McCourtney Graveyard

Established ca. 1850

Restoration Project

1996 -

animation by Michael Metcalf

We are working on the restoration of a 19th and early 20th century graveyard. As you will find elsewhere in this website, we have been working on the archaeology and restoration of a 19th century stagecoach stop in Waynesville. LEAP has been workng on that project since 1989. The graveyard project is related to the Old Stagecoach Stop project.

From our research, we learned that W. W. McDonald, the builder of the OSS, left the Waynesville area in 1880 and moved to the southeastern corner of Pulaski County. His first wife, Mary Jane McCourtney (McCortney) McDonald, had died in 1878 and he began life anew as a farmer and with a new wife, Lydia Jane Page Sneed McDonald. His new farm was across the river from the mouth of McCourtney Hollow, named for Mary Jane's family and probably the place that W. W. first came to in Pulaski County in the early 1850's. At that time, he had a Bounty Land Warrant earned with his service with the Missouri Mounted Rifles in the Mexican War, under the command of Sterling Price. McDonald was in Captain John Dent's company. John Dent was the brother of Julia Dent Grant, wife of U. S. Grant.The McCourtneys and McDonalds all came to Pulaski County from St. Louis County from an area near the Dent home.

Not long after we had discovered this information about W. W., we heard about a long abandoned and hard to get to graveyard near McDonald's farm. Although we knew where W. W. McDonald was buried (across the river at the Hopewell Cemetery in Big Piney), we had never found Mary Jane's grave. We thought this might be the place.

The graveyard is not easy to get to. After a 45 minute bus ride from school, we have a 3/4 of a mile hike to get down into the floodplain of the Big Piney River near McDonald Ford. That hike usually means walking through or past a herd of cattle and all that they leave behind.

After each trip, we have made an entry about the day's work. This is our diary or timeline of our graveyard project. We will add to it with each trip. If you have a grave interest in such matters, resurrect this site periodically. We promise, no more graveyard puns. We will be dead serious.

For a List of Markers in the graveyard, click here.