On a recent trip to Sand Ridge Cemetery, its founding was described by a local woman who is related to those buried there. Unfortunately, she has been unable to provide a date. It remains unclear whether or not this cemetery is as old as 1887, when John Henry would have been buried.
A local archeologist with ground-penetrating radar (gpr) has taken up the search for John Henry's grave. He described for us the limitations of gpr. It will probably be some time before it is actually applied in a field situation in our search. For the moment the search for possible burial sites is taking top priority with him. He is skeptical of Sand Ridge Cemetery because it is so far (about a mile) from the railroad tracks. He imagines that dead black laborers would have been buried much closer to the tracks. I agree with this possibility but I think that John Henry and Captain Dabney were close, so I suspect that the Captain would have wanted to give John Henry a "good" burial. Sand Ridge Cemetery remains a possibility in my mind.
We have made contacts with more people with John Henry stories. One man tells us of several cemeteries near the tracks, all on private property and all accessed with difficulty. He was surprised to hear us speaking of the John Henry "legend." The way his grandfather and others spoke of John Henry, there was no "legend" to it - it was simply fact that he died at Dunnavant, Alabama. (That's the way legends are, of course.)
We have heard of a 90-year-old man with a clear mind who has lived in Dunnavant all his life. Members of our team hope to interview him soon.
We have also heard stories of headstones at places near the RR tracks. These markers have long disappeared but they are recalled. We hope to investigate these sites.