Lone Grave - Location: Ronnie Ables Property, Highway 44 East (N 37 59.3221 W 85 41.9102); Elevation: 443 feet; Date Visited: 10/31/2007; Available Pictures= 7 [Cem #130]
Location: Next to Barger's Lake at the end of South Lakeview Drive in Shepherdsville, Kentucky.
Directions: From the Bullitt County Courthouse take Highway 44 East to South Lakeview Drive. Turn right onto South Lakeview Drive; follow this road all the way to the end to the big parking lot. On the other side of the parking lot you will see a lake, the cemetery is to the right of the lake 100 to 150 yards from the parking lot.
Owner: Ables and Hall Builders: James A. Hall, Dennis Wade Ables, and Ronnie D. Ables (Bullitt County Deed Book 459: Page 664)
Below is an image insert from Google showing the location of this Bullitt County cemetery. You can use the arrows in the upper left corner to move the image, or use the plus and minus signs to zoom in or out. You may also put the cursor on the map and drag the image to where you want it. Click on the marker to get cemetery details.
The story of the Lone Grave is about 161 years old. The gravesite itself dates back 124 years. The first mention of the Lone Grave that we find was published in the Louisville Courier Journal dated May 19, 1885. The story would be told over and over again in countless publications. At this time there is circumstantial documentation that proves the story of the Lone Grave to be true. One of these pieces of documentation would be the former owner of Paroquet Springs, John Colmesnil, who owned the property from 1838 to 1871. John is said to have been one of the people who helped to bury the lady in the Lone Grave. Another piece of evidence is an eye- witness to the story, Judge William R. Thompson of Bullitt County, who was a young man when the story took place. He related the story to newspaper reporter J.R. Zimmerman in 1909. According to the accepted story of the Lone Grave, Charles "Chester" Scott was to wed Alice Buford on May 1, 1847, but lost his life in the Battle of Vera Cruz in the Mexican-American War that took place between March 9, 1847 and March 29, 1847. This fits the time line of the accepted story. I have not been able to locate Alice Buford in the 1840 census records. This is not unusual because she would not be listed unless she was the head of the household. Although on an inspection of the 1840 census there were many Buford families in Mississippi. There is precious little documentation from the early 1800s in Bullitt County and so this makes research of this time period difficult. But, I do feel that the documentation proves the reality of the Lone Grave.
The following is a timeline of ownership of the Paroquet Springs that starts shortly before we believe the Lone Grave came into existence and goes to the present.
Note: Some of the land transactions have been simplified to make them easier to understand for this report.
May 17, 1838 - James Guthrie, lawyer of John Colmesnil, purchased Paroquet Springs in trust for Sarah Colmesnil, wife of John Colmesnil. (Bullitt County, Kentucky Deed Book I: 108 & 109)
April 28, 1871 - Richard H. Field, lawyer for John Colmesnil, acting on behalf of Sarah Colmesnil, wife of John Colmesnil, sold land to the Paroquet Springs Company. (Bullitt County, Kentucky Deed Book S: 504 thru 506
October 20, 1879 - Paroquet Springs Company sales land to Charles C. Hoke. (Bullitt County, Kentucky Deed Book W: 347 & 348))
February 3, 1880 - Charles C. Hoke sales land to Thornton B. Curry. (Bullitt County, Kentucky Deed Book X: 103 & 104)
December 8, 1885 - Thornton B. Curry's heirs sale land to George W. Simmons. (Bullitt County, Kentucky Deed Book Z: 503 thru 505)
February 16, 1916 - George W. Simmons dies
February 12, 1925 - Burilla Simmons, wife of George Simmons, dies
April 16, 1925 - By court order the land belonging to Burilla Simmons is divided among her children. The Paroquet Tract Lot 1 went to her son, S.B. Simmons. (Bullitt County, Kentucky Deed Book 51:204 & 205)
July 5, 1931 - S.B. Simmons dies
July 15, 1931 - S.B. Simmons wills this land to his wife, Etta D. Simmons, but also states in his will that land should be divided between his sons-in-law, James Farris and Val Strahan Jr., and Delores Settle upon his wife's death. (Bullitt County, Kentucky Will Book K: 176 & 177)
September 23, 1951- Etta D. Simmons dies
May 5, 1952 - Dolores "Simmons" McAfee and her husband, Ward, sale land to Carmen Strahan and her son, Val Strahan Jr. (Bullitt County, Kentucky Deed Book 79: 588 thru 589)
March 10, 1964 - Carmen Strahan, daughter of Etta D. Simmons dies
June 28, 1965 - Carmen wills her part interest in this land to her husband, Val Strahan Sr. (Bullitt County, Kentucky Will Book N: 419)
May 18, 1971 - Val Strahan Jr. dies
July 28, 1971 - Val Strahan Jr. wills land to his father, Val Strahan Sr. (Bullitt County, Kentucky Will Book N: 443)
October 1, 1973 - Val Strahan Sr. sales land to Fubar Inc. (Bullitt County, Kentucky Deed Book 172:216 thru 218)
June 9, 1998 - Fubar Inc. sales land to Ables and Hall Builders. (Bullitt County, Kentucky Deed Book 459:664 thru 666)
The following are the different stories of the Lone Grave in Chronological order.
May 19, 1885 - The first mention we find of the Lone Grave is in The Courier-Journal. The location is described and it is said that Captain Colmesnil, son of the former owner who buried the lady there, is in Kentucky to see his lawyer.
July 31, 1887 - This story also comes from The Courier-Journal. The following is an excerpt from that article:
"Favorite walk is to Lone Grave a few hundred yards from the house. Story is that half century ago the owner of Paroquet had a lovely daughter who met a Kentuckian, fell for him, then went home to far South and married another man. Then she died and her last wish was to be buried in a nameless grave shaded by tree that had sheltered the lovers on hill at Paroquet, so brought her body back. No stone marks spot; just an iron fence. Not many days ago we met Capt. Heady who in 1846 helped lay the broken heart in the lone grave."
February 7, 1909 - The story was related to J.R. Zimmerman, a newspaper reporter, by Judge William R. Thompson. It also appeared in The Courier-Journal and is also available on another page.
"A visit to Paroquet Springs is not complete unless the visitor goes to the "Lone Grave," a romantic spot on the east side of the grove. The history of the lone mound hidden away among the trees and covered with its green mantle of ivy is pathetic and tragic. The writer heard the story from Judge William R. Thompson, who was a young man when the affair occurred, and who died in 1894. It is short and simple and will bear telling.
In 1834 a young man came from New York to the springs to spend the summer and soon after his arrival was introduced to a young woman from Mississippi, who was there with her widowed mother to spend the season. The couple seemed to have been fashioned by fate for each other. They were young, wealthy, and of aristocratic lineage, both were highly educated and gifted in music and conversation. She was a typical Southern beauty of the brunette type, of majestic figure, and her suitors were legion. He was handsome, of fine athletic form, and a social lion. It seemed to be a case of love at first sight. They became constant and inseparable companions. In the ballroom, on the river, at the musicales, or strolling beneath the boughs of the great trees, they were together unmindful of all else. Persistently and ardently he pressed his suit through the fleeting summer hours, and before the summer had waned he had won her heart.
In the fall they separated, but with the understanding that in the early winter he was to make her his wife, and take her to his Eastern home. Believing in his love and manhood, she went back to her Southern home and waited for him, but he never came, and at last, broken-hearted and disgraced, she died, after exacting from her faithful and grief-stricken old mother a promise that her body should be brought back to Paroquet Springs and buried beneath the tree under which she first met her unfaithful lover. True to her promise, her mother had the body of her unfortunate daughter conveyed to Paroquet and laid away where her last and happiest summer had been spent; and there she sleeps today beneath the mighty monarchs of the forest that keep their ceaseless vigils above her lonely tomb.
The iron fence which surrounds the grave was placed there when the grave was made about seventy-four years ago and has never been painted or cared for; but time has spared it from the touch of his destroying hand, and it is almost as good today as in 1835, when it was placed there by the faithful mother to guard the grave of her child. No message ever came back from the mother, and as time passed on the name of the unfortunate girl was forgotten. No stone is there to tell her name; but from sire to son and mother to daughter he sad story has been handed down. Nor does the story contain the name of the man who wrecked the poor girl's life."
1912 - This story first appeared in the Bullitt County Fair program book dated 1912, author unknown. We have, at the Bullitt County History Museum, a hand written version of this story that at the top says: "A true story by one who knows"
"In an isolated spot near the limits of Paroquet Grove, near Shepherdsville, on the bank of Salt River, there is a small iron fence, an antiquated beech tree, and a growth of myrtle that reviewed the passer-by of the sad and tragic end of a young society belle of the Southland whose presence added to the gaiety of the throng of pleasure seekers who flocked to Paroquet Spring more than a half century ago.
She died of a broken heart, in the full bloom of sweet woman-hood about the year 1848 and at her request, made on her dying bed, her remains were conveyed from her home in Mississippi and interred in Paroquet Grove, where the happiest moments of her life were spent two years before in the daily companionship of a young man whom she is supposed to have first met at Paroquet Hotel, during the summer of 1846, and to whom she was subsequently engaged to be married.
Shortly after her engagement, he lover became a soldier in the Mexican War, from which he never returned, and it was claimed that he was slain on the field of carnage in the battle of Vera Cruz, which occurred March 29, 1847.
The bier wherein repose the remains of the young lady, and over which have whistled the bleak winds of more than sixty winters is known as the "Lone Grave" and its history, as near as can be ascertained, is, about as follows.
Sixty years ago where Paroquet Springs was in the zenith of its glory as a fashionable watering place, and it's fame was circumscribed only by the limits of civilization, there came from the south, somewhere in Mississippi, a beautiful and accomplished young lady to spend the summer season at Paroquet; she was dark-eyed and pretty, and her graceful form and angelic manners as she glided along the balconies of the hotel were magnets that drew all eyes towards her.
Her father was very wealthy, owning a large plantation and it was her custom every summer to hie herself away from the scorched pine barrens of her native state and betake herself to the cool and healthful resort of the North but this time she concluded to spend the heated term at Paroquet Springs on the bank of the historic Salt River and it was here that the god of fate set the die that hurled her into an untimely end with a broken heart.
At the same time there also came a young man of high standing and education and he too registered at Paraquet Hotel for the summer. He was brave and handsome and his home was in Virginia. After remaining at the hotel for a short while it was his good fortune to become acquainted with the young lady from Mississippi whom he showed many favors and much attention. She was of a sweet sunny disposition and her bright glances and sweet smiles soon won his heart. The acquaintance soon grew into respect and adoration. They spent much of the time together in the grove beneath the cooling shade trees and so mutual was their love that they seemed not to care for the company of others.
As the sweet summer zephyrs were about to give way to the chilling blast from the frigid north, they realized that the cruel hand of fate would soon cause their separation, and, strolling out into the grove, they seated themselves in their grapevine swing, side by side and made their arrangements for the bright and promising future, when by the holy bonds of wedlock they should be man and wife.
They soon reached an understanding by which they were to be married the following spring and their plan was to spend the honeymoon where they first loved each other. Paroquet to them was the sweetest spot on earth, and they longed for the time when they could return as man and wife and again occupy their old seat in the swing beneath the massive beech.
On the following day (Sept the 15, 1846) the hotel closed for the season and amid deep sobs and bitter anguish they bade one another an affectionate good-bye and proceeded on their journeys to their far-away homes.
According to their plans this separation was to have been brief but in pursuance of the plans of the most high, they were then and there separated forever. After arriving at their homes, a daily interchange of communications took place, each expressing in burning words of love, their devotion and fidelity to the other. She relied implicitly in his truthfulness and honor, while he entertained no doubt as to her love and devotion.
The wedding day was set for May 1, 1847 and during that winter she began to prepare for the occasion. The ceremony was to have been preformed with great pomp and splendor and the bride and groom were to start immediately for Paroquet Spring where they had planned to spend the sultry months of summer.
But the god of fate in his cruel wisdom interfered with their plans and decreed that their happy anticipation should culminate in despair by inspiring the young man with the love of battle, when he took up arms for his country's sake, unmindful of what the future may bring and with the gallantry of a hero and chivalry of a patriot turned his face toward the setting sun and made his way to the plains of Mexico where, in the bloom of his youth and in the vigor of manhood he fought, bled and died and left his bones bleaching on the shifting sand hills in the vicinity of Vera Cruz.
Although encumbered with the arduous duties of a soldier, it was his custom to write letters to the object of his solicitude at every opportunity and she replied to his message with great promptness and frenzied enthusiasm.
But Alas! He wrote no more! Her daily visits to the post-office became fruitless and exasperating.
She feared the worse, but still had hope until the close of the war, where the soldiers, returning to their homes informed her that her lover had lost his life on the field of carnage, a leaden bullet having pierced his heart and he was left rotting in the chaparral thicket of Vera Cruz.
When these sad tidings reached her she wept bitterly, and her anguish was great and incessant. Her health began to decline apace and in a few short months the glow of her cheeks was gone, her complexion had become swarthy, and her bright eyes had become pale. She was soon a physical wreck languishing between life and death. Fully realizing that her days on earth were few, she called her parents to her bedside and with faint voice earnestly requested that after her death, which she and they knew well would not be long postponed, her remains be conveyed to Paraquet Grove and buried without ceremony, in the lovely spot by the old beech tree, where, but few months before, she and her lover had sat together in their swing, and where her future life was pledged to the young man brave and true.
She also requested that her grave be protected by a simple iron fence, but that no monument be erected to hand down from our generation to another the tragic story of her fatal courtship. All these requests were carried out to the letter and to this day, the Lone Grave with its rusty iron fence remains intact and is a source of interest to large numbers of people who visit the springs each summer.
No monument stands to tell the sad story or any part of it, but the old beech which stood near by had engraved on its bark the following:
The beech tree, which was standing two years ago, is now decayed, and the above inscription is not now legible. The name of the unfortunate young lady whose bones lie moldering in the grave near by is not known here, nor the name of the young man whose bones lie bleaching on the plains of Mexico! Yet it is reasonably certain that the crude letters on the beech tree tell the true names of these unfortunate young people and that "Sept 14-1846" was the day they separated with bright hopes for the future, but never met again this side of the great unknown."
September 23, 1936 - The story of the Lone Grave appears in The Courier-Journal written by Hewitt Taylor. The only major difference in this story is that Charles "Chester" Scott was from Massachusetts.
September 2, 1949 - The Lone Grave story appears in The Pioneer News in an article titled "Who was Who in Bullitt County 100 years ago U.S. Census 1850". This story appears to be taken from the 1912 version with the exception that the story mentions that Chester was possibly from Massachusetts.
1974 - The Bullitt Historical Commission publishes a book called "A History of Bullitt County" and in this book they tell the story of the lone grave. The first version they give is a shorten version of the 1912 story of the Lone Grave. The second version is totally different.
Through research another account for the lone grave has emerged. Mary Lucy Pocohontas Bibb resided in the city of Frankfort, Kentucky. She met and fell in love with a gentleman while spending the season at the hotel. At the close of the season they had a lover's quarrel and parted forever. Each eventually marrying someone else. Not long afterward Mary began to suffer and eventually died. Before passing, she extracted a promise from her sister that she would be buried at Paroquet, where she had spent the happiest time of her life.
May 5, 1977 - The story of the Lone Grave was once again published in Mount Washington Star in an article entitled "Joan June's Past Adventures Paroquet Springs" The story is once again a shorten version of the 1912 story.
November -December 1977 - The Story of The Lone Grave appears in an article in the In Kentucky Magazine. The article is entitled "Paroquet Springs Spa of the South" by Rickie Zayne Ashby and Charles T. Crume Jr. The article just gives the story in a brief one-sentence mention.
December 1989 - The 1912 version is published in The Wilderness Road, the Bullitt County Genealogical Society Quarterly.
The Story of the Lone Grave has been published in many more publications than are documented here. The Lone Grave is a very important part of the history of Bullitt County. It is the wish of the Bullitt County Genealogical Society Cemetery Committee that this site be preserved. This site is at least 124 years old and perhaps as old as 174 years. This is a story that has been told for over hundred years has resonated in the hearts and minds of the folks of Bullitt County.
1991 - Historian Carolyn French fights to get Lone Grave declared a historical site.
In 1991 Bullitt County historian Carolyn French fought to get the Lone Grave declared a historical site. Carolyn presented her case to the Shepherdsville City Council, Ephraim Lawrence, owner of Fubar Inc. and the property where the Lone Grave is located, and the Kentucky Tourism Cabinet. At the time Carolyn would be able to get funding from the state if she could come up with matching funds to buy the property and turn it into a park. The owner was interested in preserving the Lone Grave, but not putting in a park. The city did not have the funds to help and so she was never able to accomplish her goal.
The following story is an award wining fictional version of the Lone Grave story written by Carolyn French.
The Story of the Lone Grave
By Carolyn French 1991
Reprinted with Permission from Carolyn French
Alice and Chester embraced under the Beech trees near the bank of the flowing Salt River. A sweltering sun was beginning its westerly decent as they made their way back to the hotel.
Alice had been busy throughout the day trying to decide what to wear on this last night before she and Chester would part.
Exhausted, she decided to lie down for a short nap now that her ball gown had been taken to be pressed by her servant, and life-long friendóGracie. Although it was Gracie who first suggested the idea of a nap; now that Alice was alone, she felt the need for a brief rest on this sultry, September afternoon. She placed herself wearily on the satin coverlet of the comfortable four-poster bed. The bed took a major portion of her elegantly decorated room in The Paroquet Springs Hotel. She slept deeply.
Her father, a Mississippian of great wealth, had made sure her room faced the north, so as to shield her from the drawing heat of the afternoons.
The mineral springs had helped her to gain strength after a short -bout with a draining illness.
Although her parents had in years past sent Alice north for the summer, where the climate was more comfortable, her recent illness, and the suggestion from a business associate of her father concerning the healing qualities of the Springs, helped him decide to send her to Shepherdsville, Kentucky, for the summer months of 1846.
As she dozed in the quietness, she relived the "special" times of the past few months. The day Alice met Chester had been full of uncertain intrigue. Gracie had just returned from the stables to let Alice know the horse she had asked to ride was saddled and ready. Alice had chosen to wear a pastel-shaded dress with eyelet- frocked sleeves.
When she gained entrance to the stable door, she was somewhat taken aback when she noticed a very handsome young man leading a gallant black stallion from a stall.
With his back to her, giving total attention to his steed, he walked toward the rear of the barn, mounted the great horse and rode away.
Alice had not realized she was staring until Gracie faced her eye-to-eye, blocking the view of the shadowy rear door of the barn. A stable hand helped Alice to mount the beautiful chestnut filly side-saddled and placed the reins within her white-gloved palm.
She decided the feelings awakened but moments ago were newó different, and as she liked complete control, threw them from her mind and sent the horse off in a canter in the opposite direction the young man had taken.
The evening of that first day brought with it a glorious sunset. Viewed from the ornate balcony, which encased the whole of the second floor, she could see for miles toward the west to the lengthy ridge in the distance.
She had had a delicious meal, already knowing her father had once more made the right choice in sending her here. They were very close as a family. Although her mother at first protested sending her to the Springs, wishing her instead to return to the north near her aunt and uncle, the battle of wills had been won in a gentle manner, as usual, by her father.
The young girl was gazing into the sunset and suddenly felt a combined chill and warmth spread over her shoulders. She moved to catch the crocheted shawl higher upon her arms, when out of the corner of her right eye she caught sight of the young man she'd seen earlier in the day with the black stallion. His eyes were directed toward the hills in the distance.
Alice again fixed her eyes upon his face much more in focus now with the radiant sun's rays cast full on him. For some reason it seemed fate was pushing them closer.
Suddenly Gracie's voice came from over her shoulders, breaking her intransient gaze. She turned to ask politely for Gracie to repeat herself once more. Gracie asked if Alice would be needing her anymore for the night. Alice assured Gracie that she would be fine and thought she caught a glimmer in her young friend's eyes as she rounded to leave.
She must remember to ask Gracie tomorrow what the hint of glimmer in her eyes had meant. Gracie, try as she might, could never keep secrets from Alice. Alice was glad their relationship was as it had been and became very bothered by the notion that Gracie's people were yet ridiculed and treated so harshly.
Putting those thoughts away, Alice looked once again to where the young man had stood. The spot was now empty and she felt a loss she could not explain. She walked graciously along the railing looking to the west again. The sun's rays, now visibly sinking behind the ridge, were replaced by the dancing tops of the Beeches, swaying soundlessly in a gentle warm breeze.
Alice heard a shuffle of footsteps and moved closer to the rail as a couple moved past arm-in-arm, barely floating as they held each other's eyes.
When they had moved on she noticed someone leaning against the wall. It was the young man. He too had followed the movement of the couple as they passed and now his gaze lifted meeting Alice's eyes. He moved toward her in an instant and her heart stopped beating for a brief moment. He held out his hand, picked up her small right hand and lifted it to his lips.
She thought she would faint from the feelings which had but in a moment's time flowed through her, melting her.
Chester Scott--he introduced himself--from Virginia. She at once curtseyed and took her hand shyly from his. She politely voiced her nameóAlice Buford, and from the moment on they fell deeper in love.
The days and nights had been filled with dancing, walks and relaxation in the swing he'd made for her among the Beeches near the hotel grounds.
Gracie, too, had found love with the stable hand who had helped them on their first day at the Springs. Alice and Chester held very high standards and had great respect for each other.
Their love was pure and decent, and among the Beeches they made plans to come again to the Springs for their honeymoon.
Although they had made plans to be married the next year, they had this summer been made one by their undying love one held for the other. On one of their last days together Chester carved their names in the great Beech tree in the grove.
Aroused by a noise in the room, Alice quickly sat up in the bed. Gracie turned and made apologies for having disturbed her slumber. But Alice knew it was getting close to sunset and told Gracie to forget such nonsense as apologies.
They had seemed to grow apart in the past few months, and Alice knew why. They were putting their childhood to memory and becoming women. Their discussions included plans of marriage and families of their own. Of breaking ties with those back home and how it would affect themóthis summer of love.
As Alice dressed and made her way around the room in preparation for the last grand ball of the season, she could not keep herself from feeling the heavy sadness deep within her being.
It would be many months before she and Chester would see each other. She was determined to make this night perfect for them. A night to be cherished forever.
The ball was grander than she could have imagined to have made it. They danced arm-in-arm throughout the night which ended for the two lovers with a walk to "their" tree. They made a promise to remember their vows to each other and kissed unashamedly before they at last did part.
Chester walked Alice to her room and left her with Gracie, who held her while she sobbed into the early morning hours.
Alice and Gracie departed at mid-day on their long journey back home. Gracie and her true love had also made plans to come together to marry at his home church next year near the Springs.
Alice and Chester kept in touch closely and made plans for the first ball at The Paroquet Springs next year to be the reception following their wedding.
After a time, Chester wrote of the impending Spanish Civil War about to erupt and of his loyalty to his comrades. His letters came infrequently and then not at all. Alice worried and began to feel her health waning. After the war ended some of Chester's comrades made their way back to Alice and verbalized her worst fears,
Chester had died bravely in battle, his bones now bleaching in the sun, months later in some vast expanse of gritty sand in Mexico.
Alice's health now rapidly left her, and on her deathbed, she made her grieving parents promise that she would be buried beneath the Beeches at The Paroquet Springs in Shepherdsville, Kentucky.
Her unkempt grave can still be viewed in a field near the banks of the Salt River. The hotel, as if knowing its fate also, burned in the early 1900's.
For a short time before its demise, it was used as apartments. Few of those persons who lived there knew of the beautifully true, yet tragic love story surrounding the old building.
Much construction has gone on around the area and Chester and Alice's old Beech tree fell to disease long ago, but Paroquet Springs lives on through a shopping center named after it. And near the sight of the grand old hotel, another hotel has been erected.
Who is to say that history will not someday, sometime, repeat itself once again. Remember, Alice and Chester vowed to each other "love will go on forever...
2007 - The Lone Grave damaged
On October 31, 2007 the Bullitt County Genealogical Society Cemetery Committee visited the Lone Grave site and found that the fence surrounding the grave had been damaged. The fence had accidentally been damaged during the process of clearing the site so that it could be developed. This was reported in the November 5, 2007 edition of The Pioneer News. The owner was contacted and graciously agreed to pay to have the fence repaired. Phil Fortwengler forged a new fence and the fence was put up on April 17, 2009. Those present to help install the fence were Kenny Fortwengler, Kevin Taylor, Nathan Fortwengler, Carletta Fortwengler, Phil Fortwengler, who made the fence by hand; David Strange and Daniel Buxton.
The Daughter of John Colmisnil
Alice Buford Died: Between 1835 and 1848
Mary Lucy Pocohontas Bibb