(Axsom Newsletter June-Dec 2005)
Norma Zanetti wrote an email in late October, 2005 about her recent visit with her husband Joe Zanetti to the old Axsom Family Cemetery in Surry County, NC. She & Joe drove to the old farm where the cemetery is located.
"We went to the end of the roadbed where we thought the cemetery would be. Joe got our of the car & looked, but couldn't find the cemetery. My heart sank. I thought someone had destroyed the stones. But Joe kept walking and finally found it. The reason we couldn't spot that copse of trees was because the corn had been planted all the way up to the trree line. Joe got back in the car & drove over the cornstalks. He helped me get into the trees far enough to get by the M.C. Anthony stone-the big one that is more modern. I could see some of the other stones, but couldn't get close to them. Joe couldn't get to all of them either. We had an old sheet in the car. I got Joe to tear a strip off and we tied it to a tree on the edge of the cemetery. That may help someone find it, but I think it will be hard for anyone who hasn't been there before to spot it.
The condition of the cemetery saddens me, but I really don't know what to do about it. It looked great after Alton cleaned it (in 1995) and after the men Red Axsom hired to clear it (in 2000.) I think that last cleanup was $500. I can't see spending that much money to just let the cemetery go and get back in the same condition in a year or two. We really need someone to maintain the cemetery. If we could get someone to commit to keeping it cleared, it shouldn't cost nearly as much and the initial clearing. I don't know how many cemeteries there are in Surry County like ours, but I think it would be a great project for churches or other organizations to 'adopt a cemetery'..."
A few days later Norma wrote to say that her son Joe Zanetti, Jr who is between jobs, would be willing to clean the cemetery for $275. The officers agreed to have Norma's son do the cleanup. Joe Zanetti Jr took some pictures of the cleanup activity. he didn't take a chainsaw but needed one. The cemetery is full of roots. Some Joe could not cut. He said he would go back in the spring and take the chainsaw if we want, he will spray Roundup.
Norma says the reason the cemetery grows up so fast is because of all the roots there. Its not known if one spraying of Roundup will kill everything and we would be left with dirt for awhile. There is no grass in the cemetery. It is all briars and a little bit of everything growing there.
Norma noted that her son Joe and his wife Tina ventured into the old farmhouse on the property. It is believed that the farmhouse & farm belonged to the Cockerham family. Joseph H. Axsom Jr.s oldest son, James Monroe Axsom married Nancy Jane Cockerham. Joe &Tina concluded that the house is haunted. They said they heard what sounded like footsteps upstairs, but couldn't find anyone. Joe said the mantle in the house is just like the one that his mother, Norma got from the house thought to belong to Joseph H Axsom, Jr. The mantle had the same round decorative pieces that Norma's had. Joseph Jr. was a carpenter and he may have made that mantle for his son's wife's parents.
A big vote of thanks and appreciation to Joe Zanetti Jr and to his Mom Norma, for this effort.
We do have a continuing challange, however. Year after year, this cemetery needs a cleaning. A once-a-year cleanup should be less expensive than a cleanup every 5 years. The challange is to locate a responsible person to do the cleanup-or a responsible organization that would take on the annual cemetery cleanup as a project. We need some suggestions on how to handle this challange!