Plotting the past: Casey native compiles info on pioneer burials in Lincoln and Casey county
W.E. Rubarts of Lexington is author of research materials for genealogists looking for early ancestors born before 1800 in Casey and Lincoln counties and Cravens Cemetery in Southern Casey County and its ties with Fort Boonesborough. (Submitted / March 10, 2011)
W.E. Rubarts, who grew up in Dunnville and currently lives in Lexington, keeps close ties with his birthplace. He has compiled a book about his Coffey, Cravens, Shaw and Ripperdan ancestors — a history of the Cravens Cemetery in Southern Casey County that has ties to Fort Boonesborough, early Kentucky and Virginia. It also lists names of pioneers buried in Casey and Lincoln cemeteries and maps, with locations plotted in a regional map.
After Rubarts and his family were accepted into the Society of Boonesborough, he decided to expand his research to include other family surnames in cemeteries in Casey and Lincoln counties to determine if they have ancestral ties to Fort Boonesborough or other early forts.
He also reviewed 244 cemeteries and family plots in Casey County and decided to include his ancestors from before 1800, and prior to the Civil War. He was able to find a number of anchestors born before the Civil War. Current emphasis has been on locating more of the pre-1800 group.
A search of Lincoln County’s early burial grounds show 258 people born prior to 1800 are buried throughout the county, compared to 92 in Casey.
Several Revolutionary War veterans listed settled in this area, including Christopher Riffe (1764-1850), who came from Virginia in 1784 to settle in Northern Casey County. Riffe acquired 800 acres (1780 Land Survey) on Green River from Abraham Lincoln, grandfather of President Abraham Lincoln.
Riffe was accompanied by his uncle Col. William Casey (1754-1816), who was the great-grandfather of Samuel Clemens, the novelist known as “Mark Twain.” Col. Casey later moved to Green County where he died in 1816 after he built a brick house, which currently houses an antique business.
Revolutionary War veterans Ambrose Coffey and Jesse Coffe (Coffey), came in 1780 to Kentucky and lived at Boonesborough for a time. They and their descendants emigrated to Casey, Adair and Russell counties.
Cravens Cemetery in Southern Casey County is about 155 years old and has 40 identified grave sites and another 25 unidentified sites. The earliest date of death is Jeremiah Cravens, born in England in 1750, and died between 1825-1830. His wife Nancy McDonald Cravens was born in Ireland, and died between 1835-1840. Jeremiah's son, Ira Russell Cravens Sr., and his wife, Sarah Shaw Cravens; grandson, Ira R. Jr., and his wife are buried there. Ira Jr. deeded the cemetery in 1907 to Casey County, Ky., and the general public upon his wife' s death.
Rubarts said Cravens Cemetery is unique and an interesting historical entity. It’s the burial site of five intertwined pioneer families, members of which lived in the first permanent settlement in Kentucky, Fort Boonesborough.
Thomas Shaw (1775-1849) and his wife, Catherine Ripperdan Shaw, came from Virginia to Mercer County. She was a daughter of Revolutionary War veteran Frederick (1749-1829) and Sarah Chiticks Ripperdan (1746-1838) of Virginia. They lived in Fort Boonesborough before moving to Mercer County. Their original home and family burial grounds, a few miles west of Danville, pays honor to their heritage, and a plaque embedded at the Boyle County courthouse references Frederick's military service.
Rubarts wants to publish information on pioneer burial sites in Boyle and Mercer counties and encourages others to gather information about pioneer burial sites of early settlements in addition to Logan’s Fort and Fort Harrod.
Rubarts’ book and supplemental CD (for copy) have been placed in libraries and historical societies in 10 counties that border Casey and Lincoln counties, Kentucky Historical Society and Eastern Kentucky University.