In Part II of my series on Newnan’s Oak Hill Cemetery, I shared stories about some of the Confederate soldiers buried there. This week, I’m going to focus on some of the prominent families at Oak Hill because many of the monuments built in their honor are simply stunning. I got to see them in their newly cleaned and restored beauty, thanks to the efforts of some Newnan residents dedicated to seeing them returned to their former glory.
I also covered Newnan’s past as a hospital city during the Civil War. One of the beautiful historic homes that is believed to have been used as a hospital is still standing today. When last I checked, it was for sale again but that may have changed.
Known as the Parrot Camp Soucy House, this 1840s home started out built in the Greek Revival style. One of Newnan’s first settlers, William Nemmons (I have seen it spelled Nimmons as well), is said to have built the house. In 1885, Judge John S. Bigby purchased it as a wedding gift to his daughter, Callie Bigby Parrott. Around that time, the home was “Victorianized” with elaborate mouldings and woodwork. Some refer to this as the Victorian Stick style.
In 1936, the house was bought by the Camp family. Chuck and Doris Soucy bought the house from the Camp family in 1984, and over the next two years they worked to restore it to its original splendor. The house was a bed and breakfast at one point and used as a filming location for the 2012 movie The Odd Life of Timothy Green.
In my research, I did discover that many Web sites inaccurately state that the house was built by Confederate surgeon Dr. Abraham North. He’s buried at Oak Hill with his wife. The problem is that his marker shows he was born 1838. That’s only a few years before the house was built so I think it’s safe to say that while Dr. North may have worked in the house when it was a Civil War hospital, he was too young to have overseen its original construction.
The Bigby-Parrott plot is the probably the grandest in Oak Hill, reflective of the two families interred there.
Judge John S. Bigby (mentioned above), the son of pioneer settlers in the Raymond community, was active in business, politics and agriculture. An U.S. Superior Court Judge for a time, he served as member of the state constitutional conventions of 1867 and 1868. Bigby was elected as a Republican 42nd Congress and later served as delegate to the Republican National Convention at Cincinnati in 1876.
Bigby became president of the Atlanta & West Point Railroad in 1876. He and his son-in-law, Charles C. Parrott, (Callie’s husband and president of Newnan National Bank) also won awards for their prize-winning cattle.
Bigby’s first wife, Mary Catherine, died in 1870 and is buried at Oak Hill. Several of their children are also buried there. Bigby remarried a year later to Lizzie Kate McClendon. He died in 1898 and is buried with Lizzie Kate at Atlanta’s Westview Cemetery.
The current condition of the Bigby-Parrot plot is in amazing shape when you see pictures of what it looked like just a few years ago. Because one of the two Parrott angels had fallen into the mud and was too heavy to manually lift, it became badly stained. The other stones also needed cleaning and some repairs. Thanks to the efforts of the Friends of Oak Hill Cemetery, funds were raised to get the angel back on her feet and have repairs made along with cleaning.
Elizabeth Beers, who often gives tours of Oak Hill Cemetery, worked tirelessly with the Friends of Oak Hill to secure the money needed. Her love for Oak Hill is enormous and she (and the Friends) are still working to make improvements.
While the muddy Parrott angel still has a few stains, she looked remarkably better than she did as do the other markers in the plot.
Born in 1858, Callie married Charles Parrott in 1878. Like Callie, Charles’ father had been a judge and he became a lawyer. He was a successful businessman, working with his father-in-law, and became president of the Newnan National Bank. He and Callie had two children, Bigby Parrott and Mary Catherine Parrott Orr. Mary and her husband, Richard Orr, are also buried in the Bigby-Parrott plot.
Charles and Callie’s son, Bigby Parrott, married Maude Gideon. He died in 1917 at the age of 38. Maude, who lived to the ripe age of 95, is buried in Fairview Cemetery in Shawnee, Okla. as is their daughter, Mari Parrott Berry.
Bigby and Maude’s child, Callie, is buried to the left of her grandfather, Charles Parrott. She only lived 16 months.
Next door to the Bigby-Parrott plot is the Berry plot. I wrote about Lieutenant Col. Thomas James Berry in Part II. Thomas’ brother, William (whom I also mentioned) was the mayor of Newnan for several years and a state representative. William’s wife, Hibernia, has an imposing monument worth noting.
Hibernia’s monument looked very different just last year. The difference between then and since it was cleaned is remarkable.
Hibernia and William had four children, Andrew, John, Olive and Thomas. All of them are buried at Oak Hill. Andrew, the eldest, died at the age of 23. John grew up to become a very successful judge but suffered from heart problems that eventually took his life at the age of 38. Olive, buried in a different plot with her husband, married Gordon Lee and lived to the age of 55.
Born in January 1870, Thomas Joel Moore must have been much loved despite his short life of six months. His marker is another example of what a good cleaning can do. Here’s how it looked in 2006.
This is how it looked when I visited in March 2016.
There’s no way of knowing for sure, but Thomas’ death may have been the final blow for his mother. Hibernia passed away a little over a year after her baby in October 1871.
The last monument I want to mention stands out simply because I’ve never seen anything like it before. A tall obelisk with two hands coming out of the clouds holds aloft a crown. Over the clouds are the words “He receives his reward.” I have no idea if it was recently cleaned as well because I have no previous photo of it beyond the Find a Grave photo from 2014 that looks very similar.
I have to admit, I stared up at it for quite a while, admiring the beauty of it. The hands holding the crown look to be in great condition.
Unfortunately, my research revealed little about Green Dennis. A native of Alabama, he married Cornelia Bigby Dennis in 1853. Cornelia was (I am 99 percent sure) the sister of Judge John S. Bigby (who married his wife, Mary Catherine, only a few months before his sister married Green).
Green Dennis served in the Confederate Army and his monument features a Masonic symbol. The 1860 Census lists him as a farmer with a personal estate valued at almost $27,000, quite a comfortable situation. He died in 1869 at the age of 52 but Cornelia lived several years after that. She died in 1906 at the age of 68.
This wraps up my series on Oak Hill Cemetery, a special place in Newnan well worth a visit. It is a testament to the hard work of people who love Oak Hill that such beautiful monuments, which could have fallen into permanent disrepair, are now enjoying a revived condition that will be appreciated for decades to come.