Recently, two old, adjoining, cemeteries in Rennert, home to ancestors of McNairs and Tolars, were witness to some especially paranormal happenings. Two men tried their skill with dowsing, or divining, rods to try and locate unmarked graves at the site.
Michael Locklear, the mayor of Rennert, and William Pate, Jr., the author of the book Survival of the Lost Colony, were invited by Tommy Hall, who has unofficially become keeper of the McNair Cemetery on behalf of St. Pauls Presbyterian Church, to the hallowed ground last Saturday.
Dowsing rods are most famous for being able to help locate underground minerals or water, such as might be used for wells. But they also are used to help determine if their are unmarked graves in the are being surveyed.
When they first tried out the metal dowsing rods, the two men were delighted and excited to find that they did indeed hit on marked graves in the plots.
Next, according to Hall, the two tried their dowsing rods on areas that did not contain marked graves. Again, the rods held by both men behaved as though possible gravesites lay in a fairly orderly manner in line with the other graves that are identified by stone or even wooden grave markers.
Many dowsers today use a pair of simple, L-shaped metal rods, whereas willow or witch hazel branches were used centuries ago. One rod is held in each hand with the long arm pointing forward. When something is found, the rods cross each other forming an X that marks the spot. The divining or dowsing rod is in a state of unstable equilibrium from which slight movements can be amplified.
Further research will be necessary to determine if and where other, unmarked, graves exist at the cemetery site.
The McNair cemetery is home to a freestanding, 20 feet tall, stone obelisk or column. It is the final resting place for many members of the McNair family.
Duncan McNair, the patriarch, has a marble monument in his honor located inside St. Pauls Presbyterian Church, where he served as its first Ruling Elder in organizing the church (from which St. Pauls takes its name) in 1799.
The two cemeteries are accessible by car from Rennert Road.