Old Willow Springs Southern Methodist Church and Cemetery


by Bonnie P. Wesley (circa 1976)


The land for Old Willow Springs Methodist Church and Cemetery [on Poplar Hill, Casey County,

Kentucky] was acquired from J.V. Martin about 150 years ago [in the 1820’s (?)]. It was from the

farm now belonging to Osbie Watson [in 1976]. A log church was built on the two-acre tract.

Mr. Everett Cain (age 85) remembered attending a funeral in the log church when he was a small boy.


It was probably named Willow Springs because of the numerous willows growing near and the many

springs flowing, furnishing water for homes and cattle,… springs are plentiful in the entire community.


Many graves are marked with homemade markers, or moss-covered stones. Many markers have old

English spelling. Too, there are monuments of Monument Companies of 1800’s. Some early epitaphs

of interest were:



D.H. Ellison, Born 1847, Died 1861


“Wee miss our loved ones / Though wee hope to / meet the agane / God bless our dead friends.”




Susanar Ellison, Born 1801, Died July 13, 1888


“Our good old grandma is / gone from us and almost forgotten / wee hope she is at rest.”




Wesley, Rebecca, Nov. 4, 1861 - Nov. 10, 1881 ( D. of R.T. & Sarah J. )


“weep not Father & Mother for me. / For I am waiting in glory for thee.”


The oldest marker with a date is of Sam H. McAninch, born Jan. 26, 1822, died July 13, 1839 [son

of George A. McAninch and Elizabeth (Ross) McAninch]. That would make the cemetery known to

be 137 years old [in 1976; over 150 today], but many graves are marked only by moss-covered stones.


Around 1890 the members of the church discussed buying a larger tract of ground for a new church

and more space for a cemetery. It was an important project; too, some wanted to stay, as is the case in

all decisions of this nature. The time came for a vote. An open Bible was placed in front of the altar in

which the members placed their yes and no votes. When the votes were counted, there were more yes

votes. It was a sad time for some of the members.


Two members of the church board were J.T. Deboard and James Richardson. They and a third

member asked to buy some land from George Alfred Hogue and wife Martha Ann Singleton Hogue.

The land was donated by the Hogues and the moving of the log church began. The sills were used in

the new building and are still in good condition today. Some reach the full length of the church.


J.T. Deboard bought the Old Willow Springs Methodist Cemetery from Southern Methodist Conference for $5.00. It was to be left on his deed. Any person could still bury their deceased loved ones in the cemetery. It has been used over the years. The deed where the old log church stood now belongs to Osbie and Patty Morgan Watson [1976]. The grounds are kept mowed and the mowing bill is paid by members of New Willow Springs Methodist Church. Many visitors come from a distance each year to visit where friends and loved ones are buried.


Alice Pitts ... came in 1972 to visit and copy names for future records and family tree. The last burial

was of Henry Copley on October 18, 1961. J.B. Carmicle’s “Bowin’s” twins were moved from the Old

Willow Cemetery to the new, before 1896. [Names] Reported by the late Alice Pitts (1972) [include]


Brown, Butt, Carrier, Clemens, Copley, Ellison, French or Ford, Godbey, Harris, Huff, Lawhorn,

Martin, McAninch [Sam H., 1822-1839 (S. of G. & E.); N. Jane, 1847-1872; and Z.S., 1855-1858]; Patten, Phelps, Putteet, Richardson, Sloan, Tarter, Taylor, Wesley, Wilson, and Wheeler.


From the book Casey County, Kentucky, 1806-1983, A Folk History, Including Communities and

Cemeteries (Revised), Compiled and Edited by Gladys Cotham Thomas, published by Bicentennial

Heritage Corporation, Casey County, Kentucky, 1976, Revised 1983; pages 163-165


McAninch Family History Newsletter   Vol. IV, No. 2, May 1996, pg. 7     page 1996-19


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