Many headstones lay on soft ground where they have been for over a hundred years. One can only imagine the histories of the occupants beneath them. The Clark Chapel Cemetery is nestled in beautiful Pigeon Roost Valley and is surrounded by pastures and woods. Pigeon Roost Valley is so named because many thousands of carrier pigeons, now extinct, chose this valley as their home. Some of the markers are worn from time with etchings barely visible, while newer monuments are adorned with memorial flowers and other family mementos.
This historic cemetery located three miles west of Underwood in Scott County. has a rich history, even though many of its occupants lived a pauper life. The community was settled in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Much of the land in the surrounding area was acquired by land grants, which were signed by presidents Jefferson and Madison. At that time, most of the land was wooded with virgin timber. Because of land grants and an influx of settlers, the area became quite densely populated.
Even as late as the 1940s, evidence of many old house sites existed in wooded areas including what is now Clark State Forest. Because of the population, limited transportation and the emphasis on God at that time, a place of worship was of prime importance.
The first Clark Chapel was built in the 1700s and the second Clark Chapel was built in the early 1800s. Clark Chapel Cemetery originated on the site of the second Clark Chapel. The second chapel burned and another chapel was built and dedicated in 1886 as New Chapel Church. The church is one block from where the second Clark Chapel had been and where the cemetery is located. The church was renamed New Chapel Methodist Church.
Over the years, the cemetery deteriorated to the point that its future seemed destined to be nothing but a permanent patch of weeds and brush. People in the community had begun using other cemeteries for their loved ones. However, this was changed in the 1940s due to the efforts of a few dedicated people. The cemetery restoration, expansion, care and management over the years are also due to the efforts of a few people.
There are two main areas of the cemetery, with the original commonly referred to as “the old part,” and the addition as “the new part.” The oldest monument in the cemetery is that of Ann Nancy Crum, who died at age 42 in 1822. There are also unmarked graves beginning probably as early as 1800, and maybe before.
A landmark monument in the center of the original cemetery is well-known throughout the area. It is large and tall with a sphere on top that at times reflects light from the moon that can be seen for several blocks distance. It is the monument of Hezakiah Pound (1821-1896). Mr. Pound owned much land and was a strong community leader.
Those that lived in the 1700s and 1800s that are buried in Clark Chapel Cemetery have thousands of descendants across the nation and beyond. The last names of those who have graves in the cemetery include: Adamson, Ames, Bailey, Bartle, Beeler, Bission, Blocher, Bradshaw, Brishiber, Campbell, Carter, Coats, Collings, Collins, Cravens, Crum, Curns, Davis, Dean, Denney, Eighman, Faye, Feeler, Finley, Goble, Goodman, Hamilton, Hobson, Hoskins, Howard, Howell, Jackson, Johnson, Kelley, Knowland, Layman, Lindzay, Looney, Mackison, Martin, McGuire, Meadows, Meridith, Murphy, North, Nye, Oakley, Palmer, Perrin, Pound, Powers, Prince, Reed, Richey, Rickerd, Roberts, Rogers, Ross, Roy, Russell, Sample, Smallwood, Stewart, Sutton, Vanmeter, Vanover, Warren, Watts, Weddle, Wilson, Wiseman, Wright, Woodruff, Wyatt and Wray.
Clark Chapel Cemetery is an important part of the community and has continued to be well-maintained through the sale of grave sites, volunteer contributions and volunteer work. However, the management and volunteers are becoming quite senior and maintenance costs have risen. The cemetery management wanted to plan for the future of the cemetery, and so they contacted the Scott County Community Foundation to get an endowment fund established. Having confidence in the Foundation was important in this decision.
A goal of $80,000 has been set to fund the future needs of the cemetery. When this goal is met and funded, it will yield funds to meet the long-term needs. The support of descendents, relatives and anyone interested in the preservation of this historic cemetery is needed.
For more information on available lots, the history of the cemetery and more, write Clark Chapel Cemetery, 6413 S. Bloomington Trail, Underwood, IN 47177, call 752-3636 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tax-deductible contributions can be made payable to the “Clark Chapel Cemetery Fund” at the Scott County Community Foundation, PO Box 25; Scottsburg, IN 47170, or stop in the office at 60 N. Main St., Scottsburg.