After my latest trip to north GA I have become 99% certain that my gggg-grandparents are buried at Bethlehem Baptist Church Cemetery in Lower Young Cane, GA, just west of Blairsville (Union Co).
I will never be able to prove it, for certain. But a considerable amount of evidence has come to light in regards to the locations of their children's farms during the 1830's and 40's, and where John and Margaret lived in relation to them during that time.
John and Margaret (J&M) did not own their own farm, by the way. So that effectively removes a family cemetery from the equation.
In 1840, the last census on which John was recorded, they were living next to Isabella Price - a possible daughter or other close relation to J&M. But Isabella wasn't even buried in a family cemetery, as she was later buried at Bethlehem Cemetery also. All of these family lots (Amos, George, Joseph, Isabella) in Lower Young Cane were within a mile or two of Bethlehem, and a couple were within a half mile. In fact, the lot which was the furthest away was Isabella's lot, but she was later buried at Bethlehem.
My g-gf was Elijah Patterson (1871-1957). He is buried at Bethlehem Cemetery (BC).
His parents were Bill and Betty Patterson (Wm H. Patterson, 1832-1883, and Elizabeth Akins Patterson, 1836-1914). Both Bill and Betty are buried at BC - next to Isabella Price.
Bill's father was George Patterson (1800-1860)... I now know that George died in 1860 sometime between July when the census was taken, and December when his widow Sophia wrote a letter to her family regarding his death. He was buried a couple miles north next to his wife Rebecca Chastain Patterson, who had died during the mid to late 1840's when they lived on a lot in Ivy Log. George later lived very close to BC, and I found out this week via telephone that George attended Bethlehem Church. Undertandably he chose to be buried next to his wife, and therefore he is not at BC.
My gggg-gf was John Patterson (1762/65-1840's), father of George. John and his wife Margaret, are the first generation of Pattersons whom I do NOT know where they are buried. Bethlehem Church was established in 1848. Usually, churches were established by like-minded people in a growing locale, and quite often established near a cemetery already established by the community or one of the families. I now know that John could have been born as early as 1762 and no later than 1765. I believe it was around 1762/63 time frame.
BC has at least 30 unmarked graves (field stones with no markings on them) in the heart of the cemetery. And the main Patterson (and Price and Gray) rows are located all around these unmarked graves at the entrance to the cemetery. White folk began moving into the area in the late 1820's and early 1830's, so none of these graves would likely pre-date 1830.
Where were John and Margaret Patterson buried? Where was their oldest son Joseph B. Patterson (1789-1860) buried? Where was Joseph's daughter, Peggy, and her husband, Gravet E. Foster, buried?
It is a known fact that Gravet and Peggy Patterson Foster are buried in unmarked graves in BC. This is very important to understand. There is only one section of unmarked graves - in the heart of the cemetery. It would make sense to me that Peggy Foster would be buried near her father, Joseph, who in turn was buried near his parents, John and Margaret.
John died in the 1840's. Margaret died after 1850, during which year she was enumerated on the census twice, once at her son John Jr's, and the other at her son Joseph's. Joseph's lot was 1/2 mile due east of the cemetery, and was probably the closest of the clan to that cemetery.
Peggy Foster was born ca 1814-1816, and was one of the oldest of J&M's grandchildren. She was probably the oldest grandchild who remained in the Union Co GA area. That cemetery was special to her family apparently, and it was definitely close to her father's lot (off modern Honaker Rd).
J&M had descendants from at least 3 and possibly 4 branches of their family, buried there. Maybe even more. Isabella Price, if she was a daughter, is one. Another was Peggy Foster, daughter of Joseph. At least two sons of George were buried there (Bill and his brother John A. Patterson). And John Patterson Kincaid, son of Amy, was also buried there.
No other cemetery in Union or Fannin Co, GA can boast such a claim - that more than one branch of the J&M clan had members buried in said cemetery. But Bethlehem Cemetery can claim at least 3 branches, and 4 if Isabella was a daughter. Furthermore, their daughter Ann never married. She lived with J&M for decades. By 1870, Ann was living with her older sister, Amy Kincaid, in Fannin Co, GA. Amy is buried in the Old Antioch Church Cemetery, which is now surrounded by Blue Ridge Lake, near Morganton. I have been to this cemetery twice and can clearly make out Amy's grave and some of her family, but I have not seen a grave for Ann. She may be there, or she may be buried with her parents, J&M. If so, it is possible she could be a 5th branch of J&M's clan buried at BC.
Bottom line... I now understand so much more about where this family lived during the 1830's and 40's - a time which is pivotal in determining where J&M would be buried. No family cemeteries are known for any of the family during this time. Even George's cemetery in Ivy Log, which at all appearances seems like a family cemetery, has been suggested as being a former church graveyard at one time. That would stand to reason as Bethlehem wasn't established until 1848. Prior to that time, George had his own lot in Ivy Log further north from the rest of the group in Lower Young Cane, and may have attended a different church than the rest of the clan until after his wife died. His wife's last child was born in June 1845. Rebecca may have died in childbirth. No one knows for sure, but I have heard this conjectured at times. George sold off all of this Ivy Log lot in 1847, so he clearly was living on his Lower Young Cane lot no later than 1847, a year before the church there was established.
George is the only one that had lived that far north in Ivy Log. The rest of the group was in Lower Young Cane, except for John Jr who moved NW to Dooly (around modern Fannin Co line) and Amy Kincaid who moved to Morganton, GA (modern Fannin Co). However, they all started out on Amos' 1833 lot, 1/2 mile SE of Bethlehem Church Cemetery. And George's Lower Young Cane lot where he was living by 1847 was connected at one corner to Amos' lot, both being within 1/2 mile of BC.
I have never seen so much evidence pointing to one cemetery. I have recently discovered there exists an "Old Minute Book" for Bethlehem Church, and I know George at the very least is mentioned in it. I know it goes back to the 1860's and hopefully earlier. I hope to be able to see this book sometime in the next couple weeks. Perhaps we can glean even more details from those records.
All roads begin with Lower Young Cane - and Bethlehem Cemetery. For John and Margaret, all roads may have ended there, as well.
There's always more data waiting to be found...