On July 16, 2014 I met Norman Warnell at the Mammoth Cave Hotel. He had offered to show me where the Bransford Cemetery that contained the graves of Henry Bransford and his wife Alice among others was located. I had been curious about the site since reading an account in Joy Medley Lyon’s Book. I had ask around for GPS coordinates, but did not get any numbers. Norman has told me when I came down to email him and he would give me directions. He did much more than that and offered to take me to the cemetery. He wrote of the adventure on Facebook:
“I was at the Bransford Cemetery before the 2009 ice storm and it wasn’t a cake walk then. Today, however, it’s about as difficult as any I’ve been on in MCNP. I gave Ed a “heads up” on what to expect. I wore bibs, denham jacket, and ‘mule hide’ gloves, and sweated like it was 120 degrees. The briars will eat you up. Winter is the only time to make trips like this.
The cemetery is in a deplorable condition. I was standing within five steps of Henry’s grave before I could recognize the headstone through the undergrowth. Like I told Kevin and Michael, a hiker going though those thickets needs…..”a cobra anti-venom kit, machete wielding ‘sherpas’, and for good measure someone carrying a high powered rifle in case a cape buffalo or tiger charges out of the thickets.” “
Edward Frank at Henry Bransford’s grave.
I posted an addendum to his account I will recount here:: “Norman Warnell was a machine pushing through the blackberry thorns, thorny vines, and poison ivy while climbing over a tangled mass of downed trees. (It certainly demonstrated to me the need for me to get into better shape.). I mostly folwed in his path since I was not sure where I was going. He had an approximate location programmed onto his GPS pulled off a map and had been to the cemetery previously. We got down through to the programmed location – often you could not see more than a few yards ahead and out in a a more open area. This wasn’t quite right so we circled around till we came to a place that seemed to look right to him and he went one way. I thought I saw a regular form ahead and I went that way. After a few minutes Norman shouted that he had found some grave markers. I couldn’t see him even thought he was maybe 60 feet away. I went that direction and found him standing over some generally non-nondescript squared off stones above the sunken grave sites. There were a number of stones and graves scattered across the area. Henry Bransford’s gravestone was not ten feet away from the first graves we found, but we could not see it through the brush. We both looked around for other graves, when Norman found Henry’s and Alice’s tombstones. He too some pictures and GPS coordinates. Then back to the road. Our original circling path was not to be found, and was the long way around anyway. We headed back to the road. Norman was in the lead decked out in coverall’s and jacket armor. I had a short sleeved T-shirt on – I didn’t have a long sleeved one with me. We got back to the road after a short time. We were about thirty feet away heading toward some taller trees we knew were growing along the road. I said I think I see the road, then a couple more steps, and no that wasn’t it. Then we were at the road. I grabbed one tick as it crawled on Normans neck. Eventually I found a small one on my leg later that evening. I was surprised that I was not more infested. I had a couple of minor scratches that bled a little, and a maze or smaller ones that were just deep enough to itch, I want to thank him for taking me to the cemetery. I wanted to see it for myself, even if I don’t shoot any video there. Many Thanks to Mr. Warnell.”
I am afraid my photo of Mr. Warnell above was a bit shakey.
It was worth the weed whack so that I could see it for myself.
Edward Forrest Frank