Arts & Culture
3:47 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Bluegrass Musician Buried in Unmarked Somerset Grave to Get Proper Marker, Ceremony

Leonard Rutherford (left) and Dick Burnett. It was recently discovered that Rutherford was buried in an unmarked cemetery in Somerset.
Leonard Rutherford (left) and Dick Burnett. It was recently discovered that Rutherford was buried in an unmarked cemetery in Somerset.
Credit Kentucky Explorer

A bluegrass musician buried in an unmarked grave in Somerset is going to receive a proper grave marker this weekend.

Leonard Rutherford was a popular bluegrass artist in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, and performed as part of the Burnett-Rutherford Duo.

But Rutherford fell on hard times and was found dead along a Somerset road in 1951 at the age of 53.

Somerset Cemetery manager Tricia Neal says Rutherford's grave site was only recently identified when a local historian began asking about the long-forgotten musician.

"I started looking and I couldn't find him anywhere,” Neal told WKU Public Radio. “And I ended up just finding a penciled-in name on the back of an old index card. It had a note where he had been buried in this grave, and I went out to the cemetery and found it."

The Commonwealth Journal first reported a ceremony is being held at the Somerset Cemetery Saturday afternoon to honor Rutherford's life and music. Neal says one of Rutherford's sons is traveling from Pennsylvania to be at the Saturday afternoon ceremony in Pulaski County, along with a grandson from Michigan.

Recordings of the Burnett-Rutherford duo will be played, and Neal says anyone with an instrument is invited to participate in a bluegrass music jam following the ceremony.

You can hear a recording of the Burnett-Rutherford duo here.