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Historic McKinley Family Cemetery gets signs, cleaned up

Several generations of McKinleys from the McKinley Historical Society recently installed new memorial gate signs and gave a much-needed scrub of the historic McKinley Family Cemetery in Zebulon. 

“We cleared overgrown vegetation, trimmed the magnolias, and scrubbed headstones. Thanks to the contributions of many more, we also removed the 35-year-old signs and replaced them with beautiful plaques that we hope last 135 years,” said Rachel M. McKinley, the Society president. 

Society members from as far away as New York met at the cemetery on Feb. 19 and 20 for the cleanup. Many headstones were unreadable, weeds and trees were entangled in the cemetery’s fence and the original signs were deteriorating. 

“The new plaques were installed and they look amazing! And a very big thank you to the crew (and Pamela K. Giles, not pictured) for being there to install and clean up the cemetery,” said McKinley.

The McKinley Historical Society of Pike County, Georgia was founded by great, great grandsons of John B., Alton P. McKinley and James E. McKinley; and, great, great, great grandson John J. McKinley in 1986 to preserve the McKinley family history of Pike. As a 501(c)(13), it has two primary purposes. The first is to collect and archive historical data of the descendants of John McKinley. The other is the perpetual care of the McKinley family cemetery located at the intersection of New Hope Road and McKinley Road, in the eighth district of Pike. 

“Generous contributions allow the preservation of cemetery information in the form of these signs for future generations,” said McKinley. 

The McKinley’s history in Pike dates back to the mid-1820s when John B. McKinley and his wife Peggy moved from The Rocky River area of North Carolina to begin farming and running a sawmill. One of John B. and Peggy’s sons, Midas Leroy, settled in the Zebulon area and was the first to be buried in what became the McKinley Family Cemetery.  He died in 1887 at the age of 67. There are currently 19 graves in the cemetery which is on one acre near the corner of New Hope and McKinley Roads.

“There has been some interest in having the family tree recreated and updated for family descendants who may be interested. We would like to pursue the services of an artist who will allow prints to be made and sold to those who would like this art in their home displaying our McKinley family tree. We are looking for candidates for the 2022-2024 slate of officers. If you are interested in helping preserve our family history and legacy, please contact me for more details,” she said. 

Email the McKinley Historical Society at mckinleyhistoricalsociety@gmail.com. Donations may be mailed to the McKinley Historical Society of Pike County, Georgia, at 1002 Cole Drive, Southeast Huntsville, AL 35802.

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