist. “With me being interested in history and natural history, I went up to look at this cemetery and was amazed at the number of graves that we found very easily. There were so many head stones, and sunken graves everywhere.”
Henson said he also found out that North was buried there somewhere. Henson said that during the first few years of restoration work,progress would be made and then “it would fall off the way.”
When Park Manager Stephen Eastin came to manage Pine Mountain, he gave Henson all the support he needed to finally finish this project.
And, according to Henson, “two years later, with the help of donations from the Lions and Rotary clubs of Pineville and the a commemorative foot stone donated by Arnett and Steele Funeral Home, we finally get to formally honor this area and the Civil War veteran buried here.”
“The cemetery is believed to be originally established by pioneers traveling along the Wilderness Road during the late 1700’s and early 1800’s,” said Henson. “In all, we found over 100 graves at this site.”
In the near future, Henson plans call for an event to mark the area where a large amount of settlers camped in the bottom lands in preparation for crossing the Cumberland River. This area is now known as Wasioto Winds golf course.
According to Henson, “the area where Camp Buckner was established at Wasioto Winds will be in the National Registry of Civil War sites in 2013.”
“Locals have known about this cemetery for years and when I became park manager they handed me this project and I pulled the trigger and got out of the way of people like Dean Henson, Alby Brock, Bell County Forestry Camp and a number of other experts and sponsors,” Eastin said. “Without them, this wouldn’t have been possible.”
Eastin recognized Greg Howard, who was the warden at the time and allowed inmates to perform manual labor to clear out this hillside.
“This is what parks is about and this is the reason that I am in parks,” Eastin adds. “We are here to protect what we have and in dealing with things like this we need to do our part to conserve it and let it be known.”
Commander Fred Hall brought his honor guard to salute North.
Hall said that this day is important because he had three family members in the Civil War. Hall himself spent 26 years in the Air Force.He has been retired for 34 years.
The honor guard from Camp Nelson National Cemetery, under the leadership of Col. Tracy Lucas, also known as the “Ghost Brigade,” conducted a Civil War era burial ceremony which included a horse-drawn caisson, artillery cannons, a riderless horse and infantry soldiers.
The ceremony also concluded with a 21-gun salute, the playing of “Taps” and the folding and presentation of the flag to state park officials by the Harlan Honor Guard.
This story was written by Chase Smith, a staff writer for the Middlesboro Daily News. She can be contacted at email@example.com.