May is the month for mothers and memorials, and one family has gotten a head start.
Helen Jackson of Brush Prairie, Wash., said, “The first time we saw the Bradshaw Cemetery was in the year 1998. The first burial was in about 1920 and the last in 1951. The cemetery was in the middle of a cow pasture on the old Bradshaw property in the Sycamore community northeast of Vian.”
Jackson and other members of her family banded together to clean up the cemetery recently.
She said, “It was hardly recognizable as a cemetery, and the graves were covered with brush, vines, weeds and trees that were growing around headstones. It was worse in the summer when everything was leafed out. Dixie Jackson and Booze Ballard had erected a fence in about 1960 but now cows had pushed the rotten corner fence post down and were trampling on the graves.”
Jackson said her family travels from Washington State each year to visit the area and the cemetery.
“Each time we visited the cemetery it was heavy on our hearts to restore the cemetery in respect for the kinfolk buried there. We also knew because of chiggers and ticks we could not undertake this job in the summer,” Jackson said.
The family then decided to take a different tack, and work on the cemetery before bugs and growth outnumbered them.
“The first of this year,” she said, “we were afforded the opportunity to travel to Sallisaw in February. After 10 years we could finally restore the cemetery. Family members, two of them traveling from Texas, volunteered and the Cherokee Nation sent a crew from their Natural Resource Department to help us. They used their GPR machine to help us find all the graves. After a week of pulling weeds, clearing brush, and falling trees we were finally able to erect a new chain link fence around the cemetery.”
The goal of the family was to remember those buried there, and return the cemetery to the point where it was no longer considered abandoned.
“The daffodils that had been growing over the graves could now see the sunlight,” Jackson said after the clean up. “Flowers were placed on graves and we could go home knowing that this cemetery was no longer considered abandoned.”
Jackson thanked those who assisted with the clean up.
She said, “I want to thank everyone who helped us with the Bradshaw Cemetery restoration. The following are descendants (and their wives) of Jim and Clara Sanders Jackson.”
—Bo and Donna Webster
—Carlton and Jean Jackson
—Jim and Louise Jackson
Others thanked by the family include:
—Sam and Rhoda Craighead
—Butch Garner and his crew from the Cherokee Nation Natural Resource Department
—Willard Mouse and Jamie Hothouse for running the GPR
—Rick Agent of Agent Funeral Home for the grave marker
—Green Acre Village for the fencing
—Will Chavez and his photographer Roger for the article on the cemetery restoration
—Cherokee Nation Council for approving the restoration grant
—Sam Ed Bush, Janelle Fulbright, Kathy Nelson and Crosslin Smith for the advice in helping finally accomplish this project
Jackson said, “If I have missed thanking anyone who helped me I apologize. I am grateful to everyone that helped in whatever way.
“Most of all I would like to thank my husband Randy, the grandson of Jim and Clara,” Jackson said, “who put up with me for the last 10 years while I did my research on the families buried in the Bradshaw cemetery. Thank you all and God bless each and everyone of you.”
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