Wednesday, 10 September 2014 15:20

Branier Cemetery, Jackson Twp., Sullivan County, Indiana

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Branier Cemetery
Jackson Twp., Sullivan County, Indiana

Land Type: Private
Owner: Black Beauty Coal Company
Cemetery Location

Jackson Township, Sullivan County, Indiana

A small cemetery with very few stones left and they are barely readable. There is supposedly about 15 Civil War Veterans buried in there.

The Coal mine has hired a logging company to log the woods beside the cemetery. The heavy equipment ran right over the top of the stones and destroyed them. Now the coal company wants to move the the graves to another site. According to a legal notice on April 4, 2000 in our local newspaper the Sullivan Daily Times, heirs have at least 30 days to challenge the request.
Previous Contacts

Civil War Roundtable of Indiana, Wally King, an investigator for the Sullivan County Prosecutor's Office. Sullivan County Cemetery Board, Hymera American Legion, Sullivan County Veterans Administration

Note by Saving Graves - Contacted the Indiana Pioneer Cemetery Restoration Project for assistance.
Current Status

Presently trying to find Indiana protection laws for pioneer cemeteries. Also trying to find heirs to the people buried there. We don't have a complete list of burials and do not have any of the Civil War names.
Submitted by:

name: Donna K. Adams
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

UPDATE1 - Read Trying to keep the peace, from the April 21, 2000 edition of the Terre Haute Tribune - Star.

UPDATE 2 -The Black Beauty Coal Co., which alleges it owns clear title to the cemetery, has petitioned the Sullivan Superior Court for permission to excavate the remains of 15 or more people buried there so that it can explore the site for coal.

Due to the damage that has already taken place at Brainer Cemetery, we know of only one CONFIRMED burial here. The surname is McCAMISH. We believe there may be PLEWs buried here as well. There are estimated by the coal company to be at least 15 graves here.

This sort of legalized cemetery destruction is nothing new; coal companies do this in Indiana all the time. What's different in this situation is that we have in place a network of people who are trying to stop this desecration or, in the alternative, persuade the Court to compel Black Beauty Coal Co. to simultaneously disinter and reinter the remains in a respectful manner.

The deadline for filing objections is Thursday, May 4, 2000. We don't want a repeat of what was done to Rhoads Cemetery and Wilhoit Cemetery!!!

If you are a descendant of a person believed to be buried at Brainer Cemetery or if you would like to get involved in protecting this site in this critical battle, please go to the Brainer Cemetery page, read the information there, read the Petition filed by Black Beauty Coal, read the linked newspaper accounts and print out a "template" for filing your objections with the Sullivan Superior Court. Remember: Your objections must be received by the Court no later than Thursday, May 4th.

Thank you!

Lois Mauk
UPDATE3 - For the most current and up to date information on this situation, including photos, please visit:

We have just received word that there will be a HEARING in Sullivan Superior Court at 9:00 A.M. on MONDAY, JUNE 5, 2000, on Black Beauty Coal's PETITION TO DISINTER the remains of 15+/- persons buried at this pioneer family cemetery.

I consider this a victory! The Court did NOT rubber-stamp Black Beauty's request and the matter has been set for a hearing, which means the Judge will take into consideration the merits of the company's request and the responses received by the Court from descendants and the public.

We have a LOT to do in the meantime and this "reprieve" will be invaluable in allowing us a few extra weeks to find additional possible descendants of the people buried here. Our efforts continue to try to identify other names associated with this cemetery.

At this point in time, the only CONFIRMED surname that we have identified as being buried here is:


We suspect that there may be persons named PLEW buried here as well, as Zilpha McCamish, possibly the first burial here, is thought to have been a Plew before her marriage to John McCamish and members of the Plew family lived next door to the McCamishes in the early 1800s.

The property was owned at one time by a member of the BRAINER family; hence the name by which it is now known. We do not know if any persons named BRAINER are buried there.

The damage to the stones and markers here has been extensive. There are many fragments lying around and only two bear markings of legible names -- both McCAMISH. (See webpage above for photos of the stones.)

If you have not already written a letter to the Court expressing your opinions and concerns about this situation, please go to the webpage above, read the PETITION TO DISINTER filed by Black Beauty Coal, look at the pictures of the cemetery, read the facts set out there and read the newspaper accounts that are linked there.

Then, print out the template we have provided on the webpage (in Adobe Acrobat PDF format) to help you write your own letter to the Court expressing your position. The template is provided only to give you a starting place for composing your own thoughts and you are certainly free to add or take away from it as you see fit to suit your needs.

I suggest you mail your letters to the Court by Memorial Day weekend, to permit the Clerk sufficient time to post them all in the file on this matter in preparation for the 6/5/2000 hearing.

Please send a copy of your letter to the attorney for the Petitioner, at the address provided in the template.

"Coal Mine to Go Around Cemetery – Black Beauty Axes Plans to Disinter Cemetery"

The following is excerpted from the May 31, 2000 edition of the Sullivan Daily Times.
Unfortunately, the story is not available on-line.

Black Beauty Coal on May 31, 2000 cited "rightful respect" in scratching its plans to relocate 15 to 20 graves at Braner Cemetery in Jackson Township (Sullivan Co., IN). Company officials say they took negative [ublic reactions into account.

The Sullivan Superior Court case file includes objections from purported family members and others from as far away as New Mexico on legal and moral grounds.

A Black Beauty Coal official said, "Public opposition, coupled with input from Sullivan Co. Commissioner Jim Pirtle, and Paul Ehret of the Indiana DNR, led Black Beauty Coal to reconsider its plans for the cemetery."

Black Beauty Coal has directed its local legal counsel to withdraw its Petition.

The company, which owns the property on which the cemetery is located, also intends to file deed restrictions limiting the land's use to cemetery only. The company will maintain a 100-foot buffer along all sides of the cemetery.

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