Conner (Connor) Family Cemetery

Jonathan Conner, a miller on Bill’s Creek in Rutherford County, moved to Bat Cave to run a mill near Hickory Nut Creek and the Rocky Broad River. Later he and his wife, Nancy Adeline Grigg, moved to the area of Middle Fork and operated a mill there.
Jonathan Conner, 1834-1906, also fought in the Civil War. He enlisted in Co. F of the 62nd N.C. Regiment. He was captured and held prisoner twice. The last time he was taken to Camp Douglas in Illinois, where he remained until the end of the war. At the time of his enlistment, prior to the Civil War and after returning from the war, he resided in Rutherford County.
Jonathan Conner was the son of William Albert Conner Sr. and Elizabeth Dalton Conner. Their grave sites are located at the early Bill’s Creek Baptist Church near Lake Lure. William Albert Conner Sr. was a son of James Conner, who was living in Rutherford County at least as early as 1790.
The old cemetery containing the graves of the Conner couple, their descendants and other family members can be found on Possum Hollow Road in Bat Cave.
There are more than 58 graves in the cemetery. Many of the graves were only marked by old field stones.
The Conner Cemetery in Bat Cave is located on property once owned by Bushrod Conner and his wife, Massa Conner. Bushrod Conner (1815-about 1876) was the son of George Conner, also a son of James Conner. The wife of Bushrod Conner, Massa Conner, was the daughter of Samuel Conner. This couple and their descendants also have grave sites in the cemetery.
Spellings of Conner and Connor are both found on tombstones in the cemetery.
Two sons of Bushrod Conner enlisted with Edney’s Greys from Henderson County during the Civil War and died during the war.
Alexander Lafayette Conner, 1838-1862, died at Grahamville, S.C., most likely of disease. Robert J. Conner, 1842-1862, died in Kinston, also most likely of disease.
They were the first two burials in the lower end of their mother’s garden, according to an article in the Henderson County Heritage Book.
When the cemetery was visited by members of the Henderson County Historical and Genealogical survey team in 1986, many of the field stones were unmarked.
Since then descendants have identified many of the graves and placed markers either at the foot of the graves or near the field stones that identify the person buried in the grave. Confederate memorial stones have also been erected since the survey.
Connor descendants married into families with the surnames Hill, Freeman and Williams.
A double foot stone in the cemetery contains the graves of two children of Edgar Huntley who died in a flood in 1911, according to the Henderson County North Carolina Cemeteries book. The statement in the book states that their bodies were washed down from Middle Fork, recovered and buried in the cemetery.
Research indicates that these were the children of Brown Edgar Huntley and his first wife, Garnier or Garnia Belle Wilson Huntley.
Research confirms that they did not die in a flood in 1911. They died in the Flood of 1916.
There are two sections related to their deaths in the book “The North Carolina Flood: July 14, 15, 16, 1916” written by W.M. Bell.
The first account is as follows:
“The highway engineer speaks of one slide, which starting slowly close to the summit of the mountain carried away the home of E.B. (Brown Edgar) Huntley. In that mountain home were the father, the mother, and their two children.
“Lights were burning there, for their cheer was needed, and around the hearthstone before a smoldering fire were gathered the little family. From below came the never-ceasing clamor of the infuriate driver hurling unimaginable masses of water and rocks against the mountainside. Outside a world in the making, with not a star in the heavens nor a gleam in of light. The rain came in sheets, beating against doors and windowpanes. Outside utter desolation and things they knew not of. Inside, warmth, light, fancied security.
“But suddenly above the outcry of the river below was heard a still more terrific tumult above them, on the side of the mountain. It stilled all other noises, and with it came shocks which shook the dwelling and the world upon which it rested. Closer and closer came that crashing horror, and almost before the family knew of its coming it was upon them.
“The man of the house staggered to the door — opened it — and in some fashion or another, stumbled outside. Before his little family could follow, and they possibly did not understand even then why they should leave that protecting glow of the smoldering fire for the utter blackness of a new world outside the slide had torn their home from where it had rested for many years, and hurled it over and over again much as a child tosses a pebble.
“The husband and father, clinging desperately to a tree just outside the path of the slide, as helpless to aid or to save as a newborn babe, watched with brain reeling his home with the lights still gleaming, go hurtling down the mountains towards and into that torrent of turbulent fury below.
“The man lived – is still living – but needless to say that so long as time shall last with him never will he forget that vision of sudden death which deprived him of all that was most dear.
“The mother was found later, close to the brink of the river. She was hanging, head downwards, with one foot caught in the crotch of a tree. The children were found later, too. Mother and children now rest in a common grave, close by a laurel thicket near where their home once stood.”
The second account is as follows:
“Mrs. B.E. Huntley, of Bearwallow Mountain, Middle Fork Creek, has been found and buried.”
The first wife of Brown Edgar Huntley was Belle (Ganier or Gainia) Wilson, daughter of James and Dela Wilson. Her grave site is located at the Middle Fork Baptist Church (Huntley Family Cemetery) next to the grave site of Brown Edgar Huntley. Brown Edgar Huntley married again to Eva Conner.
The Henderson County North Carolina Cemetery Book has the Conner Cemetery listed as the Collins Cemetery. The county’s GIS system cemetery layer labels it the Connor/Collins Cemetery. There are no grave stones with Collins as a surname. It is unclear why the surname Collins was used in the naming of this cemetery.
There is also a major error in the Henderson County North Carolina Cemeteries book related to this cemetery. The graves in the Conner Cemetery were mistakenly entered under a Hill Cemetery located farther up Possum Hollow Road, near Bear Branch Road.
Ralph and Margaret Anderson own the property on which the Conner Cemetery is located.
The cemetery is in excellent condition and well maintained.