Okie Road Trip 2019: Stopping by Moon, Miss.’s Barbee Cemetery (Two Forrests and Five Wives)

Our next stop was Barbee Cemetery, located very close to the Mississippi/Arkansas border in the tiny town of Moon in Coahoma County. What earned it a spot on our itinerary was because it was alleged to have been established on an Indian mound.

Nearby is the Yazoo Pass, a small, winding stream that connects Moon Lake to the Coldwater River. Long ago, several large plantations were started near Moon Lake. Mound Place was a large plantation owned by James Lusk Alcorn, who established a post office by 1860. The Barbee family for whom the cemetery is named lived near Mount Place.

Barbee Cemetery is thought to be located on an Indian mound, but I’m not sure that’s true.

When we pulled up to the cemetery, which is off a busy thoroughfare called the Blues Highway, we did see what looked like a mound. Whether or not it is an authentic Indian mound, I don’t know. There is frustratingly little information about this cemetery. But because there are Indian mounds located in this area, it very well could be.

According to Find a Grave, there are nearly 500 burials recorded at Barbee Cemetery. The sign says it was established in 1850. The oldest marked grave belongs to Thomas Barbee, who died in 1865. There are 33 Barbees buried there.

Barbee Cemetery was established in 1850.

Meet the Barbees

There’s a historical marker near the road that talks about Hunt’s Mill, the site of a brief 1863 Civil War skirmish. William and Thomas Hunt owned and operated Hunt’s Mill, which Thomas Barbee and his relatives used.

Barbee Cemetery is located close to what was Hunt’s Mill, a Civil War skirmish.

Thanks to Cliff Dean, who writes the blog My Delta World, I found a little information on Thomas Barbee. He was a local farmer who owned land near Hunt’s Mill, and his father and brother lived in the area. Dean explains that during the Civil War, Confederate partisans were common. These partisans were irregular cavalry units made up of men who would fight as regular soldiers and then return home as citizens. Thomas Barbee was a member of one of these partisan bands.

Dean’s blog post explains how Thomas got detained by Union forces in March 1863 not long after the brief Battle of Hunt’s Mill but returned home safely a few months later. In 1865, he crossed paths with Confederate Capt. William Forest, brother of noted Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest. Forrest was in the Mississippi Delta looking for horses and mules.  He and his men took some from Thomas and then traveled to nearby Friars Point.  Thomas went to get his property back, but was killed by Captain Forrest. Ironically, Forrest claimed he thought Barbee was a Union man.

An added touch of irony is that another Forrest brother, Capt. Aaron Forrest, was present at the Battle of Hunt’s Mill back in March 1863.

Thomas Barbee died at age 33, the exact day in 1865 in which he died is unknown. His wife, Susan Morgan Barbee, died in 1872 and is buried near him.

A Confederate partisan, Thomas Barbee was killed by Confederate Capt. William Forrest in 1865.

Ophelia Barbee Haynes Sanders

Thomas and Susan Barbee’s youngest child, Ophelia Annie Barbee, was born on Dec. 10, 1864. So she never knew her father, and her mother died when she was 8. She has one of the most unusual graves in the cemetery so I wanted to find out more about her.

Ophelia’s Find a Grave memorial states that she married Elisha Thomas Haynes on May 24, 1877, making her 13 years old at the time. Not unheard of in those days. She and Elisha had nine children together. Elisha died on April 13, 1899 at age 45.

Elisha’s monument is pretty interesting in itself. He must have been a member of Woodmen of the World because he has a nicely carved tree monument. I noticed there are a number of WOW graves at Barbee Cemetery. His surname is spelled out in the woodsy font WOW is known for. Not all tree monuments are WOW markers, but this one is. How can you tell? There are clues.

Elijah. T. Haynes has a handsome Woodmen of the World monument, with his surname in a woodsy-themed font at the base.

In the photo below, you can see the mallet and axe that were WOW symbols. Note that the bottom of the mallet is resting above the WOW motto (not easy to see through the lichen) “Dum Tacet Clamat,” which means “Though silent, he speaks.” You can also just make out a bird in the upper right corner, another WOW symbol.

The mallet, axe, and bird were three of the symbols of Woodmen of the World.

But that’s not the end. There was a sweet surprise hiding behind that tree! I don’t know which came first, the circle or the tree. But it definitely reminded me of the ones we had just seen at Oxford Memorial Cemetery and reinforcedmy theory that this type of grave marker was a regional favorite.

Elisha T. Haynes also has a grave circle to mark his final resting place. You can barely see his name at the foot of it.

Ophelia operated a boarding house in Denton (about 35 miles from Barbee Cemetery) after Elisha died, where she met her second husband, William Benjamin Sanders. He was a widower with children of his own. They wed in 1901. One of William Sanders’ daughters, Helen Josephine Sanders, would later married Ophelia and E.T. Haynes’s son, Wendell Thomas Haynes, Sr.

Ophelia and her new family eventually moved to Memphis, where she worked as a housekeeper. She died there on Nov. 10, 1910 at age 45 due to complications from gallstones. She was brought home for burial beside Elijah. Let’s take a look at her grave.

The Old Rugged Cross

Ophelia is interred in an above ground brick vault, covered in what I believe to be some kind of plaster. It is fronted by a monument clearly stamped with the Supreme Forest of the Woodmen Circle. This was a women’s auxiliary to Woodmen of the World. The emblem for the SFWC is a shield with stars and stripes and crossed axes. One of its very attractive benefits was life insurance for women, a radical idea in its day. Since Eliijah was a WOW member, it’s not surprising Ophelia was in the Woodmen Circle. It also carries the popular “Old Rugged Cross” theme frequently seen on monuments of that era.

Ophelia Barbee Haynes Sanders belonged to the Woodmen Circle, an auxiliary group for wives of Woodmen of the World members.
There are some lovely details in this carving, including the young woman’s hair and the heel of her delicate foot.

It would be wonderful if Ophelia’s vault were properly sealed and her monument cleaned. Here’s a side view.

Here’s a side view of Ophelia’s vault, which is in need of repair.

Leigh Haynes (1890-1895), one of the children of Ophelia and Elijah who died in childhood, is buried beside them. Amelia Barbee Haynes (1855-1883), Ophelia’s older sister who married Andrew Jackson Haynes, is buried nearby.

One Man, Five Wives

Ophelia and Amelia’s older brother, John Elijah Barbee (1848-1912), the eldest Barbee child, is also buried in Barbee Cemetery. He was married five times, with his last wife outliving him. I can’t say I’ve ever encountered such a situation. Three wives? Yes. Four wives? I think once or twice. But never five.

John Elijah Barbee shares a monument with his first two wives, Fannie and Mary.

Keeping track of John Barbee’s wives is no easy task but thanks to Ancestry, I think I’ve got them in proper order. There’s a note that says: “John married 5 times – his marker is in the Lula Cemetery (formerly the Barbee Cemetery). As each wife died, the previous wives were moved down the hill so that the 4th wife is buried closest to his tombstone. (The 5th wife outlived him by many years).” That’s not exactly true. His first three wives are buried at Barbee Cemetery, the fourth and fifth are buried elsewhere.

John Elijah Haynes had five wives over his lifetime. The last one outlived him. (Photo source: Ancestry.com)

John married Sinna Fannie Franklin in January 1874, they had two sons named Thomas (1874-1891) and Willie (1876). Both are buried at Barbee Cemetery. Oddly, Fannie’s side of the grave marker she shares with John and second wife, Mary, is inscribed with the death date Oct. 30, 1874. That would make it impossible for her to have given birth to Willie in 1876. I think this stone wasn’t carved until after John died in 1912 and an error was made. I believe she died on Oct. 20, 1876 or 1877. She would have been in her mid 20s.

Is Fannie Franklin Barbee’s death date incorrect?

John married Mary C. Bird on Dec. 5, 1878. They had three children, John (1879-1899), Letha (1882-1946), and Robert (1884-1912). Mary died on Oct. 20, 1884, about a month after giving birth to Robert.

Mary Bird Barbee died a month after giving birth to a son, Robert, in 1884.

Wife #3 was Viola Stovall, and this marriage was rather quick. She and John were married on Dec. 9, 1884, less than two months after Mary died. They had three children, Fannie (1886-1969), Walter (1888-1924), and Lester (1891-1959). Viola died on March 1, 1899 at age 32. She has her own monument further down the hill at Barbee Cemetery, I did not get a photo of it.

At some point later in 1899, John married widow Inez Hill Bridger. She had two daughters from her first marriage. I don’t believe they had any children together. She died on May 21, 1901 at age 30. She is buried at Rose Hill Cemetery in Sardis, Miss. with her first husband, William Henry Bridger.

John married a final time to Jennie Gordon in 1902. They had two daughters, Amelia (1904-1983) and Ophelia (1905-1995), named after John’s sisters. John died on Jan. 9, 1912 at age 63. Jennie did not remarry and died on Jan. 14, 1936 at age 71. She is buried at Blue Mountain Cemetery in Tippah County, Miss.

Burials are still taking place at Barbee Cemetery, the latest one recorded is January 2022. The newer graves are toward the back side of the cemetery away from the mound.

Burials are still taking place at Barbee Cemetery.

It was time to leave Mississippi to cross the border into Arkansas to visit two very different cemeteries in Helena. I hope you’ll join me there next time.

Heading into Arkansas for more adventures on the Okie Road Trip!

Okie Road Trip 2019: Visiting Mississippi’s Oxford Memorial Cemetery, Part III (Circles, a Winchester, and a Judge)

It’s time to wrap things up at Oxford Memorial Cemetery but I have a lot more to show you before I’m done.

When I looked at my photos from this cemetery, I noticed the profusion of oblong-shaped grave markers with open centers. Some of them are plain. Some of them are wood-themed, with little nubs on them. It’s not like I haven’t seen this style before. But not so many and not over such a long time span. If you look below, you can see an example of the West family plot. These are plain round circles. You can even see one that is smaller for a child.

Sometimes the family plots featured a larger surname marker with individual rings, the Falkner family has that kind of set up.

These circles did afford a family the opportunity to plant flowers inside the ring if they chose to. I have seen that done. But I didn’t see that happening here, probably because the graves are older and there’s nobody left to care for the flowers regularly.

The West family plot features plain oblong markers with an open grass center. In Linda Branham West’s case on the far right, you only get her age at the time of her death. No birth or death dates.

Segregation in the Cemetery

Like many cemeteries, Oxford Memorial Cemetery used to be segregated. I don’t know when that changed but there’s definitely an area for black graves. I use the term “black” and not “African-American” because in looking at the dates on some of those graves, the deceased were potentially native-born Africans who were enslaved part of their lives. I mentioned William Faulkner’s family servant, Callie Clark, in Part I of this series. She is buried in this area of the cemetery.

This is the grave for Anna Seward. I could find nothing about her beyond the fact she was thought to be 60 years old when she died on Sept. 15, 1893. That would have made her date of birth around 1833, so it’s possible she was born in Africa. While her marker rests on the ground, she does have a “woodsy” style circle around her grave but it is filled in and not open.

I’ve featured wood-themed and tree-shaped markers in many of my past blog posts. The 1890s were a prime time for this theme so it’s not a surprise you’d find it here at this time. Part of me wonders if it came sometime later. I suspect the marker was there first and the circle came later.

Little is known about Ann Steward.

Then you have the nearby grave of Tamar Patton, born at the end of the Civil War in 1865. Born in Tennessee, she was first married to a man with the last name of Orange. By 1900, she was widowed and in 1910, had remarried to Steven Patton. She spent the last three decades of her life in Lafayette County where Oxford is located.

Tamar Patton’s grave has the “woodsy” themed circle. Her will set aside funds for its purchase.

Tamar died in the later half of 1923 at age 58. She must have known her death was near because she prepared a will in March of that year. It was probated in June 1923. Her will tells us she had eight children and she bequeathed what funds she had (after paying for her grave, funeral, and debts) to those children. Two of those children, Joseph and and James, were minors when she died. Steven Patton is not mentioned at all but I suspect he may have been deceased already.

Tamar’s marker has the same wood-themed circle as Ann Steward, but she has a square with her name incorporated into it.

I also photographed the graves of William Hair and his wife, Nancy Jane Wheeler Hair, buried across the way. They were white. According to U.S. Census records, it looks like both William and Nancy were born in the 1850s in Mississippi. They wed in 1888 in Layette County. I don’t think they ever had any children but a nephew was living with them in 1910.

William and Nancy Hair died within seven years of each other.

William died at age 70 in 1927 and Nancy died in June 1934 at age 77. You can see that their grave circles are plain with the square at the base.

Accident With a Winchester Rifle

In some cases, I found a circle with an attached monument. This pair was made for Eugene Gaither Smith (1868-1901) and his wife, Annie Carter Smith (1873-1958). Annie outlived Eugene by 57 years. I knew there had to be a story there.

I apologize for the poor quality of this photo. The sun going down cast shadows and as you can see, that made an impact.

Eugene G. Smith died at age 32 in 1901 from an accidental gunshot wound. His grave marker features an anchor, a sunrise, and the three links of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF).

Born in Mississippi in 1868, Eugene married Annie Carter in Panola County, Miss. on Dec. 18, 1895. Their daughter, Gaither, was born on Oct. 27, 1898. The family moved to Memphis, Tenn. and Eugene got a job inspecting railroad cars for the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Memphis Railroad. They had a second daughter, Pauline, in 1900.

Sometime in May 1901, Eugene fell ill with malaria. He was out of work for several weeks but after recovering, returned to work on June 14, 1901. Later that morning, he was found dead from a gunshot wound from a Winchester rifle found nearby leaning up against a wall in the corner of the car inspector’s shed.

Partial article reporting Eugene Smith’s death in the June 15, 1901 Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tenn.)

The above article detailed that while at first Eugene’s death was thought to be a suicide, this was later ruled out. Co-worker James Matthews owned the Winchester and kept it in the corner of the shed. Eugene had a habit of going into the shed every morning to borrow some tobacco out of the jacket Matthews kept with his rifle. The conclusion was drawn that Eugene continued his habit that day, but this time jostling the rifle and accidentally setting it off.

All the same, it was a terrible tragedy. Annie remained in Memphis with Gaither and Pauline, sharing her home with her half-brother, Nathan, who was a machinist, and a boarder. By 1920, Nathan had moved out. But Gaither and Pauline were both working as stenographers to support the household, along with a fellow stenographer who boarded with them. Gaither married James E. Rogers on Oct. 6, 1920.

Annie joined Eugene 57 years after he died in 1901 in Oxford Memorial Cemetery.

By 1930, Annie had moved to New Albany, Miss. with Gaither and her family, which included a grandson. Pauline married and remained in Memphis. Annie returned to Memphis at some point to live with Pauline and her family. She died at the age of 85 on July 19, 1958. Her body was sent home to Oxford for burial beside Eugene.

While it is difficult to see, Eugene’s marker has a number of symbols on it. An anchor signifying hope since he was never a sailor or worked in the maritime trade. A sunrise, which I’m not sure about in terms of what it means. There are also the three links of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF), signifying friendship, love, and truth. He was a member of that fraternal order.

So what can we conclude from all these grave circles? I can only guess that the major stone mason in the area from the 1880s to the 1920s offered these to his Oxford clients and they bought them. It may have simply been a regional trend because I found more at the next cemetery I visited down the road.

Oxford’s District Judge Robert A. Hill

Judge Robert Andrews Hill (1811-1900) has no grave circles of any kind in his plot, which he shares with his wife, daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren. But I was intrigued by his career and his family so I wanted to feature it.

Born in Iredell County, N.C. in 1811, Hill was the son of David Hill and Rhoda Andrews. The Hills moved to Tennessee when Robert was young. He wed Mary Andrews in 1833. They would later have two children, Robert (who died in childhood) and Marietta “Metta”.

Hill was elected a constable in 1834 and later became a justice of the peace. He resigned in 1844 to take up the practice of law, doing so in Waynesboro, Tenn., until 1847, when the legislature chose him as a state district attorney general. He held that position until his defeat in an 1855 popular election. That year, he moved to Tishomingo County, Miss. to form a law partnership with John F. Arnold. In 1858, he was elected probate judge of Tishomingo County, a post he held until 1865.

The monument for Judge Robert Andrews Hill and his wife, Mary.

A Whig before the war and a Republican after it, Hill favored the Lincoln-Johnson plans for constitutional measures for the restoration of the South. He served as a delegate to the 1865 Mississippi constitutional convention.

Robert Hill’s appointment to district judge is memorialized on the side of his monument.

In 1866, Pres. Andrew Johnson appointed Hill to the federal judiciary for the two districts that made up Mississippi. The court moved from Pontotoc to Oxford, where Judge Hill took up residence. In 1875, he publicly called on the voters of Mississippi “of both races and all parties” to peaceably register and vote in congressional elections and thereby show “to the world that, though composed of different races and entertaining different opinions, we are capable of self-government and can live in peace.”

I do think Judge Hill must have had a sense of humor. I found this anecdote about him in the newspaper.

From the Dec. 20, 1900 edition of the Democratic -Herald (Charleston, Miss.)

Hill was elected president of the Mississippi State Bar Association in January 1889 while a sitting federal judge. He retired from the federal bench in 1891 and continued to live in Oxford, where he served as a trustee of Ole Miss. His wife, Mary, passed away on Dec. 12, 1898. Judge Hill died at age 89 on July 2, 1900.

The epitaph on Judge Hill’s monument.

Judge Hill left the bulk of his estate to his daughter, Metta, who married George Hill. George also worked in the courts. They had two children, Myrtle and Robert Jr. Judge Hill’s will singles out Robert Jr., leaving him his gold watch, his gold-headed cane, and money for law books and law school tuition. He clearly thought much of him and his future.

A Sad Footnote

Sadly, Robert Jr. would die only three years after his grandfather. On Aug. 1, 1903, he married a young lady named Bessie Dismukes while “sitting in a buggy at Gallatin, Tenn.” according to his obituary. His parents were reportedly very displeased at this. Despondent over their reaction, Robert overdosed on morphine at the Maxwell House Hotel in Nashville, Tenn. five days later and died on Aug 6, 1903 at age 26.

Robert Jr., George, and Metta Hill are buried together in the Hill family plot. Myrtle’s small marker is in the back left corner.

Robert’s death took a toll on his parents. George Hill went into a decline and died in Biloxi, Miss. on July 17, 1907 at age 72. Metta died a few years later on Nov. 8, 1910 at age 67. The three of them are buried together. Myrtle, who never married, died in 1938 and is also buried with them, but her marker is much smaller and in the back corner behind them.

Later that night, Sarah and I went into downtown Oxford to have dinner and walk around. It has a beautiful town square with plenty of shops and restaurants for visitors and college students alike.

Next time, I’ll be at Barbee Cemetery near the Mississippi/Arkansas border.

Bem Price (1850-1903) was an Oxford, Miss. banker.

Okie Road Trip 2019: Visiting Mississippi’s Oxford Memorial Cemetery, Part II (Two Soldiers and a College President/Author)

Now that we’ve got the Faulkner/Falkner family sorted out, let’s move on to the other folks buried at Oxford Memorial Cemetery.

Just a sample of the wrought iron fencing at Oxford Memorial Cemetery.

A Transplanted Patriot

It wasn’t until this week that I realized I’d managed to photograph the grave of the only Revolutionary War veteran buried in the cemetery. This fellow has a Georgia connection.

Born on May 6, 1759 in Luenberg, Va., Daniel Green McKie was one of three sons born to Scottish immigrant Michael McKie. In 1778 at age 19, Daniel joined Hobson’s Virginia Regiment under the command of Gen. Nathanael Greene. Now that name rings a bell! You can read about Gen. Greene and how his remains were moved from Savannah, Ga.’s Colonial Cemetery to Johnson Square in 1901 in this blog post.

Portrait of General Nathanael Greene by Charles Wilson Peale in 1783, just a few years before he died.

McKie fought during the entire Revolutionary War and won praise for his actions at the Battles of Stone Mountain and Guilford Courthouse. He was rewarded with a promotion to the rank of Lieutenant.

On March 14, 1794, Lt. McKie wed Frances Herndon, a direct descendant of Sir Dudley Diggs, a Colonial governor of Virginia. They moved to Columbia, S.C. and raised six boys together. After experiencing financial difficulties in 1836, the lure of cheap land in Mississippi due to the Chickasaw Cession spurred McKie to move his family again. He died in Holly Springs, Miss. on Nov. 16, 1839 at age 80.

At the dedication of his grave at Oxford Memorial by the David Reese Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1927, McKie’s granddaughter is reported to have said, “He must have been a picturesque figure as he always wore full Colonial dress, exactly as we see in pictures of Washington and LaFayette.”

Lieut. Daniel McKie died about three years after moving to Mississippi.

The Oxford-based chapter of the Mississippi Society of the Sons of the American Revolution is named after Lieut. Daniel McKie.

A Little-Known War

There’s another soldier buried at Oxford Memorial, but he died at the start of a war we don’t often associate with Mississippi. That’s the Mexican-American War.

The Mexican-American War (1846-1848) marked the first U.S. armed conflict chiefly fought on foreign soil. It pitted a politically divided and militarily unprepared Mexico against the expansionist-minded administration of U.S. President James K. Polk, who believed the U.S. had a “manifest destiny” to spread across the continent to the Pacific Ocean.

Col. Jefferson Davis leading the First Mississippi at the Battle of Buena Vista, from a painting by Alexandra Alaux. (Photo Source: Mississippi Department of Archives and History.)

There was strong popular support for the war in many states. In Mississippi, the response to a call for 1,000 volunteers was so great that by June 1, 1846, an estimated 17,000 men were in Vicksburg wanting to enlist.

Among them was 25-year-old Thomas L. Jones, son of Georgia native and War of 1812 veteran John Peyton Jones and Tabitha Wheelwright Whatley Jones. He enlisted as a private and was assigned to Company K (the Tombigee Guards) of the First Mississippi, which became known as the Mississippi Rifles.

But it was not to be. While waiting with his fellow soldiers to head out, Thomas contracted congestive fever, which is sometimes thought to be malaria. He died on July 12, 1846 in Vicksburg.

Thomas Jones’ death notice appeared in the Paulding, Miss. True Democrat on July 22, 1846.

Thomas is buried to the right of his parents in the center of a circle of trees.

Thomas Jones is buried in this circle of trees with his parents. His sister and her husband are buried behind them.

There’s a heartfelt inscription on the back of his monument, which is a broken column. This indicates a life cut short.

The inscription on the back of Thomas Jones’ monument.

Uncle of a Confederate General

As we were exploring, I noticed a surname I was familiar with, one well known in Civil War history. Augustus Baldwin Longstreet (1790-1870) was the uncle of Confederate General James Longstreet. I wrote about him and his grave at Gainesville, Ga.’s Alta Vista Cemetery in 2017.

Born in Augusta, Ga. on Sept. 22, 1790 to Hannah Randolph and William Longstreet, Augustus Longstreet wore many hats during his lifetime. He graduated from Yale University in 1811 and was admitted to the Georgia bar in 1815. He met Frances Eliza Parke and they married in 1817. Of their eight children, only two — daughters Frances Eliza and Virginia Lafayette — lived to adulthood.

In 1821, Longstreet began a term in the Georgia General Assembly representing Greene County, a term cut short the following year when the assembly appointed him to serve for three years as the judge of the Superior Court of the Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit. In 1824, Longstreet was campaigning for the U.S. Congress when the death of his first-born child, Alfred, prompted him to withdraw from the race. Longstreet’s grief led him to earnestly read the Bible and to pray, and soon he was “a thorough believer in Christianity.”

Augustus B. Longstreet greatly influenced the life of his nephew, Confederate Gen. James Longstreet.

After his judgeship ended, Longstreet and his family moved to Augusta. He joined the Methodist church in 1827 and felt called to preach the following year. In 1828, he was licensed to preach locally and his full-time ministerial career began in December 1838, when he became a traveling Methodist minister.

James Longstreet came to live with the his uncle’s family in Augusta to attend Richmond County Academy. When Augustus’ brother, also named James, died in 1833, he became even more of a father figure to his nephew.

Author, Minister, and College President

In 1835, Longstreet published “Georgia Scenes, Characters, Incidents, Etc, in the First Half Century of the Republic”, a book of humorous sketches which were based on life in the South. Poet Edgar Allan Poe gave it a rave review, and in 1840 the book was re-issued by Harper and Brothers. Longstreet’s goal was (in his words) “to supply a chasm in history which has always been overlooked — the manners, customs, amusements, wit, dialect as they appear in all grades of society to an ear and eye witness of them.”

Longstreet’s brief career as a full-time minister ended when he became president of Emory College in Oxford, Ga. in January 1840. Four years later, he resigned his post to serve briefly as president of Centenary College in Jackson, La. He was president of Ole Miss from 1849 to 1856. After briefly retiring, he was offered the presidency of South Carolina College (later the University of South Carolina) where he served until 1861 when the Civil War began.

Augustus Longstreet’s wife, Frances, preceded him in death in 1869.

Longstreet moved to Oxford, Miss., where his ill wife had been living with one of their daughters. In December 1862, Federal troops reached Oxford and burned his house. The Longstreets relocated to Oxford, Ga., and then to Columbus, Ga. After the war, the Longstreets lived in Oxford, Miss., where Frances died in 1869. Augustus Longstreet died on July 9, 1870 at age 79.

The inscription on the Longstreet family monument is not easy to read so I am thankful to the person who transcribed it for Augustus’ memorial on Find a Grave. Longstreet apparently wrote it not long before he died:

He sleeps by the side of his wife of whom he never thought himself worthy and who never thought herself worthy of her husband. In every innocent movement of his life, she went hand in hand and heart in heart with him for over Fifty-one years. Death was a kind visitor to them both.

Augustus Longstreet wrote his own epitaph shortly before he died in 1870.

A Lingering Mystery

There is a bit of a mysterious footnote that I’m still trying to solve and that is the fate of Augustus Longstreet’s grandson, Augustus Longstreet Branham. Born on Sept. 7, 1847, he was the son of Longstreet’s daughter Frances Eliza Longstreet Branham and Dr. Henry Branham. Augustus Branham died on Sept. 17, 1867 according to the family monument. But how and where did he die?

How did Augustus Longstreet Branham die?

I truly Googled my heart out on this one but to little avail. Ancestry yielded little beyond census records of his living with his family in Oxford in 1850 and 1860. But he vanishes after that. However, I did find a curious paragraph in the church history of England’s Nutfield Parish Church, the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, located south of London. It says:

Opposite, on the North wall, is a fascinating alcove behind a brass memorial plate, the ‘ghost cupboard’!  Was it the Easter sepulchre, or simply a cupboard, in the days before vestries were thought of?  The poignant memorial is to a young American lad, Augustus Longstreet Branham, who died on his way home to New York after a visit to this country. There is a Hall of Residence named after him in Oxford, Miss.

This was puzzling indeed because I could find no Branham Hall listed on the Ole Miss web site. What is the New York connection? Did Branham spend time in England? If anyone reading this knows, please contact me as I’d love to know what happened to him.

More to come next time in Part III!

Monument to Belle Murray Sullivan (1837-1895), wife of U.S. Congressman and Senator William Van Amberg Sullivan.

Okie Road Trip 2019: Visiting Mississippi’s Oxford Memorial Cemetery (Faulkner Family), Part I

We made it into Mississippi and headed for Oxford, home of the University of Mississippi. It’s better known as Old Miss. Sunset was fast approaching and I hoped to get to Oxford Memorial Cemetery before I ran out of light.

Just a logistical note. The city of Oxford owns Old Oxford, St. Peter’s, and Oxford Memorial Cemetery. I’m going to refer to it as Oxford Memorial Cemetery for clarity. There are no true dividing lines between the sections other than perhaps the age of some of the tombstones, The entire cemetery is technically owned by the city under the umbrella of Oxford Memorial Cemetery. Find a Grave has about 5,600 recorded memorials online.

The first person I went looking for is buried very close to the road on a hillside under some lovely shade. His name is so woven into Mississippi’s history that there was no way I was missing a stop at his grave, located in the St. Peter’s section.

The graves of William Faulkner and his wife, Estelle, are located in the St. Peter’s section of Oxford Memorial Cemetery.

A Nobel Laureate’s Grave

Confession time. I’m not a fan of William Faulkner’s writing. I offer my humble apologies to those of you who may be from Mississippi and/or are huge fans of his. I was assigned to read the novel Absalom, Absalom! in college and barely made it through. He’s just not my cup of tea. But I know he is beloved by many and his work is greatly treasured in literary circles. People travel from afar to Oxford just to visit his grave for good reason.

A native New Albany, Miss., Faulkner’s family moved to Oxford when he was young. When World War I began, he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force but did not serve in combat. Returning to Oxford, he attended Ole Miss for three semesters before dropping out. He moved to New Orleans, where he wrote his first novel Soldiers’ Pay in 1925. Returning to Oxford, he wrote Sartoris in 1927, his first work set in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County.

In 1929, Faulkner married Estelle Oldham, who brought with her two children from her previous marriage. Faulkner and Estelle later had a daughter, Jill, in 1933. In 1929, he published The Sound and the Fury and the following year, wrote As I Lay Dying. Hoping for greater economic success, he went to Hollywood to work as a screenwriter.

A Nobel Prize laureate, Faulkner is one of the most celebrated writers of American literature.

Faulkner’s fame reached its peak upon publication of Malcolm Cowley’s The Portable Faulkner and his being awarded the 1949 Nobel Prize in literature. He is the only Mississippi-born Nobel laureate. Two of his works, A Fable (1954) and his last novel The Reivers (1962), won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Faulkner’s economic success enabled him to purchase Rowan Oak, an estate in Oxford. He died from a heart attack on July 6, 1962, following a fall from his horse the prior month. Estelle and their daughter, Jill, lived at Rowan Oak until Estelle’s death in 1972.

William Faulkner died after having a heart attack on July 6, 1962. His wife, Estelle, died 10 years later.

One of Estelle’s children from her first marriage to Cornell Franklin, Malcolm Argyle Franklin (1923-1977), is buried in the plot with them.

Ole Miss literature students have a tradition of gathering at Faulkner’s grave to toast the Deep South’s foremost author. But no empty whiskey bottles were littering his grave on the day we stopped by.

“Her White Children Bless Her”

Further into the cemetery, I found the grave of Caroline “Callie” Barr Clark (1840-1940). Born into slavery, Callie started working for William Faulkner’s mother, Maud, in 1902. In later years, Callie lived in a cottage behind William Faulkner’s home in Oxford. She died there at the age of 100 in 1940. Both Faulkner and his brother, John, wrote affectionately of her.

Callie Clark worked for the Faulkner family for 38 years.

Callie’s relationship with the Faulkner family might be viewed by many today as paternalistic, but I don’t doubt that their love for her was real. Over the years, Callie shared stories of pre-Civil War and Reconstruction times from her own memories with the Faulkner children. William conducted her funeral in Rowan Oak’s living room, and arranged for her burial and grave marker.

Callie is thought to be the inspiration for the character of Dilsey Gibson in The Sound and the Fury, Cal’line Nelson in Soldier’s Pay, and Molly Beauchamp in Go Down, Moses.

Callie Clark inspired a number of characters in Faulkner’s books.

Faulkner dedicated Go Down, Moses to Callie in 1942, saying:

“To MAMMY Mississippi [1840-1940] who was born in slavery and gave to my family fidelity without stint or calculation of recompense and to my childhood an immeasurable devotion and love.”

A Rose By Any Other Name

Not far from Callie’s grave you can see the large Falkner family plot dominated by a large obelisk. You’ll notice the slightly different spelling of the name. There’s a rather complicated story there.

I’ve read that the family actually spelled it “Faulkner” many years before but Faulkner’s great-grandfather dropped the “u” so it became “Falkner”. William started spelling his last name “Faulkner” sometime after 1924. His brother John changed his last name to Faulkner when he published his own first novel “Men Working”. Brother Murry kept his as “Falkner” and brother Dean (who died in a 1936 plane crash) has the last name “Falkner” on his grave marker.

The Falkner family plot is dominated by a large obelisk.

The obelisk in the center of the plot is for William Faulkner’s grandparents, John Wesley Thompson Falkner (1848-1922) and Sallie McAlpine Murry Falkner (1850-1906). It’s quite something to see up close, with images of John and Sallie’s profiles carved into it.

John Wesley Thompson Falkner was the first president of the First National Bank of Oxford (now FNB Oxford-Tupelo).
William Faulkner’s grandmother, Sallie, was the daughter of Dr. John Young Murry and Emily Virginia Holcombe Murry of Ripley, Miss.

I didn’t find much about John and Sallie because apparently great-grandfather Col. William Clark Falkner was a much more colorful character who grabs the spotlight. But because he’s buried in Ripley Cemetery elsewhere in Mississippi, I’m not going to go into his background. I do know that John Falkner is thought to be the model for Bayard Sartoris in the Yoknapatawpha novels.

John Falkner was also the first president of the First National Bank of Oxford, now known as FNB Oxford-Tupelo. According to a 2020 Facebook post from the bank, John Falkner’s desk was located in the middle of the lobby so he could observe all business being conducted. William Faulkner learned of his great-grandfather’s many exploits from his grandfather over the years.

Faulkner’s parents are also buried in the Falkner plot. That’s his father, Murry, on the far right.

Murry Cuthbert Falkner, William Faulkner’s father, is buried in the grave on the far right.

William Faulkner’s parents were Murry Cuthbert Falkner (1870-1932) and Maud Butler Falkner (1871-1960). Murry worked for the family-owned railroad of which the president had been his grandfather, Col. Falkner. It was when Murry and Maud were living in New Albany in 1897 that William was born. Shortly after, the family moved back to Ripley, where sons John and Murry were born. When the railroad was sold, Murry and his family moved to Oxford, where fourth son, Dean, was born. In Oxford, Murry Falkner (the father) was at one time the business manager of Ole Miss.

Alabama Faulkner

There’s one Faulkner that I wanted to mention that I didn’t even know about until I started working on this post this week.

William and Estelle Faulkner had their first child on Jan. 11, 1931 and named her Alabama. Born two months premature, the baby couldn’t consume any type of milk available in that day, including breast milk, cow’s milk, goat’s milk, or powdered milk. Formula didn’t exist then.

While incubators were a brand new feature at Memphis, Tenn. hospitals, they weren’t available at Oxford hospitals. William and his brother, Dean, raced to Memphis to obtain an incubator for Alabama, but returned home that evening to see her continue to fade. Little Alabama passed died the following day on January 20, 1931.

Alabama is buried in the Falkner plot. I wish I had a better picture of her grave but this is all I have. Her grave, which does not bear her name, rests in the shadow of her great-grandparents’ obelisk.

Alabama Faulkner is buried with her parents and great-grandparents.

I’ll have more stories from Oxford Memorial Cemetery next time in Part II.

Okie Road Trip 2019: Exploring Birmingham, Ala.’s Oak Hill Cemetery, Part IV (Two Doctors and an Undertaker)

I’m wrapping up my visit to Birmingham, Ala.’s Oak Hill Cemetery this week. I’m sure there are many stories I’ve missed but all good things must come to an end.

This week, I came across the story of two brothers, both doctors, whose lives each came to a sudden end but several years apart. It wasn’t until I started pulling up obituaries that it came to light. Then there’s the Birmingham undertaker whose early years were rather colorful.

Tale of Two (Medical) Brothers

The story starts with Dr. Elias Davis and his wife, Rhoda Georgia Anne (seen sometimes as Georginna) Latham. I don’t know where Elias studied medicine but apparently his father was also a doctor. The couple were married on Sept. 24, 1857 in Jefferson County, Ala. Their first child was John Daniel Sinkler Davis, born on Jan. 19, 1859 in Trussville, Ala. Son William Elias Brownlee Davis came into the world on Nov. 25, 1863.

Sadly, the boys would not know their father for long. Dr. Davis enlisted in the Confederate Army on June 4, 1861. The list of engagements he was present at is quite long and he was eventually promoted all the way from private to first lieutenant.

The sons of Dr. Elias Davis, who was killed in action during the Civil War, followed in their father and grandfather’s footsteps.

The back of the monument for Elias and Georgia Anne states that “Dr. Elias was killed on Aug. 21, 1864 while commanding sharpshooters of the Tenth Alabama Regiment and is buried in Petersburg, Va.” So he’s not actually buried at Oak Hill. After Georgia Anne died on Nov. 22, 1899, she was buried there beside their shared monument.

Both John and William pursued medical degrees, like their father and paternal grandfather before them. Tutors and a year of school in Montevallo, Ala. provided John with his pre-med education. He graduated from the Medical College of Georgia (Augusta) in 1879 and came home to Alabama to set up a rural private practice.

Dr. John Davis returned to Alabama to begin his practice after completing his medical studies in Georgia.

William earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Alabama, was briefly a school teacher then studied medicine at Vanderbilt University and the University of Louisville. He graduated from Bellevue Hospital Medical College in New York City in 1884.

Soon after, William joined his brother in his new Birmingham practice and the siblings began two decades of medical achievements involving clinical work, research, and education. One of their earliest projects was a professional journal: the Alabama Medical and Surgical Journal, first published in July 1886.

The Davis & Davis Private Infirmary

Using the Holmes Sanitarium for Diseases of Women in Rome, Ga. as a model, the brothers opened the Davis & Davis Private Infirmary for female diseases and surgical cases in 1894. That same year, the Davis brothers were two of nine physicians who founded the Birmingham Medical College, which opened on October 1.

Like his father. Dr. William Davis would die in his 30s.

John was married on July 15, 1897, to Birmingham author Margaret Elizabeth O’Brien. She died on April 1, 1898 at the age of 27 following an operation. He never remarried. On August 12, 1897, William married local schoolteacher Gertrude Mustin. The couple had two daughters, Margaret and Mary.

In 1902, the infirmary moved to a new four-story building. John taught surgery while William taught gynecology and abdominal surgery. The school’s financing was dependent on student fees, which were never enough to develop its resources compared to state-supported medical schools. Despite improvements in facilities and changes in governance, the Birmingham Medical College graduated its final class in May 1915.

Statue by sculptor Giuseppe Moretti honoring the work of Dr. William Davis at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine.

Tragically, William was killed in an accident at a railroad crossing in Birmingham on February 24, 1903. He was only 39. Sculptor Giuseppe Moretti was commissioned to create a large bronze statue of Davis, which stands today on the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Medicine campus in front of the former Hillman Hospital buildings on 20th Street.

Monument to Dr. William Elias Brownlee Davis at Oak Hill Cemetery. His wife, Gertrude, died in 1953.

In July 1903, when Hillman Hospital opened, John Davis and surgeon Lewis Morris provided funds needed to furnish the two operating rooms. John served as president of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama (MASA) in 1928. Davis was among many people suggesting a state-supported four-year medical school, which finally opened in Birmingham in September 1946. It is now the UAB School of Medicine.

Like his brother William, Dr. John Davis died as the result of an accident. You can see William’s marker behind it to the left.

Another Tragic Accident

Sadly, John was struck by a cab while crossing the street, sustaining a broken arm, broken leg, and internal injuries. He died two weeks later on May 16, 1931 at the age of 72. He is buried with his wife, Margaret, at Oak Hill Cemetery near his parents and brother.

Dr. John Davis died two weeks after he was hit by a cab in Birmingham.

William’s wife, Gertrude, never remarried. She raised their daughters and watched them marry. She died at age 79 on June 8, 1953. Her marker, which is at the base of William’s grand monument, is so small and worn that I didn’t even notice it when I was there.

The Colorful Undertaker

If you are like me and got a glimpse of the Erswell vault at Oak Hill, you’d think quite an esteemed family was interred within. You would be right. But as I uncovered the story of the Erswells, let’s just say things got interesting (and sad) pretty quickly.

The Erswell vault reveals little about the colorful man interred inside.

So who was Edward E. Erswell? Many things, it appears. A native of Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Erswell was the son of British parents Charles Erswell and Mary Snow Erswell. He grew up in Cleveland before entering Baldwin University in Berea, Ohio but only for six months. He joined a wagon train crossing the plains, making it as far as central Nebraska before sickness forced him to return east. He pursued a variety of activities over the next several years, including stock trading, book sales, patent medicines, and some time at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. He also learned the cabinet making trade along the way.

I wonder if Erswell’s future clients in Birmingham knew that for a time, he worked as the assistant of a magician in Baltimore, Md. called “Professor Collins.” But the true eyebrow raiser for me was the notation that Erswell somehow acquired (with the supposed permission of the U.S. government) a party of Native Americans that he took to state fairs throughout the South.

Having found success as a furniture/casket maker, Edward Erswell decided to become a full-time undertaker.

While in Kansas, Edward married Catherine “Kitty” Smith in 1872 and the couple settled in Birmingham, perhaps he had visited during his state fair tour. He returned to the cabinet-making trade and during cholera/yellow fever outbreaks, he concentrated on making caskets due to the demand. He continued to sell them along with other furniture. It wasn’t until the 1880s that he became a full-time undertaker, which he advertised in the April 17, 1889 edition of The Evening News, a Birmingham newspaper.

No Children Survived

Edward and Kitty had five children over the course of their marriage, but none lived past the age of 30. The first to enter the Oak Hill vault was their third child, Eddie. Only six, Eddie was playing at his father’s furniture store when he took a fatal fall on Sept. 4, 1885.

This article from the Sept. 5, 1885 Montgomery Advertiser details little Eddie’s death.

The year 1900 brought two deaths to Edward and Kitty. Their son, George, born in 1886, died at age 13 on April 9, 1900 of an undisclosed illness. Only two months later, son Henry, 17, was recovering from a second bout of pneumonia when he committed suicide on June 21, 1900 in his room above his father’s business. Some of his friends said he was upset after being rejected by a young lady.

Headline from the June 21, 1900 Birmingham News.

Nellie, Edward and Kitty’s second child, was born in 1876. The newspapers reported her marriage to Samuel Kirkman on March 22, 1893. The marriage was without her parents’ blessing and she was only 17 at the time. However, the newspapers reported all was forgiven and Samuel assisted Edward in his business. Nellie gave birth to daughter Aileen (“Chuggy”) Kirkman Larkin in 1895, who lived a long life. Nellie died in a sanitarium in Savannah, Ga. of tuberculosis on Nov. 30, 1903. I’m not sure what became of Samuel after her death.

Eight members of the Erswell family are interred in this vault at Oak Hill Cemetery.

Maude, the first Erswell child, was born in 1874 and died last. She attended the Birmingham Business College in 1897. On July 16, 1901, with her parents’ blessing, she married mining engineer Henry Geismer. The couple settled in Pratt City and welcomed a son, Henry, on May 7, 1902. The boy died two months later. Sometime in January 1904, Maude had her appendix removed. She never quite recovered and passed away at the age of 30 on March 21, 1904.

Opening Woodland Cemetery

Despite the deaths of his children, Edward carried on. He moved up in the ranks of the local lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF), eventually attaining the rank of grand treasurer of the grand encampment of Birmingham. He ran for coroner in 1891, although I don’t know if he won. He also established Woodlawn Cemetery (now known as Greenwood Cemetery) sometime in the late 1880s. It is located next to the Birmingham airport but at the time of its inception, this was a rural area.

Ad for Woodlawn Cemetery in the Sept. 17, 1889 Birmingham News

From what I can tell, the cemetery got off to a good start but suffered financial difficulties even when Edward was still alive. It would become a predominantly African-American cemetery in later years. Three of the four young ladies (Addie Mae Collins, Carol Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley) killed in the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham on Sept. 15, 1963 are buried there. For a time, Greenwood was in a very neglected state in the 1990s but from what I can tell, is now being taken care of with help from the city.

Edward died on Jan. 28, 1910 at age 63 after a long illness. His funeral and burial at Oak Hill was held with much ceremony, with all the highest funeral rites of the IOOF and many of his fellow lodge brothers in attendance.

Kitty died on Sept. 29, 1930 at age 76. It is rumored that she never wanted the family be interred at Oak Hill but preferred to be at Elmwood Cemetery because it was more fashionable. Some say you can hear whispers and muttering coming out of the vault late at night because Kitty is still complaining about it to Edward.

A Fine Farewell

Sarah and I enjoyed exploring Oak Hill Cemetery. But it was time to get back on the road and head toward Mississippi before dark. I hope you’ll join me on our next stop on the 2019 Okie Road Trip.

Monument to Sarah Maldrine Foster (1869-1896).

Okie Road Trip 2019: Exploring Birmingham, Ala.’s Oak Hill Cemetery, Part III (The GAR, an Irish Immigrant, and a Civil Rights Pioneer)

So what else (or who else) is there to see at Oak Hill Cemetery? Trust me, there’s still a great deal.

You would expect any large Southern cemetery to have Confederate graves. But what about Union ones? At Oak Hill, that would be a yes.

Oak Hill actually has a GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) monument near the back wall. Let me explain for those who might not know exactly what the GAR was in case you encounter a grave located in a GAR plot.

Oak Hill’s GAR monument was erected in April 1891.

The Grand Army of the Republic

In 1866, Union veterans of the Civil War organized into the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). Membership was restricted to individuals who served in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, or Revenue Cutter Service during the Civil War, limiting the lifespan of the GAR to 1956.

In 1881, the GAR formed the Sons of Veterans of the United States of America (SV) to carry on its traditions long after the GAR ceased to exist. Membership was open to any man who could prove ancestry to a member of the GAR or to a veteran eligible for GAR membership.

Oak Hill’s GAR monument was erected on April 27, 1891 when the state’s GAR convention took place in Birmingham. The convention was reported in the The Birmingham News and included erection of the new monument, witnessed by about 75 Union veterans. You can see on the monument that it was erected by Birmingham’s Gen. George A. Custer Chapter, Post 1.

It so happened that the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) were holding their own memorial celebration later that day. As you can imagine, their numbers were much higher than the GAR group. I wondered if the new monument would be mentioned by the press and it was.

Confederate veterans decorated the new GAR monument on the day it was dedicated in April 1891. (Photo source: The Birmingham News, April 27, 1891)

I admit it, I was surprised to read that. But I shouldn’t have been. While tensions still existed between the two factions, I’d read that as the veterans aged and years passed, they met and swapped stories often at reunion events. Friendships were formed.

Oak Hill’s GAR monument was vandalized in the 1930s and in 1991, the eagle topping it was damaged beyond repair. As it happened, a re-dedication ceremony had just been held a few days before Sarah and I visited Oak Hill. The National Sons of Union Veterans furnished the funds for the restoration (including replacing the eagle) and the local chapter (Major General John T. Croxton, Camp 17) was in charge of overseeing the restoration.

Union Corp. Charles Marion Robinson died in Grand Rapids, Mich. on June 28, 1904. He was buried at Oak Hill Cemetery two days later.

There are 11 Union soldiers buried near the monument and one widow with an additional 26 Union veterans buried throughout the cemetery. Oak Hill determined that Union soldiers from eight states are buried there.

A Union Veteran in Alabama

You’ll notice in the photo above the grave of Corp. Charles Marion Robinson. His death certificate intrigued me because it said he died in Grand Rapids, Mich. but was buried at Oak Hill. How did that happen?

Born in Michigan in 1838, Charles married Martha Kingsbury in St. Joseph, Mich. in 1861. Charles served in the Eighth Michigan Cavalry, Co. F, during the Civil War. The Robinsons lived in Pulaski, Tenn. in the 1870s. Charles worked as a butcher and his son, Charles H., would became one as well.

At some point, the family moved to Ensley, Ala. (a neighborhood of Birmingham). Martha died on Aug. 27, 1894 and was buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in an unmarked grave. The 1900 U.S. Census notes that Charles was living with his son, Charles, and his family just down the street from daughter, Carrie, who married Allen Muckenfuss. I’m guessing Charles was a member of the local GAR chapter.

Charles’ obituary solved my mystery. He was visiting family and friends in Grand Rapids, Mich. when he died of a cardiac thrombosis at age 56. His body was sent home for burial with his fellow Union veterans at Oak Hill Cemetery on June 30, 1904.

The O’Byrne Family

The monument for Irish immigrant Michael O’Byrne and his wife, Sarah, is rather striking. I didn’t know when I saw it at Oak Hill that I would see one with a statue almost exactly like it at Oak Grove Cemetery in Brunswick, Ga. in 2020.

Michael O’Byrne is listed as a “merchant/grocer” and “huckster” in U.S. Census records.

Born in 1830 in Ireland, Michael O’Byrne didn’t leave much of a paper trail. I don’t know exactly when he married Georgia native Sarah Taylor, who was 14 years his junior. By 1870, the couple was living in Eufaula, Ala. (about 175 miles away) and had four children. He is listed as a “merchant/grocer”. They had son, Willie, in 1878. The 1880 U.S. Census listed Charles as a “huckster”, a term for someone who sold fruits and vegetables in an open wagon.

At some point after 1880, the family moved to Birmingham. Michael died on April 5, 1893 at the age of 61. Oddly, his obituary states that he was a “pioneer” who came to Birmingham when it was a “struggling village”. Considering he didn’t live there until after 1880, that doesn’t make sense. It also states he was the brother of “our P.O. O’Byrne”. I did some research and P.O. O’Byrne (who did live and work in Eufaula and Birmingham) was 26 years younger than Michael O’Byrne. I think there may have been some confusion over exactly who Michael was.

Sarah O’Byrne died five years later at age 53 on Sept. 8, 1898.

Michael and Sarah O’Byrne’s monument features this lovely statue.

On the base of their shared monument are these words:

In one path they walked, in one grave they sleep.

Father and mother, Oh, Jesus keep.

Civil Rights Pioneer

A number of notable people are buried at Oak Hill Cemetery, from Alabama governors to a World War I Medal of Honor recipient. But one of the most important people buried at Oak Hill is pastor and civil rights activist Rev. Fred Lee Shuttlesworth. While his name is not as familiar as Dr. Martin Luther King or Rep. John Lewis, he played a key role in the American civil rights movement.

The Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth, left, with Ralph David Abernathy and Dr. Martin Luther King in 1963. (Photo source: United Press International)

Born March 18, 1922 in Mount Meigs, Ala., Rev. Shuttlesworth moved to Birmingham as a child, where he lived with his mother, Alberta, and stepfather, William, a coal miner. He was licensed and ordained as a preacher in 1948, earning an AB from Selma University in 1951 and a BS from Alabama State College in 1953. Rev. Shuttlesworth was minister at First Baptist Church in Selma until 1952, and the next year was called to Bethel Baptist Church in Birmingham.

Rev. Shuttlesworth became involved in the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1955. When Circuit Judge Walter B. Jones banned the NAACP from activity in the state in 1956, Shuttlesworth presided over a planning meeting for a new organization that became the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMHR). He served as its president until 1969.

Statue of the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth in front of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. (Photo source: Yelp.com)

In November 1956, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that bus segregation in Montgomery was unconstitutional, Rev. Shuttlesworth and the ACMHR moved to challenge segregation on Birmingham’s buses. The night before their campaign, a bomb exploded under Rev. Shuttlesworth’s parsonage at Bethel Baptist. The house was destroyed, but Rev. Shuttlesworth escaped unharmed. The next day, hundreds of protesters sat in the sections reserved for whites on Birmingham buses. Twenty-one participants were arrested and convicted, and the ACMHR filed suit in federal court to strike down the local law mandating segregation.

Establishing the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)

Rev. Shuttlesworth joined Dr. Martin Luther King and C. K. Steele in planning a conference of Southern black leaders in January 1957. Held at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the meeting laid the foundation for what would become the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). At a meeting later that year, Rev. Shuttlesworth became the SCLC’s first secretary.

In 1963, the SCLC united with the ACMHR to protest segregation in Birmingham. SCLC leaders met in January to plan the Birmingham Campaign, known as “Project C” (C for confrontation). Rev. Shuttlesworth issued his Birmingham Manifesto and on April 6, 1963 led the campaign’s first march on city hall.

Police K-9 units were deployed to manage crowds of protesters during the Birmingham Campaign of the civil rights movement in May 1963. (Photo source: Birmingham News)

As the campaign continued, Dr. King and Rev. Shuttlesworth butted heads. As a result of injuries during a march, Shuttlesworth was in the hospital during negotiations that produced a one-day halt to demonstrations. In addition to disagreeing with the halt, Rev. Shuttlesworth didn’t like being left out of the decision. Dr. King, however, persuaded him to publicly support the action.

The Birmingham Campaign ended two days later, with an agreement between the city’s business community and local black leaders that included a commitment to the desegregation of public accommodations, a committee to ensure non-discriminatory hiring practices in Birmingham, and cooperation in releasing jailed protesters.

Later Years

In the mid-1960s, Rev. Shuttlesworth established the Greater New Light Baptist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. In the 1980s, he founded the Shuttlesworth Housing Foundation, providing grants for home ownership.

Rev. Shuttlesworth received the Presidential Citizens Medal from President Bill Clinton in 2001, with the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport named in his honor in 2008. Rev. Shuttlesworth also became president of the SCLC mid-decade, although he soon left due to disagreements with the internal workings of the organization.

Grave marker of Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth, civil right pioneer at Oak Hill Cemetery.

After a year of poor health, Rev. Shuttlesworth died on Oct. 5, 2011 at age 89.

So will there be a Part IV to this series? Yes, indeed…

Okie Road Trip 2019: Exploring Birmingham, Ala.’s Oak Hill Cemetery, Part II (Two Guns and a Dentist’s Chair)

I’m back at Oak Hill Cemetery! This week, I’ve got three untimely deaths to share with you.

When something in a cemetery looks a little different or unique, I usually take a picture and look into it later. Such is the case of George Allen. Not only was there a small cross-shaped marker sitting on top of a larger, modern dual monument, the death date for George was much earlier than the one for his wife. What happened to George?

The story I found was unlike any I’d ever read before. Who knew a trip to the dentist could be fatal?

The tree marker in the center of the newer Allen monument predates it by about 50 years.

Death in the Dentist’s Chair

A native of Virginia, George J. Allen was born to cabinetmaker John H. and Mary B. Allen in 1845. He married Margaret “Maggie” Redwine in Lafayette, Miss. in 1868. In 1870, their daughter, Mary, was born. The family settled in Birmingham. George’s brother, Robert, lived with them in the 1880s. Both brothers appear to have worked as machinists.

George visited a dentist in late May 1882 in Louisville, Ala. (while out of town for work) to have a tooth extracted. After returning to Birmingham, he visited a dentist named Dr. Eubank to “draw the roots” and asked for chloroform to be used. The dentist refused, despite chloroform’s widespread use by dentists/doctors after the Civil War, but then consulted with two colleagues to get their opinions. Remember the name Dr. Luckie. You will see it again.

You can read about the tragic event in the article below.

(Photo source: Montgomery Advertiser, June 7, 1882)

How the reporters knew that George was insured for several thousand dollars is unknown. The Allens only had one daughter, so the “several children” was an error. Regardless, poor George was dead at the age of 37. His cross-shaped cross marker is small and worn but remains as a heartfelt tribute. You can make out an anchor leaning against the front, signifying the symbol of hope.

George Allen died at age 37 in a dentist’s chair.

Margaret was left to raise Mary on her own. In 1889, Mary wed Birmingham police chief George Bodeker (who later operated his own detective agency). According to U.S. census records, Maggie lived with them for the next three decades. She died on April 3, 1933 at age 85.

Shot on Christmas Night

In another case of “What does the date signify?”, I noticed that one member of the Bowen family died young. I initially guessed it was illness, but I was wrong.

The son of an engineer, Samuel Bowen was one of Welsh immigrants John Bowen and Anna Coons Bowen’s four sons. He was born in Rome, Ga. in 1871. The Bowens lived in Chattanooga, Tenn. before settling in Birmingham, Ala.

Operating from 1882 to 1970, Birmingham’s Sloss Furnaces was once the largest manufacturer of pig iron in the world.

Samuel followed in his father’s footsteps and became an engineer, at one time working at the Sloss Furnaces. After the Civil War, Birmingham’s pig iron industry boomed over the next several decades. During the 1880s, as pig iron production in Alabama grew from 68,995 to 706,629 gross tons, no fewer than 19 blast furnaces were built in Jefferson County alone. Today, the Sloss Furnaces are a national historic landmark and have been a museum since 1983.

From the Montgomery Advertiser, Dec. 27, 1894.

On Christmas night 1894, Samuel and his older brother, William, were enjoying a drink at Horan’s Saloon. Fellow engineers James Adkins and Bruce Kelly invited Samuel to play a game of poker dice. According to newspaper reports, Samuel accused Adkins of “hogging” the dice. A fight ensued in which all three men threw bottles and glasses at each other. The accounts reported in court of what happened after that differ, but the result was the same. Adkins shot Samuel, who died the next day.

“A Voice We Love is Stilled”

As is often the case, finding out whether or not the culprit(s) was convicted or not proved difficult. A hearing was held and witnesses testified, some saying Adkins shot Samuel in self defense. William testified to the contrary, as did the saloon owner’s father. The last report I found said Adkins had been granted bond at $1,500 from the judge. This leads me to believe he was likely acquitted later or the case was dismissed.

The Bowen family plot in Oak Hill. The sun was shining through the trees onto Samuel’s grave on the day I was there.

Samuel, two of his brothers, and his parents are buried together at Oak Hill. Only brother Louis is missing. His father, John, had died in 1887. His mother, Anna, died in 1924 at age 84. She lived with William and Thomas (both widowers) in her last years. William was the last Bowen to die in 1942 at age 74.

I did not see Samuel’s haunting epitaph when I was at Oak Hill but cemetery records indicate it reads as follows. The “FCB Brother” refers to his membership in the Knights of Pythias:

A light from our household is gone, A voice we loved is stilled,

A place is vacant in our home, Which never can be filled.

We cannot tell who next may fall, Beneath thy chastening rod,

One must be first, But let us all prepare to meet our God.

F.C.B. Brother

The Hawes Riots

I noticed a beautiful monument for Maurice B. Throckmorton, who died at age 33 in 1888. Again, the seemed young. I had no idea that he was part of a painful chapter in Birmingham’s history — the infamous Hawes riots of December 1888.

Maurice Throckmorton’s monument was probably imported from Italy.

The story of the Hawes riots is long and complicated. Oak Hill Cemetery has done a wonderful job of writing a detailed account of it here. I urge you to read it because I don’t have the time/space to do it justice. The basic story of the Hawes Riot is that Richard “Dick” Hawes, a George Pacific engineer, murdered his wife, Emma, and his two daughters, May and Irene.

Hawes often left his family alone at their Birmingham home. Emma was reputed be an alcoholic so young May (thought to be 8) cared for her sister, Irene (age 6), with some household help from neighbor Fannie Bryant. Their son, Willie, lived with family in Atlanta.

Newspaper illustration of Mary Emma Pettis Hawes.

On Dec. 4, 1888, boaters found May’s body in Birmingham’s East Lake. Coroner Alfred Babbitt determined the cause of death was murder. Despite being viewed by thousands at Lockwood & Miller’s Funeral Parlor, May’s body was not identified as Hawes’ daughter until the following day.

Fannie Bryant testified that she helped Emma pack for a trip to Georgia to bring Willie home. She had last seen May the previous weekend, when Hawes took her from the house on the way to Atlanta. Witnesses said Hawes had just divorced Emma and gone to Columbus, Miss. to wed a new bride, which turned out to be true. Dick married Mayes Story. She later said he told her he was divorced with only one male child. Police apprehended Hawes soon after that.

Newspaper illustration of May Hawes.

More Bodies Found

On Dec. 8, 1888, Birmingham police discovered the bodies of Emma and Irene sunk into the lake at Lakeview Park. Emma, Irene, and May would all be buried in unmarked graves in Oak Hill Cemetery.

As word of the discovery spread, a mob of 1,000 to 3,000 people moved toward the Jefferson County Jail where Hawes was being held. Sheriff Joseph S. Smith issued guns to his deputies, positioning them to protect the jail. He told them to fire into the mob if they crossed the alley toward the jail door.

Postmaster Maurice Throckmorton, 33, was one of 10 people killed on Dec. 8, 1888 in Birmingham’s Hawes riots. (Photo source: Birmingham Public Library Digital Collection)

When the mob appeared near the alley, Sheriff Smith called to them to stop, counting to five. The mob continued across the alley and Smith gave the order to fire. Ten died, including postmaster Maurice B. Throckmorton, a deputy U. S. Marshal, a civil engineer, and a painter. Smith and police chief O. A. Pickard were both placed under arrest the next day while the state militia restored order. The two were released the next year following a deadlocked jury.

Hawes Goes on Trial

The Hawes trial started on Monday, April 22, 1889, presided over by Judge Samuel Greene. Although Hawes was charged with murdering three victims, the state decided the strongest case against Dick Hawes was with May’s murder and built the trial around it.

According to Fannie Bryant, May stayed with her on the night of Dec. 3, 1888. Witnesses saw Richard and May Hawes getting onto a rail on Dec. 3 around 7 to 8 p.m., getting off at the East Lake stop together. Richard got back on the rail for the return trip less than an hour later, alone. Hawes then left the next morning for Mississippi.

According to prosecutors, Hawes’ motive in murdering May was to quiet all knowledge of his previous murder of Emma and Ida. The prosecution maintained that Hawes needed to dispose of his wife and children in order to marry his new bride, who knew nothing about his daughters.

Newspaper illustration of Richard “Dick” Hawes.

After finding Hawes guilty, the jury decided upon the death penalty on May 3, 1889. The defense submitted several appeals to the Alabama Supreme Court, but all were denied. A St. Louis circus owner requested to display the caged Hawes in his sideshow but was rejected.

Hawes was executed by Sheriff Smith on February 28, 1890. The gallows platform was constructed by J. A. Griffith, who served on the jury. Tickets to the event were being sold on the street for as much as $200. After a prayer, Smith counted to three and pulled the lever, dropping the platform.

Dick Hawes was buried by his brother, Jim, in an unmarked grave in the family’s plot at Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta, Ga. No words were spoken over the grave.

The Fate of Maurice Throckmorton

As for Maurice Throckmorton, I read an account in the Dec. 13, 1888 Weekly Advertiser (Montgomery, Ala.) that his death was likely a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. You’ll notice that Dr. Luckie’s name appears again. Unfortunately, any luck Maurice had possessed had run out.

Article from Dec. 13, 1888 Weekly Advertiser (Montgomery, Ala.)

Maurice left behind a wife, Florence, and a son, Alburto. Florence later remarried to Allen Haskell and had a son with him. Alburto, his wife, Mary, and their daughter, Mary, are buried beside Maurice at Oak Hill. Florence, who died in 1942, is buried in Birmingham’s Elmwood Cemetery.

The Muldoon Monument Co. of Louisville, Ky. produced some of the most stunning monuments I’ve ever seen. I’ll feature another one later in this trip in Selma, Ala.

One of the first things I noticed about Maurice’s monument is that it came from the Muldoon Monument Co. of Louisville, Co., one of the most highly regarded marbleworks in the country. You can find Muldoon monuments in many Southern cemeteries, including a few in Magnolia Cemetery in Augusta, Ga. The company is still in business today. In this case, as family lore claims, Muldoon probably imported this monument from Italy.

I checked to see if there were other people killed as part of the riot buried at Oak Hill. J.R. McCoy, 30, and Charles Bailey, 25, are also there, buried in unmarked graves.

I hope you’ll return for more stories Oak Hill Cemetery in Part III.

Okie Road Trip 2019: Exploring Birmingham, Ala.’s Oak Hill Cemetery, Part I

The pounding sun glared in my face as I tilted my phone back to snap a photo of the gates of Birmingham, Ala.’s Oak Hill Cemetery. Sweat rolled down my back as the lunchtime traffic whizzed by. As a result, the shot (see below) was not my best. But I didn’t care. It was the first stop on a road trip I’d been eager to start for months.

The start of Okie Road Trip 2019!

I’ve mentioned the Church Chicks to you. Sarah is one of them. I wrote about our visit to Myrtle Hill Cemetery in Rome, Ga. back in 2014. Of all the chicks, she and I have done the most traveling together. Our first trip was to her hometown of Lawton, Okla. We survived a church singles’ cruise to the Bahamas. In 2012, we took a memorable trip to New York City. Our most recent trip (with another chick) was to Blue Mountain Beach, Fla.

Okie Road Trip 2019

In early 2019, Sarah told me about a Memorial Day cycling event near Lawton, Okla. she wanted to attend. Sarah is an avid cyclist and I am not. But she was eager to return to her hometown to take part. She suggested we make it a road trip, taking two and a half days to drive out to Oklahoma, spend two days there, and two and a half days to get back. Along the way, we could stop at all the cemeteries (within reason) that I wanted. Who could say no to that?

At first, I wasn’t sure I could come because it conflicted with my family’s annual trip to Folly Beach, S.C. But the more we discussed it, the more something told me we needed to do it that summer. I could fly out to Folly to join my family after the road trip. Considering that Covid 19 was preparing to strike the following year, she and I agreed later that my gut feeling was on the money.

Our trip out to Lawton, Okla. would cover almost 1,000 miles over two and a half days. I’m very glad that Sarah offered to do the driving! This is what our route out looked like.

Over the next months, we plotted our course and discussed our route. I admit it, I’m a closet travel agent and I relish the challenge of planning a trip. By the time May came around, I was chomping at the bit to hit the road. I think Sarah was, too.

First Stop: Oak Hill Cemetery, Birmingham, Ala.

Located a little north of downtown, Oak Hill Cemetery was originally 21.5 acres from the estate of James M. Ware. According to Oak Hill’s web site, when Birmingham was founded in December 1871, it had been in use as a private burial ground for at least two years. When civil engineer William P. Barker platted the new city for the founding Elyton Land Company, he identified the site as “City Cemetery.” After the city purchased the 21.5-acre site in December 1873, it was formally established as Oak Hill Cemetery.

In 1889, Judge A. O. Lane purchased 200 acres on the southern slopes of Red Mountain (now Lane Park) for pauper burials, ending the use of Oak Hill’s “Potter’s Field”.

In 1977, Oak Hill Cemetery was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Currently, there are probably around 10,000 burials.

The Pioneer Memorial Building was constructed of Indiana limestone in 1928.

The first building I photographed was this one, the Pioneer Memorial Building, which houses the cemetery office. In 1928, the caretaker’s cottage near the center of the property was removed to the southwest corner of the cemetery and this new building made out of Indiana limestone was erected. It was designed by Miller & Martin Architects with William Kessler, landscape architect.

I was in search of a particular grave and I was hopeful someone was in the office to guide us. We didn’t have a lot of time to look as we were due in Oxford, Miss. that night. I’m embarrassed to say I don’t remember the name of the kind gentleman who helped us but he personally walked us over to the grave I was seeking. It was probably Stuart Oates, Oak Hill’s executive director. We also talked to him at the end of our visit.

View of Oak Hill Cemetery in Birmingham, Ala.

Titanic Survivors

You might not expect to find a survivor of the Titanic in an Alabama cemetery, but there’s one at Oak Hill. His story is a bit unusual, too.

Born in 1881 in New York, Phillipp Mock was the son of Richard and Emma Mock. His older sister, also named Emma, was born in 1876. The family traveled back and forth between Europe and the U.S., with the children receiving some of their education aboard. The siblings were close and Emma referred to Phillipp fondly as “Boy”.

In Feb. 1900, Emma’s married wealthy Rufus Blake, 44 years her senior. Rufus suffered from Bright’s disease and was housebound. While alone in their home in 1901, he shot himself in the head with a prized gun from his collection. His will left Emma $1,500,000. Another $95,000 went to a sister and nieces, while his four daughters reportedly received nothing. The will was relatively new and written shortly before his death. Emma married a second time in 1903 to Paul Schabert, with whom she shared a romance in Europe before her first marriage.

This is the best photo I could find of Emma Mary Mock Blake Schabert Von Faber Du Faur.

A Suwannee University (known as University of the South) graduate, Phillipp Mock served in the U.S. Army during the Spanish-American War. Although an artist and portrait miniature painter, he worked as secretary of the Sterling Piano Company (previously owned by Rufus Blake) while his brother-in-law Paul was treasurer. He married Emma Clark in 1903.

Mock went on a business trip to Euprop in 1912 and booked passage home on the Titanic with his sister, Emma. Both he and Emma were unhappy in their respective marriages and discussed possibly divorcing their spouses. The siblings were accustomed to traveling on ocean liners and had cabins on the E deck.

According to the Encyclopedia Titanica:

Emma and Philipp were clearly impressed with the ship. He said Titanic was “without question the finest boat that was ever afloat and that she was so large passengers almost lost the idea they were on board ship. She was so huge that there was no rolling or pitching, she seemed to keep an even keel all the time.” Letters Emma wrote on board, revealed that she felt the same way about “the marvelous ship, with its wonderful restaurants, lounge and reception rooms, of our large cabin, of the fashionable well-dressed people who gathered in the hall after dinner…” The siblings touched upon a curious topic. They mused that should the Titanic sink, they would “die as stoics.”

Emma and Phillipp had little idea that the Titanic would indeed sink in the early hours of April 15, 1912.

Philipp sent a telegram from the SS Carpathia to let his brother-in-law Paul Schabert know he and Emma had survived. The telegram is in a private collection. (Photo source: FindaGrave.com)

Boarding the Lifeboats

You can read the account of Emma and Phillipp making it onto Lifeboat 11. Phillipp nearly lost a seat in the boat with Emma but once in, he immediately helped row. The siblings made it to the approaching Carpathia in an hour and a half. They arrived back in America on April 18. Despite a brief reconciliation, Emma and her husband divorced soon after. She would remarry to Baron Curt von Faber du Faur. Although the Baron was 14 years her junior, the marriage lasted until her death in 1961. Emma is buried in St. James Cemetery, St. James, Long Island, N.Y.

Phillipp Mock divorced his wife, Emma, and married Alvis Ehrman (pictured) in 1914. (Photo source: Encyclopedia Titanica)

Phillipp and Emma divorced not much later and he married Alvis Ehrman in late 1914. They stayed in Connecticut while he continued to work for Sterling. He and Alvis did not have children and settled in New York. They later moved to Florida where he taught art at The Casements (a girl’s school) in Ormond. Philipp Mock passed away in Daytona Beach, Fla. on June 16, 1951.

Phillipp Mock and his second wife, Alvis, are buried at Oak Hill Cemetery.

So how did Phillipp and Alvis end up buried at Oak Hill Cemetery? After Phillipp’s death, Alvis moved to Birmingham, Ala. She was born in Clanton, Ala. in 1881. My guess is that Phillipp was cremated and she had his ashes buried with hers after she died on Aug. 18, 1963. Her parents, Rudolph and Kate, are buried nearby along with other family members.

Two Lives Cut Short

I’ve got one last story for this installment. I noticed two nicely carved monuments with death dates indicating the couple died young.

Born in 1863 to Dr. Thomas and Lucy Leeper Anglin, Eula Anglin was a well-known society miss in Birmingham. On Oct. 3, 1883, she wed Joseph Paul (J.P.) Mudd, also of Birmingham. Newspapers called it “the most notable social event” of the season. J.P. was the son of esteemed jurist and state legislator Judge William Swearingen Mudd and Florence Jane Earle Mudd.

Eula was 20 and Joseph was 24. In 1885, she gave birth to a son, William (named after his grandfather), and in 1889, a son named Joseph Paul (named after his father). J.P. did well and was involved in banking.

Eula and J.P. Mudd were married seven years before her untimely death in 1890.

For reasons I could not learn, Eula died at age 26 on Feb. 10, 1890. I could not find an obituary for her beyond a one-sentence mention in a Montgomery newspaper. J.P. did not remarry. He died almost eight years later of pneumonia at age 39 on Jan. 12, 1898.

That left young William and Paul orphans. They went to live with their Aunt Ellie Anglin Weakley (Eula’s sister) and Uncle S. Davies Weakley, an attorney. William became one of the publishers of the Rome (Ga.) News-Tribune. Joseph became a lawyer like his uncle. The brothers are both buried in nearby Elmwood Cemetery in Birmingham.

I have more stories from Oak Hill Cemetery as the Okie Road Trip 2019 gets underway. Won’t you stay with me for Part II?

Hidden History in the Back Yard: Uncovering Lively Cemetery in Dekalb County, Ga.

(Note: This is a LONG post. There was too much great information I couldn’t leave out.)

This week I’m diving into a small family cemetery I visited in April 2019. It started with a comment left on the blog by a lovely woman named June McFarland Moss telling me about a cemetery in her Dekalb County, Ga. neighborhood near Tucker. I used to live in Tucker so I was immediately interested.

Lively Family Farmhouse Restored

June, a retired Georgia State University director of technical support services, purchased the old Lively family farmhouse with her husband, Gary, in 1987 and restored it to its former glory. June invited me to visit the farmhouse and to walk down the street to the Lively Cemetery.

June and Gary Moss purchased the Lively farmhouse in 1987 and restored it over the next several years.

Born in 1772, Virginia native Charles Milton Lively came to Georgia in the early 1800s. He lived in Elbert and Morgan Counties before settling in Dekalb County, building the farmhouse around 1832. Charles’ great-great-grandson Lewell Lively was the owner when the Mosses bought it.

The farmhouse is located across the way from a Dekalb landmark, the “White House” at 3687 Briarcliff Road. In 1979, Iranian-born Fred Milani fled his homeland and sought shelter in America. He did extremely well in real-estate over the next 20 years. In 2002, he built a 3/4 replica of the White House to express his love for his adopted country (he is an American citizen now).

The Lively family probably owned the property Dekalb’s “White House” sits on today. (Photo source: http://www.houseandhistory.com)

June and Gary weren’t aware of the cemetery for some time because its in the backyard of a neighbor down the street on property once part of the Lively farm. I’ve visited several of these “backyard burial grounds” in Dekalb over the years. Usually, there’s a small pubic access path on the property so people can legally visit. Of course, it’s always nice to ask in advance so you don’t freak the homeowner out. June had contacted her neighbor to let them know we’d be coming through that day.

Backyard Burial Ground

The cemetery is located in the back corner of the yard, and you can see how close it is to the adjoining properties. I was happy to see that while markers were on the ground, they were mostly readable and intact. At one time, these were upright, grounded by slotted bases. The plot is surrounded by a cement block border.

The oldest burial at Lively Cemetery is for Charles Lively, who died around 1841.

We’re not sure when Charles Lively married Mary Lambert, who is believed to also be from Virginia. Most of their eight children were born while living in Morgan County. Two are buried in this cemetery.

Charles died sometime between Sept. 23, 1840 when he wrote his will and Jan. 22, 1841, when appraisers were selected for his estate. His grave marker is likely the blank slab next to Mary’s grave. When historian Franklin Garrett visited the cemetery in 1933 and wrote it up in his famous necrology, he described it as being an uninscribed stone box tomb.

Charles’ will left everything to Mary and his children. He also owned property in Gwinnett and Cobb Counties.

The grave of Mary Lambert Lively (1780-1864).

The Lively daughters married over the next years. A few moved out of state but others remained nearby. Only son Milton Charles Lively was born in 1820. He married Martha Maria Johnston around the time his father died. He and Maria were likely living in the farmhouse with his mother, Mary, after Charles died.

Sister Judith was living just down the road with her husband, Alfred Poole. They married in 1846. Greenville Henderson, for whom Henderson Mill Road is named, was another neighbor. He operated a grist mill with his sons for several years.

“Suffer the Little Children”

Five of the 11 inscribed graves at Lively Cemetery belong to children.

One of Milton’s sisters, Lucinda, married Thomas Dabbs around 1840. At some point, they moved to Bartow County. Their daughter, Nancy, was born on Feb. 20, 1844. She died at age five on Dec. 21, 1849. She is the second burial in Lively Cemetery.

Nancy Dabs was the third child of Thomas Dabbs and Lucinda Lively Dabbs. She died at age five in 1849.

The next three graves belong to children of Milton and Maria. Daughter Mary M. Lively was their sixth child, born on Jan. 4, 1852 and died on Oct. 26, 1852. Son John W. Lively was born on Nov. 3, 1853 and died on Dec. 10, 1855. Son James B. Lively was born on Nov. 27, 1857 and died on April 2, 1859.

Mary M. Lively, sixth child of Martin and Maria Lively, only lived 11 months before she died on Oct. 26, 1852.

Accidental Death

Earlier I mentioned Charles’s daughter Lucinda and her husband, Alfred J.H. Poole. Alfred enlisted in the Confederate Army in fall 1862 and was elected lieutenant. He was promoted to captain the following year. The accident that ended his life is described in this article that appeared in the Macon Telegraph from the Atlanta Constitution on Jan. 11, 1863.

Capt. Poole was likely already dead when this article appeared in the Macon Telegraph.

Capt. Poole was 38 when he passed away. The inscription on his stone reads: “O man immortal by a double prize, By fame on earth by glory in the skies.” His last name is spelled Pool on his marker but in most places, I have seen it spelled Poole.

Capt. Alfred Poole was only 38 when he died.

Alfred and Judith had no children. She remarried to Jabez Loyd, a widower with five children, in 1868. Their son, Charles Loyd, was born in 1870.

Union General James McPherson’s Visit

The Civil War changed Atlanta and Dekalb County forever. I wanted to see how Milton Charles Lively was involved and found him listed on an 1860-1864 Georgia Civil War Muster Roll. I saw names of Dekalb pioneers like Capt. W.J. Donaldson, who went on to build the Donaldson-Bannister farmhouse in Dunwoody. Salathiel Adams, whose family has a similar backyard cemetery near Nancy Creek Road, is on it. Greenville Henderson’s sons, William and Rufus, are also on the list.

Carol Harrison, a friend of Judy and Gary, has done considerable research on the Livelys. She shared with them a letter written by General William T. Sherman (yes, THAT Sherman) on July 18, 1864 to General James Birdseye McPherson. Gen. Sherman was staying at the Samuel House plantation home, commandeered by the Union. The date of this letter is important because four days later the infamous Battle of Atlanta would begin.

Union Gen. William T. Sherman stayed at the Samuel House home in the days before the Battle of Atlanta in July 1864. The house is now the clubhouse of the exclusive Peachtree Golf Club, still in operation today. (Photo source: http://www.Redclaysoul.com)

The Livelys had a connection to the House family. Charles and Mary’s granddaughter Frances Jones was married to Jacob Guyton House, son of Samuel House, owner of the House plantation where Sherman was staying.

On July 18, 1864, Sherman wrote to McPherson, who was given command of the Army of the Tennessee in March that year. I won’t include all of the letter but here’s the part that includes the Lively farmhouse.

Tell Garrard that it will be much easier to break the telegraph and road today and night than if he waits longer. This negro says there is a road leading to Stone Mountain from Mr. Lively’s on the Decatur road, on which I suppose you to be. At any rate, I will be here till evening and would like to hear from you.

Gen. James McPherson died on July 22, 1864 as the Battle of Atlanta began. (Photo source: Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs – Library of Congress)

The distance between Samuel House’ plantation and the Lively farmhouse is about five miles. At that time, Milton Charles Lively was fighting with the Confederate Army. Mary, Charles Lively’s widow, was living in Alabama with one of her daughters. Milton’s son, Charles Pinkney Lively (nicknamed “Pink”) was a first lieutenant with the Georgia Cavalry (Co. B of Cobb’s Legion), so he wasn’t there. It’s highly possible the house was empty at the time as many residents had fled the city. But it certainly looks like General McPherson stayed there.

I looked up to see where Pink Lively was buried and discovered that he’s at Norcross City Cemetery. It turns out I photographed his grave back in 2013 for Find a Grave.com! I also learned that Pink’s father, Milton, and Stephen McElroy donated an acre of land for Norcross City Cemetery to be established in 1873. That may be why Pink and several other Livelys are buried there.

First Lieutenant Charles “Pink” Lively, grandson of Charles Lively and son of Milton Charles Lively, is buried at Norcross City Cemetery. I photographed his grave in February 2013 for Find a Grave.com.

In 1916, Norcross purchased an additional nine acres of the adjacent land from Milton’s descendants. Part of the land was used to expand the city cemetery from its original one-acre size, while part was used in later years to build an athletic field.

Death of a Union General

Four days after his stay at the Lively farmhouse, Gen. McPherson died in battle on July 22, 1864. He was only 36 and the highest ranking Union officer to be killed in the Civil War. His death site in East Atlanta Village is marked by a small monument. Unfortunately, it was vandalized in August 2020. Gen. McPherson is buried in McPherson Cemetery in Clyde, Ohio.

Charles Lively’s widow, Mary, died on March 3, 1864 and was brought back for burial at Lively Cemetery. An unnamed infant son of Milton and Maria died in 1865 and was also buried there. Their son Cicero, born in 1859, died on March 6, 1873 at age 13.

Cicero Lively died at age 13 in 1873.

Milton’s wife, Maria, died on Sept. 5, 1878. Her grave marker features a hand holding a Bible aloft. The inscription reads: “”She was a tender mother here. And in her life the Lord did fear.”

Maria Lively died in 1878 at age 58. Her grave marker is the only one with a hand holding a Bible on it.

According to the 1880 U.S. Census, Milton was living on a farm in neighboring Gwinnett County with his youngest son, Milton Jr., who was 13. Milton Sr. died on on Dec. 30, 1895 at age 75. His marker at Lively Cemetery includes the Masonic symbol. The inscription reads: “Upright and just he was in all his ways. A bright example in degenerate days.”

Milton Charles Lively died in 1895 at age 75.

Milton’s sister, Judith Lively Poole Loyd, died on July 24, 1898. Her second husband, Jabez Loyd, is buried with his first wife in Prospect Methodist Cemetery in nearby Chamblee.

Judith Lively Poole Loyd died at age 71 in 1898. Her son, Charles, is buried near her in an unmarked grave.

Final Burial

Judith’s son with Jabez, Charles Loyd, died suddenly on Dec. 30, 1911 in New Orleans. His remains were brought home for burial. This is the only time I’ve seen the Lively cemetery mentioned by name in a newspaper. His grave is not marked but there are a few uninscribed stones in the plot. His is likely one of them. His wife, Lou Mauldin Loyd, is buried in Atlanta’s Westview Cemetery.

Charles Loyd, Judith Lively Poole Loyd’s son, is buried near her in Lively Cemetery but his grave is not marked.

According to Franklin Garrett’s necrology, Charles and Lou’s daughter, Rosa Lou Loyd, who only lived a few days in 1890, is also buried at Lively. Her marker may be the one that I saw that was face down. I did not want to possibly damage it by disturbing it.

I realize I’ve spent over 2,000 words on a cemetery containing about 17 people. That may seem like too many. But for a little piece of history sitting in a backyard burial ground, I think it was worth every one.

Thank you, June and Gary, for sharing this treasure with me.

“Cold in the Arms of Death”: Pausing at White County, Ga.’s Cleveland City Cemetery, Part II

I’m still at Cleveland City Cemetery in White County, Ga. In doing research for this post, I’ve consulted the local newspaper, The Cleveland Courier. It reminded me that newspapers handled obituaries in a number of different ways then. Depending on the person, it could range from a few factual sentences to something quite verbose and emotional.

Cleveland City Cemetery in February 2019

A good example of a what I’d call a more “flowery” tribute was written for George Scott Kytle when he died in 1918. A White County native born in 1870, he was the son of Calvin Kytle and Caroline Dean Kytle. Calvin had a solid reputation as a teacher and Confederate War veteran, serving on the county board of education and as a county commissioner for several years.

I found some conflicting information regarding George’s education. He’s listed in an 1893 Harvard University catalog while another note on Ancestry.com said he received his bachelor’s degree from Mercer University in 1889, took a course or two in Louisville, Ky., then read law in Cleveland with the Hon. John J. Kimsey before passing the bar exam. It’s possible all of it’s true but I’m not sure.

After Calvin retired, George succeeded his father on the school board. By the time he married Maude Bell in 1898, George was practicing law in Cleveland. Maude was the daughter of William Bell and Katie McAfee Bell, who I wrote about last week. George and Maude only had one child, Calvin, on July 22, 1900 and the baby died that day.

George and Maude Kytle’s only child, Calvin Brown Kytle, died soon after birth on July 22, 1900.

“Cold in the Arms of Death”

Like Calvin, George also served as a White County commissioner and acted as a judge. He was well liked by the community. But his health began to turn in 1918 and he was ill for several months. Spanish Flu was raging at the time but tuberculosis seems the more likely culprit. Despite a visit to California in hopes of restoring his health, he returned to Cleveland no better.

When he died on June 23, 1918 at age 47, which seems quite young to me, George’s lengthy obituary on the front page of the Cleveland Courier began like this:

Photo Source: Cleveland Courier, June 28, 1918

You may think it’s a bit much but at the time, it was the norm for some newspapers to wax rhapsodic in such a way when writing about pillars of the community. It varied depending on the deceased’s importance, of course. Judge Kytle’s family was well known in Cleveland, and both he and his father had been active in community organizations for years.

“They loved him most who knew him best.”

Maude remarried in 1922 to Dr. J.E. Norton. According to the 1940 U.S. Census, she was listed as a widow living in Oconee County with her sister, Katie Kenimer, and Katie’s family, as a nurse. Maude died on April 22, 1960 in Milledgeville, Ga. and is buried in Bishop Cemetery in Oconee County.

“Mrs. A.H. Henderson Passes Beyond”

I was a bit surprised to see the wordy write up Louisa Eliza “Aunt Eliza” Oakes Henderson received when she died on Oct. 14, 1918. Then I realized it was the same year George Kytle died so I’m thinking the same person wrote about him as well.

A native of Habersham County (which White County was carved out of) born in 1845, Eliza was from a large farming family. She married Albert Henry Henderson in December 1864 as the Civil War was coming to a close. Albert had served in the Confederacy before they wed and operated a dry goods store in the years that followed. He and Eliza had no children.

According to the Cleveland Courier, Eliza fell and broke her hip earlier that autumn. In those days, surgery for a broken hip was not usually an option and her health faltered. Interestingly enough, Albert is not even mentioned in her obituary. However, the final words are worthy of a poet’s pen.

(Photo source: Cleveland Courier, Oct. 18, 1918)

By the time Albert died (referred to as “Uncle Albert” in his obituary) on Jan. 23, 1929 at age 86, he was operating a hotel and enjoying the rewards of owning productive acreage/mines. His write up was not nearly as poetic as his wife’ but more factual. He was described as “big hearted”, good to his employees, and a faithful member of the Baptist church.

Albert and Eliza Henderson died about nine years apart. They had no children.

The Edwards Siblings

Thomas Paul Edwards and his sister, Flonnie, are an example of two people buried at Cleveland City Cemetery who didn’t actually spend much time in Cleveland but are there because their parents were born there.

Paul and Flonnie’s parents were George McDuffy Edwards, Sr. and Louisa Allison Edwards. Flonnie was born in 1893, the eldest child, followed by Wallace in 1896, Idell in 1898, Paul in 1900 and George Jr. in 1903. George was working as a machinist in Dahlonega. Wallace died in 1901 for reasons unknown and was buried in Cleveland City Cemetery.

The family had moved to Atlanta by 1910 when George got a job as a boiler maker. Daughter Lucy was born in 1912. Florrie, 16, was working as a machine operator in a paint factory. On June 17, 1915, Flonnie married James B. Davenport in Atlanta, who had grown up on a farm south of the city.

Flonnie Edwards Davenport was only 23 when she died shortly after giving birth to her daughter.

On Feb. 8, 1917, Flonnie gave birth to a daughter, Louise, and died a few days later. Her obituary is not nearly as poetic as the ones I posted earlier.

(Photo source: Cleveland Courier, Feb. 16, 1917)

Flonnie’s daughter, Louise, grew up and lived well into adulthood. She died in 1998 at 81 and is buried at Shawnee Run Baptist Church Cemetery in Harrodsburg, Ky.

Brother Paul never married but found work as a mattress maker, living at home with his parents. He contracted tuberculosis and died at age 26 on March 8, 1927. Like his sister’s obituary, a lot fewer words were used. But because of his age and that he had spent most of his life in Atlanta, it isn’t that surprising.

(Photo source: Cleveland Courier, March 8, 1927)

Paul is buried beside his little brother, Wallace. His father, who died in 1952, and his mother, who died in 1958, are also buried there. George Jr., who died in 1960, is buried at Cleveland City Cemetery but his grave does not appear to be marked. If he has one, it is not photographed on Find a Grave. Sisters Idell (who died in 1963) and Lucy (who died in 1990) are buried elsewhere.

Paul Edwards was buried in Cleveland City Cemetery because his parents were from the area.

Without Words

Then there are those that have no obituaries written about them at all. There are fieldstones (like the one pictured below) scattered about Cleveland City Cemetery that represent unknown lives with no names or dates. We may not known who they are but their lives are no less important.

All of them matter and should not be forgotten.

An anonymous fieldstone at Cleveland City Cemetery.