(Note: This is a LONG post. There was too much great information I couldn’t leave out.)
This week I’m diving into a small family cemetery I visited in April 2019. It started with a comment left on the blog by a lovely woman named June McFarland Moss telling me about a cemetery in her Dekalb County, Ga. neighborhood near Tucker. I used to live in Tucker so I was immediately interested.
Lively Family Farmhouse Restored
June, a retired Georgia State University director of technical support services, purchased the old Lively family farmhouse with her husband, Gary, in 1987 and restored it to its former glory. June invited me to visit the farmhouse and to walk down the street to the Lively Cemetery.
Born in 1772, Virginia native Charles Milton Lively came to Georgia in the early 1800s. He lived in Elbert and Morgan Counties before settling in Dekalb County, building the farmhouse around 1832. Charles’ great-great-grandson Lewell Lively was the owner when the Mosses bought it.
The farmhouse is located across the way from a Dekalb landmark, the “White House” at 3687 Briarcliff Road. In 1979, Iranian-born Fred Milani fled his homeland and sought shelter in America. He did extremely well in real-estate over the next 20 years. In 2002, he built a 3/4 replica of the White House to express his love for his adopted country (he is an American citizen now).
June and Gary weren’t aware of the cemetery for some time because its in the backyard of a neighbor down the street on property once part of the Lively farm. I’ve visited several of these “backyard burial grounds” in Dekalb over the years. Usually, there’s a small pubic access path on the property so people can legally visit. Of course, it’s always nice to ask in advance so you don’t freak the homeowner out. June had contacted her neighbor to let them know we’d be coming through that day.
Backyard Burial Ground
The cemetery is located in the back corner of the yard, and you can see how close it is to the adjoining properties. I was happy to see that while markers were on the ground, they were mostly readable and intact. At one time, these were upright, grounded by slotted bases. The plot is surrounded by a cement block border.
We’re not sure when Charles Lively married Mary Lambert, who is believed to also be from Virginia. Most of their eight children were born while living in Morgan County. Two are buried in this cemetery.
Charles died sometime between Sept. 23, 1840 when he wrote his will and Jan. 22, 1841, when appraisers were selected for his estate. His grave marker is likely the blank slab next to Mary’s grave. When historian Franklin Garrett visited the cemetery in 1933 and wrote it up in his famous necrology, he described it as being an uninscribed stone box tomb.
Charles’ will left everything to Mary and his children. He also owned property in Gwinnett and Cobb Counties.
The Lively daughters married over the next years. A few moved out of state but others remained nearby. Only son Milton Charles Lively was born in 1820. He married Martha Maria Johnston around the time his father died. He and Maria were likely living in the farmhouse with his mother, Mary, after Charles died.
Sister Judith was living just down the road with her husband, Alfred Poole. They married in 1846. Greenville Henderson, for whom Henderson Mill Road is named, was another neighbor. He operated a grist mill with his sons for several years.
“Suffer the Little Children”
Five of the 11 inscribed graves at Lively Cemetery belong to children.
One of Milton’s sisters, Lucinda, married Thomas Dabbs around 1840. At some point, they moved to Bartow County. Their daughter, Nancy, was born on Feb. 20, 1844. She died at age five on Dec. 21, 1849. She is the second burial in Lively Cemetery.
The next three graves belong to children of Milton and Maria. Daughter Mary M. Lively was their sixth child, born on Jan. 4, 1852 and died on Oct. 26, 1852. Son John W. Lively was born on Nov. 3, 1853 and died on Dec. 10, 1855. Son James B. Lively was born on Nov. 27, 1857 and died on April 2, 1859.
Earlier I mentioned Charles’s daughter Lucinda and her husband, Alfred J.H. Poole. Alfred enlisted in the Confederate Army in fall 1862 and was elected lieutenant. He was promoted to captain the following year. The accident that ended his life is described in this article that appeared in the Macon Telegraph from the Atlanta Constitution on Jan. 11, 1863.
Capt. Poole was 38 when he passed away. The inscription on his stone reads: “O man immortal by a double prize, By fame on earth by glory in the skies.” His last name is spelled Pool on his marker but in most places, I have seen it spelled Poole.
Alfred and Judith had no children. She remarried to Jabez Loyd, a widower with five children, in 1868. Their son, Charles Loyd, was born in 1870.
Union General James McPherson’s Visit
The Civil War changed Atlanta and Dekalb County forever. I wanted to see how Milton Charles Lively was involved and found him listed on an 1860-1864 Georgia Civil War Muster Roll. I saw names of Dekalb pioneers like Capt. W.J. Donaldson, who went on to build the Donaldson-Bannister farmhouse in Dunwoody. Salathiel Adams, whose family has a similar backyard cemetery near Nancy Creek Road, is on it. Greenville Henderson’s sons, William and Rufus, are also on the list.
Carol Harrison, a friend of Judy and Gary, has done considerable research on the Livelys. She shared with them a letter written by General William T. Sherman (yes, THAT Sherman) on July 18, 1864 to General James Birdseye McPherson. Gen. Sherman was staying at the Samuel House plantation home, commandeered by the Union. The date of this letter is important because four days later the infamous Battle of Atlanta would begin.
The Livelys had a connection to the House family. Charles and Mary’s granddaughter Frances Jones was married to Jacob Guyton House, son of Samuel House, owner of the House plantation where Sherman was staying.
On July 18, 1864, Sherman wrote to McPherson, who was given command of the Army of the Tennessee in March that year. I won’t include all of the letter but here’s the part that includes the Lively farmhouse.
Tell Garrard that it will be much easier to break the telegraph and road today and night than if he waits longer. This negro says there is a road leading to Stone Mountain from Mr. Lively’s on the Decatur road, on which I suppose you to be. At any rate, I will be here till evening and would like to hear from you.
The distance between Samuel House’ plantation and the Lively farmhouse is about five miles. At that time, Milton Charles Lively was fighting with the Confederate Army. Mary, Charles Lively’s widow, was living in Alabama with one of her daughters. Milton’s son, Charles Pinkney Lively (nicknamed “Pink”) was a first lieutenant with the Georgia Cavalry (Co. B of Cobb’s Legion), so he wasn’t there. It’s highly possible the house was empty at the time as many residents had fled the city. But it certainly looks like General McPherson stayed there.
I looked up to see where Pink Lively was buried and discovered that he’s at Norcross City Cemetery. It turns out I photographed his grave back in 2013 for Find a Grave.com! I also learned that Pink’s father, Milton, and Stephen McElroy donated an acre of land for Norcross City Cemetery to be established in 1873. That may be why Pink and several other Livelys are buried there.
In 1916, Norcross purchased an additional nine acres of the adjacent land from Milton’s descendants. Part of the land was used to expand the city cemetery from its original one-acre size, while part was used in later years to build an athletic field.
Death of a Union General
Four days after his stay at the Lively farmhouse, Gen. McPherson died in battle on July 22, 1864. He was only 36 and the highest ranking Union officer to be killed in the Civil War. His death site in East Atlanta Village is marked by a small monument. Unfortunately, it was vandalized in August 2020. Gen. McPherson is buried in McPherson Cemetery in Clyde, Ohio.
Charles Lively’s widow, Mary, died on March 3, 1864 and was brought back for burial at Lively Cemetery. An unnamed infant son of Milton and Maria died in 1865 and was also buried there. Their son Cicero, born in 1859, died on March 6, 1873 at age 13.
Milton’s wife, Maria, died on Sept. 5, 1878. Her grave marker features a hand holding a Bible aloft. The inscription reads: “”She was a tender mother here. And in her life the Lord did fear.”
According to the 1880 U.S. Census, Milton was living on a farm in neighboring Gwinnett County with his youngest son, Milton Jr., who was 13. Milton Sr. died on on Dec. 30, 1895 at age 75. His marker at Lively Cemetery includes the Masonic symbol. The inscription reads: “Upright and just he was in all his ways. A bright example in degenerate days.”
Milton’s sister, Judith Lively Poole Loyd, died on July 24, 1898. Her second husband, Jabez Loyd, is buried with his first wife in Prospect Methodist Cemetery in nearby Chamblee.
Judith’s son with Jabez, Charles Loyd, died suddenly on Dec. 30, 1911 in New Orleans. His remains were brought home for burial. This is the only time I’ve seen the Lively cemetery mentioned by name in a newspaper. His grave is not marked but there are a few uninscribed stones in the plot. His is likely one of them. His wife, Lou Mauldin Loyd, is buried in Atlanta’s Westview Cemetery.
According to Franklin Garrett’s necrology, Charles and Lou’s daughter, Rosa Lou Loyd, who only lived a few days in 1890, is also buried at Lively. Her marker may be the one that I saw that was face down. I did not want to possibly damage it by disturbing it.
I realize I’ve spent over 2,000 words on a cemetery containing about 17 people. That may seem like too many. But for a little piece of history sitting in a backyard burial ground, I think it was worth every one.
Thank you, June and Gary, for sharing this treasure with me.