Ol' John's Field and The Search for John Leonard Dekle's Grave November 7, 2006. I have been doing Dekle family genealogy for years and have been told since I was a small boy that John Leonard Dekle, our immigrant ancestor and the founder of the Dekle and Deakle families in the United States, was buried in about 1828 on our family farm on land owned by my Aunt, Nina Dekle Price. My Aunt Nina and my Aunt Rene always said that they were going to place a permanent marker on the grave, but they did not get it accomplished before they passed away. Unfortunately, none of we Dekle children from my generation had the foresight to inquire about the location of the grave before all of our parent's generation were deceased. Thus the exact location of the grave site has been a mystery to us for many years.  The only location I remember being told was that the grave was somewhere across the road from the George Washington Dekle house. This could mean anywhere on several hundred acres of property and was not nearly specific enough to locate the actual site, although I have spent many enjoyable hours looking for something that looks like a grave. Several years ago an older cousin, Cecil Fordham, who had lived in the area for many years but has since passed away, said that the grave was located in a field not very far South of an old road. He said the road had once crossed Reedy Creek to his house, but that it was no longer there. Then, during a trip to the farm about three years ago, I was led by a neighbor, Bruce Kitchens, who has lived in the area for many years, to an area in Aunt Nina's field where he said he believed the grave to be located. He said that he was shown the location years ago and to the best of his recollection, it was within a few hundred feet of the location he pointed out. I wasn't quite convinced as there was no sign of any grave visible in the field. Then I noticed that the North boundary of the field, which is very brushy, contained some very large trees. Closer examination revealed that the large trees are in two evenly spaced rows. It quickly became obvious that the trees lined both sides of what was once a road on the North edge of the field, and which leads East towards Reedy Creek. Recalling the conversation from several years earlier about the old abandoned road, I began to believe that perhaps I was on the path to actually locating the grave site. Next, more recently, during an email conversation with another Dekle relative, he referred to a field on the Dekle farm where John Leonard Dekle is buried. He said that in the early 80's when he was visiting an elderly cousin, he was shown the field and was told it was where John Leonard Dekle had lived, farmed, died and is buried. He said that ever since then he has referred to the field as Ol' John's Field. Further correspondence about the location revealed that he was referring to my Aunt Nina's cotton field. This further strengthened my belief that I am indeed on the right track to actually locating the grave site. I now believe that this field is a part of John Dekle's property referred to in the deed dated February 15, 1821, located elsewhere on this website. In this deed, John Leonard Dekle sold some property to Aurin Goodgame Horn. The field in question has certainly been in the Dekle family for many generations. Several months ago, in order to preserve this land and keep it from being sold out of the family, I purchased the field from the estate of my Aunt Nina, who had owned it for the last 50 or so years. She had inherited it from her father and my grandfather, James Ivy Dekle. I now have been told at different times by at least five reliable people, that John Leonard Dekle's grave is in this field. This week, a neighbor revealed that my uncle, Carlton Dekle, who knew where the grave was located, once told him that the grave is located on the East end of the field about three quarters of the way up to the North border and a hundred feet or so from the trees to the East. This corresponds very closely with the location pointed out to me by the other neighbor two years ago. I now believe that I know the location of the grave within a few hundred feet. My next step is to find someone with ground penetrating radar or other grave locating equipment to see if we can pinpoint the location. Once we have the grave located, I plan to erect a permanent marker so that future generations can visit the grave site and it will never be lost again. In the photograph below, Old John's Field is the rectangle in the lower left of the screen. This is a close-up of the upper right corner of the field with the approximate gravesite is marked with an x. UPDATE: March 19, 2012 Last week I was visiting the farm tending to some other business unrelated to the grave. I had been walking in the woods when I stepped out onto the road. A truck driving by stopped to talk and whether it was luck, divine providence or my ancestors watching out for me, it happened to be Sammy Hendrix, a farm neighbor whom I had never met but who had grown up just down the road from the farm. In the course of the conversation I mentioned that I had been trying for years to locate John Leonard Dekle’s grave. Mr. Hendrix said “I know where it is”. I didn’t get too excited at the time because so many people had said that they knew that it was out in the 40 acre field. How wrong I was. Mr. Hendrix’s memory for details turned out to be amazing. Overnight I thought about what he had said and thought that since I would be in Georgia for a few more days, I might as well give finding the grave one more try. The next morning my cousin Jim Dekle and I went to Mr. Hendrix's house and asked him if he would show us where he thought the grave was located. He said he would be glad to and we headed out to the field along with his daughter, Lisa Newham and her daughter. He walked out into the field, looked around a bit, pointed to a spot on the ground and said “it was right about here”. This was in spite of the fact that he had not seen the grave site for approximately 50 years, but he seemed to remember it well. Mr Hendrix had leased the field from my Aunt Nina and farmed it back in the sixties. He also remembered that the location of the grave had been in a wooded area until the trees were cut and the field enlarged. That explains why my sister, who had been shown the grave site as a teenager, thought it was in the trees rather than the field. She and I had spent several hours looking in the woods a few years ago but found nothing. He also said that years ago the grave had been marked by a cypress headboard that appeared to have had writing on it at one time but that had weathered off to be unreadable long before he saw it. Mr. Hendrix had been so confident of the grave spot that the next day I drove into Metter to see if I could find any information on obtaining ground penetrating radar to check the site. Don Kennedy of Kennedy-Morgan-Brannen Funeral Home in Metter gave me the contact information for Len and Ben Strozier of Omega Mapping Services who had all the needed equipment. I made arrangements to meet them at the grave site on Monday, March 19, 2012. Within less than two hours of arrival Ben Strozier had done a radar survey of approximately two acres of ground around the spot pointed out by Mr. Hendrix and found two graves, one of an adult and one of a child. Since we know of only one adult person buried there, John Leonard Dekle, the adult grave (approx. 6 feet long) has to be his. I don’t know who the child grave (approximately 4 feet long) would be. I have no intention of excavating the grave to attempt to verify that it is actually John Leonard Dekle, however all of the facts known about the grave, the location, the size, the family history, the land ownership records, etc. point to the fact that it is him. The adult grave was only 39 feet from the spot pointed out by Mr. Hendrix, pretty good memory for a grave he had last seen around 50 years ago. The next steps in this process are registering the gravesite with the county and getting proper gravestones and markers for the grave so that it will never be lost again. We may never find out exactly how John Leonard Dekle arrived in America to become the founder of the Dekle (and Deakle) families in the United States but at long last our generation now knows his final resting place.   Jim Dekle and Sammy Hendrix searching for the grave location Ben of Omegamapping arrives with the ground penetrating radar. Searching for the grave. A large area around the suspected site was surveyed. FOUND IT!!! John Leonard Dekle's grave is marked by the large pipe to the left. A small child's grave was found about 20 feet away and is marked by the smaller pipe to the right. For me this represents the successful (thanks to Sammy Hendrix in the dark blue shirt) conclusion of a 19 year search for the grave site. I'm happy. Sammy Hendrix pointing to his original spot. John Dekle's actual grave site is the large pipe to the right and was only 39 feet from Sammy's original spot. The happy hunters. James Dekle Thurman, Gail Thurman, Ben Strozier, Linda Dekle, Jim Dekle And how close was the educated guess made in 2006 up above on the webpage?           I would like to thank on behalf of all the Dekle, Deakle and other descendants of John Leonard Dekle all the people who had a direct part or who helped in many ways in the location of this historic grave site. Bill Dekle Jim Dekle Linda Dekle Cecil Fordham (deceased) Sammy Hendrix Don Kennedy of Kennedy-Morgan-Brannen Funeral Home in Metter, Ga. Bruce Kitchens Lisa Newham Len and Ben Strozier of www.Omegamapping.com  Carol Thurman And all the other family members, neighbors and friends who offered encouragement and support. Finding and marking this grave has been my goal for almost 20 years and I will gladly pay for all of it, however over the years that I have been searching for the grave many people have expressed a desire to assist with some of the costs. If you would like to help with a donation I will humbly accept it and I promise you that none of the donation will go into my pocket. Any donations received will go directly to the costs of the radar for locating the grave, a headstone and footstone for John Dekle’s grave, two small stones for the unknown child’s grave, and a sign near the road pointing to the gravesite. If by any chance more donations come in than the costs of the above, any excess will go into improvements of the gravesite such as a fence around the gravesites and landscaping. Anyone making a donation of any amount will receive recognition on this website unless you tell me you would like to remain anonymous. I eventually I would also like to make a plaque for the grave site listing the names of all those who contributed.  If you would like to make a donation, click the button below and you will be taken to a special, secure Paypal website which will handle the donations. You do not need a Paypal account to make a donation. You can use your credit card. I will nether see nor be given any of the payment information you give to Paypal, your credit card will remain secure. If you have any questions or would like more information, you can contact me at jimthurman@att.net.