Family Research Leads Sisters to Lost Cemetery

by JUDY ALLEN

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Descendants of the Roebucks, assisted by Bob Metzger and crew, cleaned up the Roebuck cemetery near Hugo and had a new sign placed. Pictured, from left, are Julie McElroy, Jan Hay, Tricia Bazzle and Yvonne Amerson.

 

Researching family genealogy for Janice Hay of Kansas and Yvonne Amerson of North Carolina was a great way to learn about their heritage and share with other family members. 

They made trips to Oklahoma and saw sites where their ancestors had once lived. 

The sisters even managed to track down an old family cemetery, a feat that was much more difficult than most people would imagine. 

Off the road, up a hill, in the middle of a cow pasture, the cemetery had lain overgrown for many years and was not visible from the road. 

The two ladies were stopping and knocking on every door and asking if anyone knew of a Native American cemetery in the area. 

The area was west of Hugo, Oklahoma, where people are known for hospitality and friendliness, so the sisters said they were often greeted with, “Come on in,” and everyone was very helpful. 

Finally, a long-time resident was knowledgeable and directed them to rancher Bob Metzger, whose property housed the cemetery. 

“I had cleaned up the cemetery three different times and no one ever came by,” said Metzger. “It was sad to have it there and no visitors.” 

He finally just let it grow up again. Over the years tombstones were damaged, some falling over and trees had fallen or lost limbs. 

There were also a few armadillos who set up residence with holes in the ground for dens. 

There are close to 70 marked graves in the cemetery. 

“When Jan and Yvonne came looking and told me they were family to these people I was thrilled,” said Metzger. “I wanted to get the cemetery cleaned up if they wanted to visit.” 

The sisters said they were interested in cleaning up the cemetery and repairing the stones. 

They decided to spend several days of work at the site. 

Metzger paid his ranch hands and used his farm equipment to fix the fence, move the gate, trim trees, cut the overgrown weeds and grass and help with general clean up. 

The ladies worked on cleanup, repairing grave markers and getting the cemetery up to par. 

An ironwork company in North Carolina donated a new sign to mark the Roebuck family cemetery gate. 

“We are so thankful for Bob and his workers,” said Amerson. Hay added, “We could not have done it without him.”  

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Several men with the Roebuck family visit with rancher Bob Metzger regarding the upkeep of the cemetery.

Biskinik January 2019