I’m still at Cleveland City Cemetery in White County, Ga. In doing research for this post, I’ve consulted the local newspaper, The Cleveland Courier. It reminded me that newspapers handled obituaries in a number of different ways then. Depending on the person, it could range from a few factual sentences to something quite verbose and emotional.
A good example of a what I’d call a more “flowery” tribute was written for George Scott Kytle when he died in 1918. A White County native born in 1870, he was the son of Calvin Kytle and Caroline Dean Kytle. Calvin had a solid reputation as a teacher and Confederate War veteran, serving on the county board of education and as a county commissioner for several years.
I found some conflicting information regarding George’s education. He’s listed in an 1893 Harvard University catalog while another note on Ancestry.com said he received his bachelor’s degree from Mercer University in 1889, took a course or two in Louisville, Ky., then read law in Cleveland with the Hon. John J. Kimsey before passing the bar exam. It’s possible all of it’s true but I’m not sure.
After Calvin retired, George succeeded his father on the school board. By the time he married Maude Bell in 1898, George was practicing law in Cleveland. Maude was the daughter of William Bell and Katie McAfee Bell, who I wrote about last week. George and Maude only had one child, Calvin, on July 22, 1900 and the baby died that day.
“Cold in the Arms of Death”
Like Calvin, George also served as a White County commissioner and acted as a judge. He was well liked by the community. But his health began to turn in 1918 and he was ill for several months. Spanish Flu was raging at the time but tuberculosis seems the more likely culprit. Despite a visit to California in hopes of restoring his health, he returned to Cleveland no better.
When he died on June 23, 1918 at age 47, which seems quite young to me, George’s lengthy obituary on the front page of the Cleveland Courier began like this:
You may think it’s a bit much but at the time, it was the norm for some newspapers to wax rhapsodic in such a way when writing about pillars of the community. It varied depending on the deceased’s importance, of course. Judge Kytle’s family was well known in Cleveland, and both he and his father had been active in community organizations for years.
Maude remarried in 1922 to Dr. J.E. Norton. According to the 1940 U.S. Census, she was listed as a widow living in Oconee County with her sister, Katie Kenimer, and Katie’s family, as a nurse. Maude died on April 22, 1960 in Milledgeville, Ga. and is buried in Bishop Cemetery in Oconee County.
“Mrs. A.H. Henderson Passes Beyond”
I was a bit surprised to see the wordy write up Louisa Eliza “Aunt Eliza” Oakes Henderson received when she died on Oct. 14, 1918. Then I realized it was the same year George Kytle died so I’m thinking the same person wrote about him as well.
A native of Habersham County (which White County was carved out of) born in 1845, Eliza was from a large farming family. She married Albert Henry Henderson in December 1864 as the Civil War was coming to a close. Albert had served in the Confederacy before they wed and operated a dry goods store in the years that followed. He and Eliza had no children.
According to the Cleveland Courier, Eliza fell and broke her hip earlier that autumn. In those days, surgery for a broken hip was not usually an option and her health faltered. Interestingly enough, Albert is not even mentioned in her obituary. However, the final words are worthy of a poet’s pen.
By the time Albert died (referred to as “Uncle Albert” in his obituary) on Jan. 23, 1929 at age 86, he was operating a hotel and enjoying the rewards of owning productive acreage/mines. His write up was not nearly as poetic as his wife’ but more factual. He was described as “big hearted”, good to his employees, and a faithful member of the Baptist church.
The Edwards Siblings
Thomas Paul Edwards and his sister, Flonnie, are an example of two people buried at Cleveland City Cemetery who didn’t actually spend much time in Cleveland but are there because their parents were born there.
Paul and Flonnie’s parents were George McDuffy Edwards, Sr. and Louisa Allison Edwards. Flonnie was born in 1893, the eldest child, followed by Wallace in 1896, Idell in 1898, Paul in 1900 and George Jr. in 1903. George was working as a machinist in Dahlonega. Wallace died in 1901 for reasons unknown and was buried in Cleveland City Cemetery.
The family had moved to Atlanta by 1910 when George got a job as a boiler maker. Daughter Lucy was born in 1912. Florrie, 16, was working as a machine operator in a paint factory. On June 17, 1915, Flonnie married James B. Davenport in Atlanta, who had grown up on a farm south of the city.
On Feb. 8, 1917, Flonnie gave birth to a daughter, Louise, and died a few days later. Her obituary is not nearly as poetic as the ones I posted earlier.
Flonnie’s daughter, Louise, grew up and lived well into adulthood. She died in 1998 at 81 and is buried at Shawnee Run Baptist Church Cemetery in Harrodsburg, Ky.
Brother Paul never married but found work as a mattress maker, living at home with his parents. He contracted tuberculosis and died at age 26 on March 8, 1927. Like his sister’s obituary, a lot fewer words were used. But because of his age and that he had spent most of his life in Atlanta, it isn’t that surprising.
Paul is buried beside his little brother, Wallace. His father, who died in 1952, and his mother, who died in 1958, are also buried there. George Jr., who died in 1960, is buried at Cleveland City Cemetery but his grave does not appear to be marked. If he has one, it is not photographed on Find a Grave. Sisters Idell (who died in 1963) and Lucy (who died in 1990) are buried elsewhere.
Then there are those that have no obituaries written about them at all. There are fieldstones (like the one pictured below) scattered about Cleveland City Cemetery that represent unknown lives with no names or dates. We may not known who they are but their lives are no less important.
All of them matter and should not be forgotten.