By Gary Kenworthy
Few people know of its whereabouts in northwest Citrus County, but there exists a small plot known as the ‘Goodsen Family Cemetery’ there.
It’s been neglected for so long, it’s almost impossible to find if you don’t know exactly where to look. If you happen to stumble upon it, you’ll notice a natural arch created by two live oak trees at the entrance. They’re mostly covered with moss, ivy, and wild flowering jasmine now, but the arch is unmistakable.
At first glance, you’ll see how it’s formed, graceful, and majestic by the trees themselves, and realize only God, or nature could have done that. With little more than ten feet between their trunks, the trees have stood guard over the graves for centuries.
The ivy and flowering jasmine complimented the arch as the trees grew taller, leaving a fragrant walkway wide enough for visitors to enter hand in hand.
If you look closely, you’ll see remnants of an old log chain that once surrounded the cemetery. It was held in place suspended through rings in small, cast-iron horse heads mounted on iron pipes that were driven into the ground. There were several placed around the perimeter to form a fence of sorts.
The headstones date as far back as 1804, when Margaret was born. She was the matriarch of the family. Hers was the largest and most ornate of the group. She died at the age of eighty-four in 1888. She outlived them all.
Her husband, Hardy Luther Goodsen, died in 1879.
One of Margaret’s sons died in 1871. He had two headstones. The original had been broken in two. It’s impossible to know whether it was an act of nature or by vandals, but broken it was. A new, granite headstone stands in its place, with the pieces of the old one leaning against its base.
The headstone reads:
SILAS H GOODSEN
5 FL INF
NOV 4 1839
JULY 1 1871
Research revealed the new headstone was provided by the ‘Daughters of the Confederacy’ some years ago. It seems Silas may have been wounded during the Civil War, and the ladies were paying posthumous tribute to the fallen soldier.
The last tombstone was that of what appears to be a grandchild. It’s difficult to make out a name, but you can tell the baby died on the same day he or she was born in 1880.
History doesn’t tell us whether the family moved on or died out. Nor do we know how long it’s been since the family plot has been maintained.
The mystery lingers. Who, or what, maintains the arch?
Gary, a Vietnam combat veteran, got his start writing by penning a letter to the editor of a national trade magazine. That chance letter led to him being one of three featured writers, with a monthly column in that trade publication for years.
Since retiring from the corporate world, he’s expanding his craft into fiction and short stories, several under pen names, occasionally appearing in various publications. One of which is titled The Greatest Softball Game by K G Wauthier. Available in all major bookstores, including Amazon, it’s a steamy story about a fractured family that healed during a softball game.