Camden County Historical Society collected the following information
when they researched the cemetery located at Bull Run Bluff
Campground on Lake
by weeds, brush and trees, this cemetery was once cared for and
protected by a fence surrounding four sides. Approximately ten or
twelve unlettered field stones mark some of the graves; others are
not marked. Cornerstones about four feet high are still in place,
but the fencing has disappeared.
Not too far
from the cemetery, a fireplace chimney stands .
Between the cemetery
and the chimney, a field stone path leads down to a walled-in spring
from which a trickle of water flows downhill to form a pond.
early history of this area is remembered by very few people. The
story begins in the year 1888 when Tommy Witten, a crippled man,
purchased a large tract of land from John W. and Emily C. Jackson.
This area, referred to as Isle of the Lake , or Isle of the Ozarks,
was known by old timers as “the Backbone.”
turn of the century, there were two houses located on this farm.
One, the lower house, now covered by the Lake of the Ozarks, was
home to Tommy Witten, his mother and their former slave, Josephine
upper house, of which only the fireplace chimney survives, was home
to the David and Docie Bunch Family. They farmed this land for the Wittens.
Tommy’s mother died, he was cared for by the by servant Josephine
1900 census report lists Tommy as being born in Missouri in 1836 and
Josephine born in 1850. When Josephine died, Tommy was cared for by
the Dave Bunch family.
many occasions Dave asked Tommy if he would sell him the farm, but
Tommy always said, “I think I’ll hold onto it for awhile.” During
the year 1908, when Tommy was 72 years of age, a lawyer, Pleasant
King, from the county seat, paid the Bunch family and Tommy a visit.
he left he invited Tommy to visit with him in his home in Linn
Creek. The offer was accepted and before long another offer was made
to Tommy. “If Mr. Witten would sign his farm over to him, he could
live with the King Family and be taken care of for the rest of his
24, 1908, a quit claim deed was made out to Pleasant King.
Witten became a resident of the Williams Poor Farm and was later
buried in a paupers grave in the Hugo Cemetery.
Dave Bunch Family moved to a farm owned by their relatives, the
land changed hands several times until 1946 when a group of out of
state investors became the last owners.
from Nebraska made a new road around the outside of the property.
This is now Lake Road 54-82. At that time the house on the hill was
gone. According to Tom Capps, the house was still there in 1940.
Eunice Lortcher, daughter of Dave Bunch, was able to name several of the
people buried in the cemetery:
grandmother Judy Isabel Ziglar; Judy’s daughter Ann Bledsoe, and
Ann’s baby. Several other children are buried there, as well as
Tommy’s mother is buried there, but this in only a guess. There has
been some rumor that Indians are buried there, but this may be “just
first seeing Moses Witten (also spelled Whitten) in about 1820, his
owner, Isaac M. Witten, must have been disappointed at his new
investment. The baby was a dwarf and had several severe deformities,
including a hunch-back condition. The master chose to keep the
grotesquely formed child, a decision that would prove
fortuitous to his family many years later.
into a genteel and kind adult and was the special friend of the
children who quickly forgave his appearance. Possessing surprising
strength for his size, he could do his share of the work on his
master’s farm. Moses was responsible to his assigned duties and was
trusted by the white Wittens. The Witten family moved to Camden
County from Kentucky shortly before 1850 and, of course, brought
their slaves with them.
moving to the Linn Creek area, Moses’ services were evidently rented
out to Murphy, McClurg and Company before the Civil War. He became known
for hundreds of miles around as he delivered merchandise from Linn
Creek to the various stores in Southern Missouri and Northern
about 1858, Moses married Rosa who was born in 1840 in Kentucky. The
had seven children, six of whom were still alive in 1900. All of
their children were born in Missouri. The children were John, born
circa 1859, Mary E. born circa 1862, Francie E. born circa 1866, Cara
Belle, born circa 1869, George, born circa 1872, Isaac, born circa
1875 and Jake, born circa 1877.
Rosa opened their home to David and Josephine Witten who were
apparently brother and sister and were a nephew and niece of Moses.
David worked on his uncle’s farm and Josephine helped her aunt with
the housework. Both became highly respected people in the Linn Creek
Moses owned forty acres of land, seven acres of which were tilled.
The land, buildings and fences were valued at $200 and his livestock
was valued at $100. He owned two horses, two mules, one cattle and
twenty hogs. The two dozen barnyard poultry produced 160 dozen eggs
in 1879. That year, he produced 200 bushels of corn on his seven
tilled acres and forty gallons of molasses on one-half acre of
Witten family had changed very little at emancipation. They remained
closely allied to the Isaac M. Witten family, their former masters,
and continued to serve their needs. This was particularly true when
Isaac died. Moses and his family helped to care for Isaac’s widow,
Nancy, and his invalid son, Thomas. By 1880, Josephine Witten had
moved into the home of Nancy and Thomas to take care of them and in
1900, she was listed as servant to the sixty-three year old Thomas,
the then only surviving member of the family. Josephine served out
of loyalty and love for the Wittens as her former mistress had been
swindled out of her savings and there was not money to pay for
Thomas’ care. Josephine died at the age of 59 on April 22, 1909. At
the time of her death, she was still caring for the invalid, Thomas.
died in 1892. The April 7 issue of “The Refeille” stated, “Moses
Witten, the oldest and best known negro in Camden county, died last
Friday, and was buried the following day, among his former masters
and mistresses, in Old Erie cemetery. He was a hunch back, hideously
deformed in many ways, but with a kindly heart…”
Witten, Moses’ nephew, never married and continued to live with his
Aunt Rosa and her orphaned children and grandchildren, supporting
them by working the family farm. Davis was found dead in his corn
crib on April 18, 1906, evidently brought down by a heart attack.
The editor at “The Reveille” indicated that, “He was an honest,
hard-working man, with no bad habits or serious faults.”
youngest child was known as “Little Jake” and may have been a dwarf
like his father. Jake had died in 1911 and probably before 1900.
Rosa, Moses’ widow, had passed away by 1910. Moses’ sons, John and
George, lived at Osage City for a time and probably worked on the
steamboats plyng the Missouri and Osage rivers. Another son, Isaac,
lived at Jefferson City.