Locals work to preserve ‘forgotten’ cemetery

October 26, 2015
Photos by Emily Baker A group of locals work to preserve the Bertha Cemetery in Gray. From left to right: Bonnie Henson Carr, Elizabeth Rice Hayes, Brenda Martin, Ron Martin and Marty Lain Wyatt.

Photos by Emily Baker
A group of locals work to preserve the Bertha Cemetery in Gray.
From left to right: Bonnie Henson Carr, Elizabeth Rice Hayes, Brenda Martin, Ron Martin and Marty Lain Wyatt.

Hidden away in the woods of Gray, a graveyard lies in danger of being consumed by the surrounding nature.


“We want to shed light on these ‘forgotten’ graveyards,” explained Brenda Martin, as she walked the nearly overgrown path that lead to the cemetery. “This whole area is rich with history.”

Nature has taken its toll on Bertha Cemetery, many headstones are broken while other graves remain completely unmarked.

Nature has taken its toll on Bertha Cemetery, many headstones are broken while other graves remain completely unmarked.

The Bertha Cemetery, also known as North Jellico Cemetery, is located on a plot of land leased to a local quail club. The entire hollow was once a large mining town in the 1880’s through the early 1900’s, where the population once grew as large as two thousand people. The mine is credited with proving a lasting economical boom for the surrounding area. Now, however, Bertha Hollow is a small community, and the only evidence of a once booming town, is the cemetery on the hill.

Rows upon rows of crumbling headstones, barely visible among the overgrowth, can be found on the hillside. Surnames such as Sparks, Lester, Mullins, Frost, Gray, Wallace, Dizney, Griffin and Profit stand out.

“We do what we can,” said Marty Wyatt, whose ancestors are buried in the Bertha Cemetery, “but we need help.”

Photo curtsey of Marty Lain Wyatt Families like that of William Boyd Dizney, pictured here with his wife Daisy and their son lived in the mining town of Bertha Hollow and are buried there today.

Photo curtsey of Marty Lain Wyatt
Families like that of William Boyd Dizney, pictured here with his wife Daisy and their son lived in the mining town of Bertha Hollow and are buried there today.

Wyatt and Martin, along with others who have family members buried in the cemetery, have taken it upon themselves to attempt to preserve Bertha Cemetery and others like it.

“Our goal is to create a cemetery board.” said Martin. “A group of people interested in preserving our area’s history.”

DSC_1141Web“We can do a lot of the work ourselves,” added Wyatt, “but there are projects that require more man power.”

For those interested, a Kentucky History Facebook group has been created to help connect them to those already working on the cemetery.

If you would like more information or would like to assist the families working to preserve the cemetery, you can contact Marty Wyatt at (606)-758-0097, or Brenda Martin at (606)-524-7450.

“We don’t want to stop with this cemetery,” explained Wyatt, “there are others in the area that we would like to improve.”