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The History of the Wills Cemetery located near Peculiar

The Wills Cemetery was originally known as the Thorn Grove Cemetery, and was incorporated in 1868.  There are few records existing from that time, but several stories still circulate about the name.  In one version, the name “Wills” was competing with the name “Urton.”  But when counting the number of graves with each name, “Wills” had one more grave than “Urton,” thus winning the naming rights for the cemetery.  Both families were pioneers in the Peculiar area, and many descendents are buried in the Wills Cemetery.  Some of the original ground for the cemetery came from the farm of Alpheus Wills, which would also account for the name of this area.

Originally lots sold for $5.00 and by 1901 more ground was needed.  Three leaders, O.W. Griffith, A.G. Wills, and J.R. Hainline circulated papers to raise money to purchase more ground.  In 1902 an acre was added from the O.W. Griffith estate and in 1903 an acre was purchased from A.G. Wills for $50.00.  A new fence was installed and the price of lots became $10.00.  The cemetery was maintained by donations and the original leaders were responsible for the upkeep. In modern times, funds for maintenance have been raised by annual turkey dinners, which were famous for their food, and were held until 1963.  These dinners were provided by the Ladies Auxiliary.

Wills Cemetery has provided burial space for many generations of Peculiar and area residents. The first recorded burial in this cemetery was Mrs. Emily Thompson, who had moved to Peculiar from Virginia. The early generations of the Shackelford and Griffith families were buried on the side of the cemetery that originated from the John Griffith farm and the Wills ancestors were buried on the land of the cemetery that was part of the Alpheus Wills farm.  The Griffith land is located near the current north driveway and the Wills land is located near the current brick structure.

The Wills Cemetery continues to serve the Peculiar area as a well-maintained burial location.  New adjoining land has been purchased in recent years to accommodate the need for additional lots.  The current Board of Directors has been fiscally responsible and forward-thinking in its responsibility to the preservation of the Wills Cemetery for future generations.