Where's George?

 

For ten years, we wondered where George "the Elder" Kentfield was buried. Standard sources said it was in Morristown, Vermont. Well, we looked and looked, and found more and more cemeteries in Morristown. And we found more and more Kenfields, Dikes and other relatives. But no George.

After we moved to New York in 1995, research took a new turn. We knew that 10 years after settling in Morristown, George moved to Sterling, a town that no longer exists. We started looking at the old Sterling records, which -- contrary to conventional wisdon -- had not all been incorporated into Morristown records. We did find some records about George, but no burial. Visits to cemeteries that had been in Sterling, but were now in Morristown, also were in vain.

But the Sterling records pointed us in the other direction, to Johnson. We eventually learned from Sterling property records that George's Sterling farm was somewhere on the Sterling-Johnson border, possibly in a part of Sterling that later became part of Johnson. (Some of the books say that Sterling was absorbed into Morristown. Not so. It was divided among Morristown, Johnson, Cambridge and Stowe.) And it turns out George's death was recorded in Johnson.

So, with the help of family still in the area, we began searching Johnson cemeteries. And one day in 1998, checking out a dirt road on what is called "the back side of the river," we found the tiny Grow Cemetery. And there they were: George, his wife Rebecca, their daughter Betsey, and Rebecca's brother Thomas Robertson. But wouldn't you know, the photos didn't come out. It wasn't until October 1999 that we had a chance to return and take the photos you see here.

Look again at the cemetery. What you see here is virtually the entire cemetery. At dead center in the photo (sorry about that) is a row of stubby, broken stones. To their right is a smaller group of broken stones, partly hidden by a white stone in the foreground. It is marked in this photo. There are two gray stones at the left, peeking around the white foreground stone. The leftmost of those two is George and Rebecca. The other reads, "Eunice wife of McDaniel Gregg July 31, 1839 Age 38 years." We have not yet found any connection between the Greggs and the Kenfields, so we don't know why she was buried among the family. (Several other Greggs are elsewhere in the cemetery.) The white stone on the right of the group is Thomas Robertson. The white stone just to the left of the marked group is Betsey.

Here is the row of stones from another angle. Just to Betsey's left is a very small stone with the letters "R.C." Is this Betsey's older sister Rebecca? We don't know when or where she died. Is it her younger sister Ruamy? We also don't know when or where she died, although she married a man named Smith in Sterling in 1821. Is it Betsey's son Roswell Dike? We have no middle initial for any of them. Farther to Betsey's left, at the far end of the row, are her son Wilson Dike and his wife Ann. But curiously, Betsey's husband Linus is buried five miles away in Morristown.

Just to the left of George and Rebecca is a broken stone, with some illegible fragments of markings. Is this another of George and Rebecca's children? To Eunice's right are three small stones. They do not appear to be broken, but have no discernible markings. Are they Kenfields, Greggs, or Robertsons?

There must have been records of burials in the Grow Cemetery, which was established by the town of Johnson in 1804. What happened to them? It's a mystery.

There is a further mystery about the Grow Cemetery. According to one book of Vermont family history, the cemetery was located on George Kentfield's own farm. But according to property records we've seen, his farm was over a mile away.

And the biggest mystery of all, now that we know where George the Elder was buried: what happened to his son, George the Younger? After appearing in the 1830 census in Stowe, he disappears.