Yesterday was a lovely day, in spite of scattered rain showers, or possibly because of them. Richard and I decided to take the Jeep out on the back roads to avoid the heavy traffic on the main arteries from tourists out enjoying the Labor Day weekend. He suggested visiting a small cemetery located about halfway through Burrell’s Ford Road (Forest Service Road 646) off of Highway 28, near Rabun County’s eastern border with South Carolina.
To get to the cemetery, we took Warwoman Road (off of Highway 441) from Clayton, which dead-ends into Highway 28 at Pine Mountain. Take a right toward South Carolina. (Going left will take you through Satolah and into Highlands, NC.) Some distance out, take a left on Burrell’s Ford Road. Exactly four miles from 28, take a left onto an unmarked road, and from there take the first unmarked road on the left. You’ll do fine in just about any normal-clearance vehicle until hitting the last road. Either park at the bottom and walk up (it’s not far, but it is steep and rough), or bring a high-clearance, four-wheel drive vehicle. The cemetery is at the end of the last road.
I know, no one ever believes me when I say to use a high-clearance, four-wheel drive vehicle. The proof is in the pudding, though, right? So, here’s a picture of the last road, just to give you an idea.
We were the only people in there that day. All of those tracks were made by Richard’s Jeep, when he tried (repeatedly over about ten minutes) to get the Jeep up that last section. You can’t tell it from the picture, but it’s a steep three-foot drop where the gravel and the mud meet (at the bottom of the picture). There’s no cell service out that way, either, and few vehicles passing by. If you get stuck, it’s a four-plus mile walk back to Highway 28 on the Rabun County side, or about one mile to the West Fork of the Chattooga River and camp sites on the Oconee County, South Carolina, side of Burrell’s Ford Road. So please, either bring an appropriate vehicle or park and walk up.1
Of course, someone gets up to the cemetery on a regular basis as it’s fairly well-maintained. Someone has taken the time to mow or weed-eat probably twice annually. The artificial flowers were placed probably on or around Memorial Day of this year, as Richard was there just a few weeks before and the graves were undecorated.
A peculiar feature I’ve noticed in some local cemeteries (and a couple not-so-local ones) is the custom of mounding the graves. Every grave in this cemetery, save one possible grave site, had both head- and footstones and was mounded.
The mounds were formed by pulling dirt from the sides of the grave upward into a sharply pointed hill forming troughs in the ground on each side of the grave. Over time, the mounds flatten from rain and erosion. I know at least one cemetery, attached to a church near Scaly Mountain (not far from this cemetery, as the crow flies), where the graves are re-mounded each Decoration Day. The mounds in Harden Cemetery appear not to be maintained as often, but they’re still distinct.
Only seven of the sixteen (possibly seventeen) headstones bore writing. The seventeenth, a free-standing stone, appeared to be a headstone, but there was no accompanying footstone and the grave site, if it was one, had not been mounded.
Sammie E Harden
122 INF 31 DIV
November 30, 1917
William E Hicks
Born Mar 16 1892
Died Aug 20 1922
G Etta H Hicks
Born Feb 17 1895
Died Nov 20 1922
Born Dec 11 1884
Died Aug 11 1885
Born Dec 28 1901
Died Dec 18 1902
Born Nov 17 1888
Died July 24 1911
Bill and Elaine English surveyed this cemetery in 1998 and posted it online in the USGenWeb Archives for Rabun County as the Hicks Cemetery.
Drive safely and happy hunting!
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1. It’s not that I’m lecturing so much as that I don’t want to have to rescue a hapless researcher.