There is a tombstone in the Upper Zachary Cemetery that has the following inscription:
Neal Zachary born 12 October 1887 (No Death Date)
Bessie Hazel Zachary born 1 December 1889 died 23 October 1945
A tombstone in the same plot has this inscription:
Guy M. Zachary born 30 May 1913 died 17 September 1944,
Missing in Germany
Neal Zachary and his wife Bessie were caretakers at Camp Merrie-Woode as early as 1935 and continuing through World War II. (James Pressley became the camp caretaker after Neal left.) Neal and Bessie owned a farmhouse up near the top of Cedar Creek Road, now owned by the Fowler family, but most of the time they made their home at the Gate House at Camp Merrie-Woode. An archivist at the camp provided pictures and personal information about Neal and Bessie and confirmed that the couple had only one child, Guy Zachary, who died in the European Combat Zone in World War II, reportedly captured and then frozen to death shortly before the Battle of the Bulge.
Neal and Bessie were well-loved members of the camp community. Neal usually wore denim overalls, could play a mean fiddle, and he was often followed around by a couple of his beloved hound dogs. Bessie, according to her death certificate, was born in Highlands. She died a little over a year after her son Guy died in WWII and it has been said that Neal was “never the same” after the deaths of his wife and his only child. It is sad to look at Neal’s tombstone and see that his date of death is still blank which suggests that there were no family members alive when he died to record his death date on the stone.
Surely, there will be someone who reads this article who knows something about the date of Neal Zachary’s death and, if so, please telephone Jane Nardy at (828) 743-9002. Let’s complete the inscription on this dear man’s tombstone.
Contributed by Jane Gibson Nardy, Historian, Cashiers Historical Society