This is my last installment on Athens, Ga.’s Oconee Hill Cemetery. I’ve got some bits and pieces for you that I didn’t think you’d want to miss. My first item involves an initial mystery. One of my photos was of a time-worn angel monument that, as you can see, could use a good cleaning.
The only information on the monument I initially had was the following inscription:
Entered into rest.
July 21, 1892.
Only child of Wm. H. & Mary B. Waddel
Aged 21 Years
I went searching for Annie in the Athens newspapers but came up empty. Then I found a book called “The History of the Hulls” (she’s related to them) that mentioned she was married in 1891. That unlocked more of the story.
Annie was born in 1871 to William Henry Waddell (her last name is spelled Waddel on her monument) and Mary Brumby Pew Waddel. The daughter of Col. Arnoldus Vanderhorst Brumby, founder of the Georgia Military Academy in 1850, Mary came from a distinguished family. Her first husband, a Captain Pew, died. The details of that union are few.
Mary married again to William H. Waddell in 1870, a professor teaching Latin and Greek at the University of Georgia. William’s grandfather was Moses Waddell, fifth president of the University (1819-1829) and a respected educator/author. Interestingly, the 1870 Census lists Mary’s financial worth at $10,000 and her husband’s at $4,000.
“A Kind Husband, Father, Friend and Tutor”
William died on his way home from a trip in Millford, Va. on Sept. 18, 1878. His funeral notice was vague on the details of his demise. Mary and Annie went to live with her parents in Atlanta after William died. In 1883, Mary remarried a third time to Col. Walter Izzard Heyward, her former brother-in-law. He was previously married to her sister, Susannah, who had died on May 5, 1878.
Annie became engaged to Miles Green Dobbins, Jr. of Cartersville, who was connected to the Heywards. They were married on Feb. 4, 1891 at Kenwood, the Heyward home in Cartersville.
Annie died on July 21, 1892 in Cartersville. According to “The History of the Hulls”, she died “with issue”, meaning she had at least one child. Her funeral notice does not mention that or if she died in childbirth. Her monument was placed next to her father William’s grave at Oconee Hill. Why is her married name not on her marker? I don’t know.
Miles remained a bachelor for several years, remarrying in January 1905 to Estella Calhoun. She gave birth to a son, John, on Oct. 19, 1905 and died three days later at the age of 30. Little John went to live with with his grandfather and aunt. Miles died in 1930 at the age of 72 and is buried with Estella at Oak Hill Cemetery in Cartersville. Son John died in 1948 at the age of 42 and is buried in the Calhoun plot at Oak Hill.
Annie’s mother, Mary Brumby Pew Waddell Heyward, died in 1917 at the age of 72. She is buried at Westview Cemetery in Atlanta with her third husband (both are in unmarked graves) and her sister (his first wife) in the plot of her brother, Lieutenant Thomas Brumby.
In the back corner of Oconee Hill is a separate area for the Congregation Children of Israel (CCI’s) cemetery. When Oconee Hill was established in 1855, part of it was set aside for the burials of the Athens Manufacturing Company in 1873. In turn, CCI purchased part of that land and maintains the CCI Cemetery today.
Birth of Athens’ Jewish Community
Athens’ Jewish community was founded by citizens of Filehne in the Posen Area of Prussia, which is present day Wielen, Poland. In 1872, Moses Myers, along with other leading Jewish Athenians, Caspar Morris, David Michael, and Gabriel Jacobs, petitioned the Superior Court of Clarke County for a charter of incorporation for the CCI.
In 1873, the Congregation purchased land at the intersection of Jackson and Hancock Streets. In 1884, the original synagogue opened its doors, and housed CCI for the next 84 years. In 1968, a new building was dedicated on Dudley Drive.
CCI’s cemetery has about 150 burials. I could find little information on the Internet about the people buried there. Near the back corner is the Morris plot, which features this large monument to Norma Marks Morris.
Born in 1874, Norma Marks was the fourth child of Simon and Pauline Stern Marks. I noted that Simon was 50 years old when he married Pauline, age 23, in 1866 in Athens. Simon, a dry goods merchant, was from Poland and Pauline was German.
Norma married Charles Morris in 1896, a traveling salesman for a clothing store in Athens. They had two children, Rosina and Simon. The 1900 Census indicates they lived with Pauline in those days. Simon Marks had died in 1888.
According to her death notice in the Athens Banner, Norma died on April 6, 1918 after a two-day illness. Her funeral was held in her childhood home, although both her parents had passed away by that time.
Charles disappears after the 1920 Census, and I cannot find a record of him buried in the CCI Cemetery.
One thing I noticed was this lovely garden bench created by the J.L. Mott Iron Works Co. of New York City, a company established in 1828. It is in very good shape considering how old it probably is. Mott also made fine quality porcelain sinks and bathtubs, some of which ended up in the White House.
There are two mausoleums in the very back corner of the cemetery, the Michael mausoleum on the left and the Morris mausoleum directly across from it. Although I took pictures through the glass of the doors of the Morris mausoleum, I could not make out exactly which Morrises are interred within it.
The stained glass inside features a menorah.
Behind the bench is the Michael family mausoleum. I was able to make out the names of Simon Michael (1859-1932), his wife, Anna Phillips Michael (1863-1945), and their son, Bert Michael (1893-1912). Also inside are Simon and Anna’s son, Max, and his daughter, Cecilia. I cannot make out whom the sixth person is, it may be Max’s wife.
Born in 1859 in Chicago, Simon Michael moved with his family to Jefferson, Ga. In 1882, he and his brother, Moses, opened Michael Brothers Wholesale and Retail Dry Goods Store. That same year, on March 14, he married Anna Phillips.
Over the years, they expanded several times. In 1893, they operated out of a five-story building, the tallest in Athens at the time. Their slogan was “Michael Brothers: Since 1882, the Store Good Goods Made Popular.”
By 1910, Simon and Anna had four sons: Morris, Max, Ernest, and Bert. Max was an attorney while both Morris, Ernest, and Bert helped Simon at the store.
A Son’s Sad End
Youngest son Bert completed his studies at the University of Georgia in June 1912 at the age of 18, but due to an appendicitis, could not attend his graduation. He was recovering at St. Joseph’s Infirmary (now Emory St. Joseph’s Hospital) in Atlanta when he died on July 28, 1912. Simon and Anna, who had been in Germany visiting family when he was transferred to Atlanta, made it home in time to be at his side when he died.
Because there is a date of MCMXII above the door of the Michael mausoleum, I believe young Bert was the first to be interred within it.
Gone in 39 Minutes
In 1921, a fire began in the Max Joseph building at the corner of Clayton and Wall Streets. Also present in that building was automobile retailer Denny Motor Company, which had drums of petroleum stored on the first floor. Within 45 minutes, the fire had consumed the Joseph building and both Michael Bros. establishments.
Moses and Simon noted that, “The commercial monument which we have striven through 39 years to erect was licked up in almost 39 minutes by the cruel tongue of fire and flame.”
The Michael brothers vowed to rebuild bigger and better. Opening in 1922, the new building was 55,000 square feet and designed by noted Atlanta architect Neel Reid. It was Athens’ first building with overhead sprinklers.
Many employees of the Michael Bros. store stayed with the organization for years. They also understood their customers’ hardships during the Great Depression, allowing them to add to their unpaid account balances. Both brothers were active in civic organizations and charitable groups.
A Tragic History Repeats Itself
The death of Simon Michael was sadly reminiscent of his son Bert’s in 1912.
In March 1932, Simon entered the hospital with appendicitis. The surgery was thought to be a success. On March 14, the day of his 50th wedding anniversary to Anna, he was recovering in the hospital. According to his death notice in the Atlanta Constitution, he had received many well-wishing visitors that day. It reads, “Friends believed the excitement of the day hastened his death.” His death certificate notes that heart disease was a contributing factor.
Moses continued running the store until his wife Emma’s death in February 1944. He died in November 1944. They are interred in a separate double mausoleum in the CCI Cemetery. Anna died in 1945. Son Max’s daughter, Cecelia, died at the age of 5 in 1917 and was placed in the mausoleum then. Max died in 1949 and joined his daughter, parents, and brother Bert inside.
Leaving Oconee Hill Cemetery, I thought about the years I spent in Athens and how much I grew and changed as a person. Most of what I learned was outside the classroom, I admit, in my interaction with the people I encountered. Some of it was downright painful, but most of it was wonderful. I met and became friends with a small handful of people I still consider dear friends today. It was the gateway to my life as a grownup.
I wish I had visited Oconee Hill back then, but I’m glad my family indulged my wish on a sunny Mother’s Day to discover a precious gem in a familiar setting. Maybe when football season is over, I can go back and visit the graves I missed.