After taking a few weeks off to celebrate the holidays with my family and friends, I’m back with Part III of my series on Augusta’s Magnolia Cemetery.
A plot near the center of the cemetery contains the graves of two of the men who established the Augusta Orphan Asylum in 1852. The name was changed to the Tuttle-Newton Home in 1915 to honor its original founders Isaac Tuttle and his stepson, Dr. Benjamin Newton.
Sometime after 1813, Isaac Tuttle married widow Harriet Bond Tuttle and became the stepfather of her young son, Benjamin Newton. Benjamin received his Bachelor’s of medicine degree from the Medical Academy of Georgia and Doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania. He joined Augusta’s Medical College of Georgia’s (MCG) faculty in 1833. The Augusta Orphan Asylum started in the Tuttle home, where Isaac and Harriet took in orphans at 516 Walker St.
When Tuttle died in 1855 at the age of 71, he left the house to the Augusta Orphan Asylum. Dr. Newton continued his stepfather’s work as best he could.
In 1857, Dr. Newton married Mary Frances “Fanny” Butts, a free woman of color. He resigned his position at MCG despite the fact his students urged him strongly to stay. Sadly, Dr. Newton died only two years later of lockjaw caused by injuries received in a fall from a buggy. He left property worth about $200,000 to the Asylum.
Fanny would later give birth to John Hope, the founder of Morehouse College. She is buried in Augusta’s Cedar Grove Cemetery beside the son she had with Dr. Newton, Madison Joseph Newton.
During the decades that followed, the institution relocated several times, occupying what became prime property in Augusta. MCG, Gracewood and Sweetheart Cup on Wrightsboro Road now stand on sites where Tuttle-Newton once operated its orphanage. In the early 1950s, Tuttle-Newton bought about 10 acres on Milledge Road and provided emergency and temporary care for about three years.
In 1974, Tuttle-Newton moved to offices on Central Avenue. It remains on Central today, a few doors nearer downtown. As the needs of families and children have changed and as the social services landscape evolved, Tuttle-Newton has adapted, addressing gaps in the social service delivery system. Last year, it served more than 500 families.
Isaac Tuttle, Dr. Newton and Harriet Bond Tuttle are buried in the plot. Surrounding the monument are small markers representing just a handful of the children who were left at the asylum.
These small marker represent just a handful of children who were left at the Augusta Orphans Asylum that died young.
Against the back wall, you can find many Jewish graves of the B’Nai Israel Congregation. They are not fenced off and I saw little traditional Jewish iconography on them, such as the Star of David. This area was organized by the Hebrew Benevolent Society in 1861.
While a few Jews began settling in Augusta staring in the early 1800s, more German Jews came in the 1840s. In 1846, they established their own congregation, B’Nai Israel (Children of Israel). There were 20 charter members. More Jews began arriving from Charleston during the Civil War. B’Nai Israel evolved into a Reform congregation, building its first Temple on Telfair Street in 1870.
One small broken marker in that area got my attention. When I started looking into the life of this Confederate soldier, I learned something I didn’t know about Augusta’s Jewish community. More than 10,000 Jews fought for the Confederacy.
Charleston Rabbi Bertram Korn said, “Nowhere else in America — certainly not in the Antebelum North — had Jews been accorded such an opportunity to be complete equals in the South.” Gen. Robert E. Lee allowed his Jewish soldiers to observe all holy days while Union Gens. Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman issued anti-Jewish orders.
The Levy brothers were two Jewish Confederate soldiers, both serving in Company A of Georgia’s 22nd Infantry. Nathan and Jake were the sons of Isaac Levy, a Charleston-born man who moved to Augusta. He married his wife, Angelica Hydenfelt, in 1841. Isaac served as Augusta’s sheriff for several years. Son Henry served under him as a deputy sheriff, according to the 1870 Census.
Lieut. Nathan Elcan Levy’s broken marker notes that he died in July 1864 in the Battle of the Crater in Petersburg, Va. He was 21 at the time of his death. I’ve seen mentions that before he became a soldier he was studying to be a lawyer.
Younger brother Jake died less than a year later in February 1865 at the Battle of Hatcher’s Run, also near Petersburg, Va. He was 19 at the time. I did not get a photo of Jake’s grave. But both are inscribed with the words, “A mother’s tribute to her darling”.” I can’t imagine the sorrow of Isaac and Angelica Levy, losing both of their sons so young.
There are two small fenced Jewish sections further down but the Adas Yeshurun Congregation area on the far side of the cemetery is clearly the largest. Plots are still available in it and many recent burials have taken place there.
Close by both the B’nai Israel and Augusta Orphans Home areas is a large Confederate section containing the graves of approximately 337 Confederate soldiers.
Just next door is a group of 16 markers for Union soldiers who died as prisoners of war in Augusta. I read in more than one source that nearly 200 Union graves were once at Magnolia but were eventually disinterred for removal to Marietta National Cemetery.
Oddly, two Confederate graves stand among the Union graves that remain. Corporal Alfred F. Mayo died in August 1864 as a soldier in Florida’s 11th Infantry, Co. K. Patrick B. Cannon died in 1863, serving as a volunteer in the 19th Ga. Volunteer Infantry. I have no idea why they are buried among Union soldiers.
Magnolia does have a small plot dedicated to veterans of the Spanish American War. I could only see a handful of markers but about 50 are said to be buried there. In 2004, the Sons of the Spanish American War Micah John Jenkins Camp No. 164 was founded to honor these men.
Like many large cemeteries, Magnolia does have a Pauper’s Field for the poor who could not afford burial. A handful of markers dot its landscape.
I did not get pictures of the Masonic or Greek sections during my visit, unfortunately. There was so much to see, I found it difficult to photograph everything I wanted to.
Because of that fact, I’ll have a Part IV next time to detail the history of the De L’Aigle family, share how a talented sculptor’s work is still being carried out today and feature some lovely wrought iron work.