Last week, I introduced you to Eufaula, Ala.’s Fairview Cemetery. One thing I learned this week was that former NBCToday show host Katie Couric’s parents and sister are buried there. I did not get a picture of their graves, unfortunately. They’re buried in the newer part of the cemetery.
Fairview Cemetery features a number of brick-based graves in varying states of condition. I was unable to determine if Eufaula had a brick factory at one time. However, it’s not unusual for me to find brick-based graves in Southern cemeteries. They simply used what they had. Some graves at Fairview are clearly in poor condition and have not stood the test of time.
Then you have those that are in decent shape but have no identifying plate to show whom the deceased was.
Here’s an actual brick tomb with no identifying plate for the deceased. I’ve seen a good number of these over the years but usually in better condition.
But there are a number of brick-based graves that are in good shape and have plates to identify the person buried there. Such is the case of young Samuel McLeod Garrett. Born in 1874 to carpenter James and Sarah McLeod Garrett, Samuel lost his mother when he was only a baby. His older sister, Ann Garett Cobb, helped raise him. A Civil War veteran, James died when Samuel was 14. He’s also buried at Fairview.
“Death Came as a Blessed Deliverer”
In 1898, Samuel married Alice Helms and they had a child. He had a good job as a compositor at Eufaula’s Daily Times newspaper. According to his obituary, he suffered poor health the last year of his life. He died at age 25 on April 26, 1900. The newspaper’s office announced it would be closed on the day of his funeral to honor his memory.
Then you have a brick grave for high-ranking Confederate Civil War Col. Hiram Hawkins. Born in Bath County, Ky. on Sept. 9, 1826, Hawkins was one of the seven sons of Thomas and Mary “Polly” Deen Hawkins. He also had five sisters. He took over running the family farm and store after his father died of cholera.
Life of a Confederate Colonel
Hawkins was commander of the 5th Kentucky (CSA) Volunteer Infantry, which was part of the famous Kentucky “Orphan Brigade“. Hawkins helped raise the regiment in Eastern Kentucky in 1861, and commanded it as its Lieutenant Colonel before being promoted its Colonel. He led the regiment in such battles as Chickamauga, Resaca, Dallas, Atlanta, and Jonesboro, commanding it up its the surrender on May 6, 1865. After the war, he and his wife settled permanently in Eufaula.
Hawkins was first married to Mary Workman of Bath, Ky. on Sept. 8, 1853. She died on August 1, 1860 and is buried in Old Bethel Cemetery in Kentucky. His second marriage was to widow Louisiana Nuckolls Boykin on Sept. 22, 1864. He had met her that same year while recovering on “wounded leave” in Alabama. Col. Hawkins’ mother, Polly, lived with the couple after they married.
Col. Hawkins was president of Eufaula’s Union Female College during the early 1870s. Later he was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 1882 and 1884. He was also involved with many agricultural organizations around the state and pushed for more modern farming methods to be used.
Mary “Polly” Deen Hawkins died on April 20, 1881 at age 76. Col. Hawkins’ wife, Louisiana, died on Aug. 10, 1895 at age 63. The two women share a beautiful monument.
Why Such a Simple Marker?
Col. Hawkins lived on for several years, dying on July 27, 1913 at age 87. I found it interesting that his own marker is a simple government-issued military marker that has his death date incorrect as 1914. For such a prominent citizen, this surprised me. However, I have a theory that his name/dates were meant to be carved onto the larger marker that his mother and wife shared.
What leads me to that conclusion? I noticed that on one of the blank sides there is the Masonic compass symbol below a wheat sheaf. Being that women could not be Masons (only members of the Order of the Eastern Star, the Masonic auxiliary for women), this must have been carved in advance for Col. Hawkins.
So why were his name and dates never added to the marker? I can only surmise that there were no local family members left to pay for it. I noticed a newspaper item that said his will included 13 heirs, with one living in Oregon.
“Our Darling Vada”
There is a lasting mystery to the Hawkins family plot that I was unable to solve. On the end of the row of graves beside the one for Mary “Polly” Deen Hawkins is a marker for “Our Darling Vada”. It is topped with lily of the valley, which is meant to signify innocence and purity. Was this a child of Col. Hawkins and Louisiana that died in childhood? Any biography I read on the Colonel or his wife said they had no children. So the identity of Vada remains a mystery.
Two Little Boys
Then there are these two graves for the children of alderman/postmaster Eugene L. Brown and his wife, Mary Serena Hoole Brown. Mary was actually the brother of James Lingard Hoole, whom I featured in last week’s blog post. The couple had married in Eufaula in 1871. J. Lingard Brown was born on July 4, 1873 and died on Oct. 24, 1873. His brother, Eugene, was born on June 25, 1880 and died at the age of three on March 20, 1883. His death was reported in the local newspaper.
Eugene and Serena Brown did have several children who lived to adulthood. Eugene died in 1908 at age 62 and Serena died in 1915 at age 70. They are both buried at Fairview but unlike their children, the couple’s graves are not marked.
“He Bears Our Best-Loved Things Away”
I think the two saddest brick graves that I found while wandering through Fairview were for brothers Levi and Alonzo Thweatt. They were the sons of John and Elizabeth Sharp Thweatt. Alonzo was born in 1845 and Levi in 1846. Both brothers fought together for the Confederacy in the Civil War as part of Georgia’s Columbus Light Artillery.
The brothers survived the war and returned home. They worked in a grocery store. But Levi’s health was devastated by tuberculosis and he died on May 14, 1870. His marker on top the brick foundation is broken but the pieces are together.
Alonzo never married, living with his mother, Elizabeth, his brother, John, and his family. He died on June 15, 1880 at the age of 35. His grave marker has been broken into pieces and scattered across the brick foundation. Among the pieces are large seashells, not unusual on a Southern grave.
One of the pieces of Alonzo’s marker includes an inscription of part of a poem written by John Luckey McCreery called “There is No Death”
There is no death! An angel form
Walks o’er the earth with silent tread;
He bears our best-loved things away,
And then we call them “dead.”
Hopefully, Alonzo’s grave marker will be repaired or replaced with a new one some day.
There are more stories still to share from Fairview Cemetery. Part III is coming soon.