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College Campus Unusual Location for Family Cemetery

Like hundreds of citizens nationwide, John Carrico recently placed a small American flag near the tombstone of a deceased U.S. veteran an act of remembrance for many who commemorate Veterans Day each year.

Carrico braved a crisp November morning to drive a golf cart through the scattered Oak and Maple trees to a little known cemetery on a hill in the middle of the West Kentucky Community and Technical College campus.

Its a different story, because I dont think you have a lot of colleges, much less a community college, that has a cemetery on their campus, said Carrico, vice president of administrative services at WKCTC.

The tombstone for U.S. Marine Corps Private Earnest Weatherford is one of 18 markers in the Hayes-Hough Cemetery located behind the baseball field and tennis courts on WKCTCs Paducah campus. The marker says Weatherford was born on July 29, 1908 and died August 1, 1951. Officials believe the cemetery was most likely a family cemetery that had been located originally near a homestead.

College officials have known for a number of years that the cemetery existed in dense woods in the middle of the colleges campus;, but it was not until a few years ago when the woods were thinned and cleared, that interest in the old cemetery was renewed.

Paducah Junior College (PJC), which was founded in 1932, moved from its original 707 Broadway home to what was then called Blandville Road on Paducahs north side in 1964. In 1968, the college became known as Paducah Community College (PCC) after PJC joined the University of Kentuckys community college system in 1968.

By the mid-1970s, college officials expected to either expand into the area where the cemetery lay or sell the property and began an effort to locate family members and gained permission to move graves from the college campus to other cemeteries in Paducah. Kay Travis, executive director of the Paducah Junior College, Inc., said only seven of the graves were actually moved, leaving 18 still on the hill on campus.

PJC, Inc., the foundation for WKCTC, funded the restoration of the cemetery.

Carrico said several of the remaining graves in the cemetery appear to contain infants or children. The names of the majority of the occupants are unknown. The death of date for several of the individuals in the cemetery is from the early 1900s.

Carrico said Mike Lynn, owner of Ohio Valley Monument Company in Paducah, was instrumental in helping the college determine the exact locations of the graves, researching exact names and other needed information. Lynn also donated the marker on the hill that contains the name of the cemetery. What was here had really crumbled away," Carrico said, "but Mike got all the records he could and determined where the plots should be.

Ohio Valley Monument was able to restore two of the original markers and replaced 16 others including a larger monument with the name of Jeremiah Hayes on it. The cemetery is named after the Hayes family as well as the Hough family. The tract of land that included the cemetery was deeded to William J. Hough in 1868.

Today, visitors can clearly view the cemetery from a few nearby benches, not far from the colleges walking trail.

Im really glad we were able to do this and restore this cemetery, Carrico said. Its beautiful up there in the fall. The traffic is going by, but its peaceful. It really is.