Transcribed with comments by Benjamin D. Buckner, April 3, 1993, from notes taken by A. Marie Buckner in the summer of 1986. (Revised 2010 from a revisit.)
The Bethel Cemetery is located on State Route 2 out of Olive Hill, KY, north of I 64 between Smokey Valley and Wesleyville. The section containing the Buckner gravesite lies at the far left of the cemetery to an observer facing from the road. There is a large marker reading "Buckner" to indicate the section, but some of the individual markers are broken, unmarked, or illegible. The Christian Church, ded. 1866 and rebuilt 1948, stands by the cemetery on land sold to the church by Overton M. Buckner on Dec. 23, 1866 for $1 (see Rowan Co., KY deeds, book D, pg. 160, in which the graveyard is expressly included, suggesting its prior existence.) Both the church and cemetery are plainly visible from the two-lane highway.
I have tried to reproduce the inscriptions as accurately as possible, but faded lettering and rough notes may have introduced a few transcription errors. My comments are enclosed in square brackets [thus].
William Buckner Eliza J. Buckner died Sept. 13, 1884 Sept. 30, 1839 aged 47 yrs, 8 mo 20 days Feb. 5, 1920 [As of 2010 intact "Asleep in Jesus but obscured by an blessed sleep overgrown potted plant.] From which none ever wake to weep" [Broken in half as of 2010] J.W. Buckner Rebecca L. Buckner June 22, 1858 1856 - 1941 Feb. 22, 1930 "In Gods care." "A friend to his country and a believer in Christ." Wesley son of Eliza E. Buckner O M and E Buckner Dec. 30, 1873 age 26 July 26, 1984 "In life beloved and in death." [As of 2010, the stone has collapsed and is mostly illegible.] [Top missing] [The stone listed to the left almost 1813 - 1875 certainly belongs to Elizabeth (Fultz) "My many vertues form the Buckner, mother of Wesley (above).] noblest monument to her memory." [As of 2010, all remnants seem to be gone except the pediment] Wiley Buckner 1897 - 1955 [son of John and Rebecca]
There is also a plain unworked stone marker in association with these. It's definitely not Overton Buckner or Patrick Buckner, who both died elsewhere, but the high death rate at the Buffalo Creek property makes it impossible to guess who this might be. George Buckner (Overton's brother) is high on the list, but Andrew Lafayette and Elizabeth (Overton's children) also apparently died there, along with Elizabeth Gillum Buckner (Overton's mother). Wesley Buckner is probably John Wesley, who would have died around 1866, making it the oldest marked tombstone. One can presume that the plain stone marker is an even older grave. I would guess that there are probably a few more there that are now completely unmarked.
I went back to take some photos on Oct 23rd, 2010, and the marble stones had deteriorated significantly. Both Wesley and Elizabeth Buckner's stones are essentially destroyed. I didn't see Wiley or Eliza E.'s, but I don't remember where they were so I'm not sure if they're still there or not. There's a row of stones across the top of the ridge that's been severely damaged. I sort of suspect a massive mowing accident from the way a whole row seems to be wiped out. William's stone is in very good shape, but there's a giant potted plant right in front of it. It seems to be protecting the stone from erosion, but the roots are probably going to become an issue at some point.
-- Ben Buckner