When I talk about cemetery hopping, I am often asked this question:
Why do you do this?
This week’s post should answer that question for both you and me.
A few months ago, I visited Old Fellowship Cemetery here in Tucker. Oddly enough, it is located at the end of a residential street behind a wooden fence with the name on a simple sign. Four of the graves are of Revolutionary War veterans who ended up making Georgia their home. The stacked stone graves are fascinating. I’ve never seen anything quite like them before.
Located nearby is Fellowship Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, established some time after Old Fellowship Cemetery was. Nobody I’ve asked locally knows why there are two cemeteries, it happened so long ago.
Fellowship Primitive Baptist Church was established in 1829. The original church building burned sometime after 1910. Most of the cemetery records were destroyed in the blaze but the remnants are said to be maintained at the Mercer University Library in Macon, Ga. I haven’t gotten there yet to see if that’s true, but I hope to eventually.
I’ve read that at most Primitive Baptist churches, the sexes sat on opposite sides of the church. I don’t know if this was the practice at this church. They did have separate entrances for men and women, according to a photo (see above). Despite how it sounds, this was not supposed to be a form of discrimination but a way of showing that marriage between men and women was not the major factor to God. While in the church, men and women were supposed to forget earthly ties and concentrate on their worship. Not each other.
While there’s nothing left of the church today, the cemetery is still there. It’s situated between two churches, the First Presbyterian Church of Tucker on the right and the Iglesia Evangelical Apostle Proseta on the left. From what I can tell, the cemetery is fairly well taken care of and is mowed often.
Having passed it many times, I decided to take a look around one day while my son was attending Vacation Bible School nearby. I realized that many of the graves had not been documented, much less photographed. I spent the next few mornings (before it got too hot) taking pictures and poking around. During my work, I managed to get bitten by ants for the first time. Thankfully, I had on sneakers and socks so it wasn’t too horrible. I think I eventually created over 100 new memorial pages with photos.
Several weeks later, I noticed there was a photo request on Find a Grave for the grave of Carrie Turner at this cemetery. The name did not sound familiar but I had definitely created a memorial page for her. As I looked back in my files, I realized I had forgotten to post the picture, so I quickly did. That, I thought, would be the end of it.
It wasn’t. Not by a long shot.
Shortly after I posted the photo of Carrie’s grave and e-mailed an apology to Janet (the requester), she posted this on my Find a Grave message page:
Thank you so much, my hands are actually shaking writing this, I just know this is my grandmother Carrie. I have spoken to my siblings and we are now planning to make another fact finding trip to Georgia with this new information.
Currently living in New Jersey, Janet was a Find a Grave volunteer in the past. Periodically, she would check the website to see if someone might have found her grandmother’s grave. Unwittingly, that someone was me!
As I continued to correspond with Janet, she told me more about her family. She has given me permission to share their story here.
Francis and Carrie Turner lived in rural Tucker in 1910. Records indicate that Francis was born in Lumpkin County, Ga., although his parents were from South Carolina. Carrie grew up in Coweta County, Ga. There was a 25 year age difference between the two, but their union did produce four children. They had a set of male twins, a daughter and another son. Janet’s father was their youngest child.
Unfortunately, Carrie died of pneumonia in 1917 at the age of 40. Francis, then 65, was left with a daunting decision to make. He was poor and his own health was not very good. How was he going to take care of four young children, all of them under the age of 10? It’s a heart-breaking situation few of us would envy.
Ultimately, Francis took his children to the Baptist Children’s Home, then located in Hapeville. He entrusted his children to the care of the orphanage, where they grew up and started lives of their own. Out of the four Turner siblings, only Janet’s father and mother had children.
Janet and her siblings visited Georgia four years ago, hoping to find out more. They visited the Georgia Baptist Children’s Home, now in Palmetto, and found papers that proved the orphanage story was indeed true. She wrote:
[We] are presently in the process of finding out what we have to do legally to unite the twin brothers in one grave, they are in different cemeteries, since neither of them had children and are buried alone. Every piece of the puzzle is so important and it is my life dream to find my grandmother’s family and my grandfather’s family to perhaps, with the grace of God, find a photo of them, and to reach out to what I believe could be a large family.
Janet and her family are now looking for a professional genealogist in Georgia to do the legwork in finding out more about her grandparents. I hope to be of use to them in some small way, if only to track down some documents locally. Hopefully, they will learn more about Carrie and the other Turners. I’m looking forward to meeting Janet and her siblings in person when they come to Georgia.
Sometimes I do question why I enjoy spending my time poking around in old graveyards. Taking photos while sidestepping ant hills and sweating under a hot Georgia sun (during the rare times it wasn’t raining this summer). I admit that when I was photographing this cemetery, it did cross my mind. Why on earth do I do this?
The answer is that I do it for people like Janet who are seeking answers to their family’s past. I am elated that by simply taking a picture, I helped her find her grandmother. I want to keep doing this. I love doing this!
I think that reason’s good enough for me.
Jenny Muller said:
What a wonderful story! It is sad that they didn’t know where she was buried. Happy that you were able to give this family some peace about her. Great job Traci!!
Very nice story Traci
Thanks, Mike, I appreciate that.
What an interesting avocation–and such a great story. Thanks for sharing!
Glad you enjoyed it, Katie!
CB Glover said:
Excellent work………CB Glover
You might check with Charles Turner he lives on Ball Park Dr. in Tucker his father was Roy Turner and lived in Tucker for many years, Charles is in his late 80’s early 90’s so he might could shed some light on this Turner family.
Thanks for the lead, Jimmy. I will see what I can do about talking to him.
Thank you! I enjoyed every minute.
Janet Turner said:
Traci, thank you for including my Grandmother Carrie in your story about the Fellowship Cemetery. My family is very moved by your dedicated compassion in documenting the cemeteries and the gravesites. We are only one example that what you do impacts positively on the lives of so many.
Your efforts have opened a new door for our research and we will be returning to Georgia as soon as we can to continue, thanks to your efforts and I look forward to meeting you. Thank you and God Bless you, Janet Turner and the family of Carrie E. Turner
Janet, you are quite welcome. Thank YOU for letting me share your family’s story. It’s exciting to think about the new directions your research is going to take. I am looking forward to meeting you and your family as well! I know that soon I will be writing a follow up about Carrie and what you discovered. Much love to you and your family.
Janet Turner said:
Just a minor correction to your article about my grandfather (in case someone has a connection to him reads your article) my grandfather Francis M. Turner was born in Lumpkin County, Ga., his parents were from South Carolina. According to the 1880 Federal Census there were many Turner families in his area in Lumpkin County, Ga. I can only assume they were different branches of his family. Thank you.. Janet Turner
I’ve made the correction. Thank you for letting me know. 🙂
Carol Griffin said:
Wow! Recently i have been on ancestry.com looking at my family history. My great grandfather was Roy Turner and his brother was Dewey, i just learned today about his book through Tucker Historical Society. There may be some information in the book. Charles Turner is my uncle, still in Tucker. My aunt Dorothy Turner Wallace lives there too. My families cemetery is at Chamblee Tucker behind the QT. lots of Turners in there. My aunt took my cousin through not too long ago and gave her the run down. I hope to get back down soon and talk to her. I know my great great grandmother Turner was Jenny/Ginny Singleton. Maybe this might help Janet, but could be a different line. Good luck! I hope to follow you….I love old graves and history too.
Carol, I gave Janet your e-mail address so that she could contact you. Hopefully, you two can swap information. The cemetery you are talking about is Pleasant Hill Baptist Church’s cemetery. I live less than a mile from it, have taken pictures there a few times. It is still quite active and is nicely taken care of.
Janet Turner said:
Thank you for taking the time to pass along your information. You are right, there are a lot of Turners in Georgia. However, I do not pass up any Turner information and will fill it with all my “TBC” (to be connected) lol, I am excited for you having a Turner cemetery to go through and have so much information and history, hope you make it very soon. Thank you, Janet
I talked to my father earlier and I miss spoke, Dewey Turner in Tucker was not related to our side. My Great grandfathers brothers name was Doyle. Maybe you have a connection with Dewey’s family, my dad said he wrote the local “Tucker Tattler”. Good luck!
Traci, this is an old confederate cemetery at my neighborhood in Gainesville, used to be Oscarville. The local Masonic Lodge keeps it cleaned up now…. you might be interested in this one if ever at Lake Lanier…. approx. 1 hour from Tucker….. http://www.mastermason.com/mtzion/cemetery.htm
Oh, wow, I think I’m going to have to go see that one! Thanks for telling me about it. I love the smaller, older ones. Especially if I can research the histories of the families buried there.
Walter J. Bussell said:
Love reading your column, and love that you but it in so beautiful verse. Your thoughts are exactly what drove me to do it too.. Thanks and cyber hugs, Bud
Bud, you are so kind! You guided me through my baby steps with Find a Grave, I owe you a lot. Thank you for being a good friend. Hope you will stay in touch. Love to you and Vicky Sue!
Jeanne Bryan Insalaco said:
I recently made contact with Janet, finding her on Ancestry as I was trying to connect my Turner family from Lumpkin Co., and it turns out my Turner is a brother to her Francis, so I’m working with her trying to help her connect our Turner line even further back. I blog also on wordpress and I enjoyed reading your story. i also like cemetery hunting, and If I wasn’t researching my family lines I would be more involved in FindAGrave, esp those older cemeteries. There’s something about walking through cemeteries and talking to those stones and wanting to hear their stories. I have more Turner blog posts planned in trying to tie up the lines, would you mind if I added a link back to your post? My blog is at:
Hi, Jeanne! You have no idea how happy it makes me that you were able to connect with Janet about Francis Turner. I have not had time to follow up with her. If you ever find his grave, please let me know. I don’t think he is with Carrie but it’s possible. He may just be unmarked.
It’s a little ironic that you are tracing Turners because there are many Turners in my family tree as well as Riders. They all came from Kentucky.
Thanks so much for the update, give Janet my best! ❤️
Jeanne Bryan Insalaco said:
Hello, Ironic you mention Rider as Francis’s sister Mary A. Turner, married a Samuel Rider. Samuel H Rider
BIRTH JUN 1862 • Lumpkin County, Georgia, USA
As I do my Turner posts, may I offer a link back to this blog post?
Absolutely! That woukd be great!
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