30 March 2011

Photo Editor Playtime (Wordless Wednesday)

29 March 2011

A Kind Mother of Six Children (Tombstone Tuesday)

Mollie G.
Wife of Pennal Jackson
Daughter of M. L. & M. W. Sammon
Born Oct 12, 1858
Died Sept 15, 1888

And Little Dau. Mollie
Born Aug 10, 1888
Died Apr 16, 1889
Aged 8 Mos. & 6 Dys.

A faithful Christian and kind mother of six children.
"Be kind to my little children."

Fairview Presbyterian Church Cemetery
Lawrenceville, Gwinnett County, Georgia

Photo © 2010/1 S. Lincecum

28 March 2011

Larry J. Williams (Military Monday)

Larry Jean Williams
US Marine Corps
World War II
Aug 6, 1916 ~ Oct 18, 1996

Fairview Presbyterian Church Cemetery
Lawrenceville, Gwinnett County, Georgia

Photo © 2010/1 S. Lincecum

Census records suggest Larry was a son of Roland R. and Minnie E. Williams, also buried at Fairview Presbyterian.

23 March 2011

Symbolism of Wheat on a Tombstone (Wisdom Wednesday)

"A sheaf of wheat on a tombstone is often used to denote someone who has lived a long and fruitful life of more than seventy years...It denotes immortality and resurrection because of its use as a harvested grain...A sheaf of wheat is a popular Masonic emblem as well." - Douglas Keister in Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography.

Photos © 2011 S. Lincecum. Taken at Evergreen Cemetery in Perry, Houston County, Georgia. Zinc marker memorializes H. B. Felder (1828-1878), son of Samuel and Ann Felder.

22 March 2011

Father and Son Apply for Presidential Pardons (Tombstone Tuesday)

The FELDER family of Perry, Georgia seems to have been pretty prominent in their time. There are two family plots side-by-side in Evergreen Cemetery that contain the remains of some of the family members. The patriarch of the family is Samuel Felder of South Carolina. He was born 24 November 1796 and died 3 October 1867. Samuel was married to Ann, born 25 August 1803 and died 8 September 1890. Also buried nearby is Samuel's son Henry B. (1828 - 1878).

The next plot full of ledger markers with exception of one is dedicated to Edward Lewis Felder (1826 - 1872) and his family. Edward was a son of Samuel and Ann Felder. His first wife was Ada, born 27 June 1831 and died 25 May 1858. Edward later married Charlotte "Lottie" Swift, born 11 April 1841 and died 5 January 1888. Four of Edward's children were laid to rest in this plot: Lucy (1871-1961), Thomas S. (1867-1941), Kate (1863-1940), and Edward Jr. (1856-1893).

When poking around about the Felders, I found Confederate Applications for Presidential Pardon for both Samuel Felder and his son Edward.  Edward basically stated he was unaware the delegates he elected to the State conventions would go for secession.  He expected other means to be tried.

Samuel was a little more involved with the "rebellion." Not only did he approve secession, but he also provided for the Confederate Army in the form of money and supplies.  He did state, however, that he believed the politicians when they initially said that secession would be a peaceful solution to the "strife" between the North and South regarding the "slavery question."

Neither man stated he believed slavery was wrong at any time.  In fact, both were slave owners.  In the 1860 Houston County, GA federal census, Edward owned 30 slaves.  In the same census, Samuel Felder was listed as the owner of 20 slaves with a combined real and personal estate value of $107,152.  While these were not the largest or wealthiest, they seemed to do just fine for themselves.

Both statements had sounds of a "form letter," but there were a few subtle differences. Both described secession as a "great mistake." Edward stated the following:  "Your Petitioner has informed his former slaves that they are free, and made a fair and liberal contract with them, which has been approved by the Commandant of this post. and realizes and acknowledges the fact, that slavery is forever extinguished." Samuel simply stated, "I recognize the fact that slavery is dead & cannot be revived."

Both men had to take and sign to the Amnesty Oath. I don't know if it was a bitter pill to swallow for either man. But the fact they lost a son and brother in the war might have made it tougher. Samuel Felder, Jr. enlisted and fought with Company C, Georgia 6th Infantry Regiment. He died from wounds 1 June 1862, most likely in Virginia during the Battle of Seven Pines.

I transcribed both Samuel's and Edward's application. You may read them here and here, respectively.

18 March 2011

Absolutely and Irretrievably Lost

My Facebook friend, Sid Graves of CemeteryPrints, just posted this quote less than an hour ago. It sums up "why I do what I do" so well. Coincidentally, he paired the quote with an image of his that is almost exactly like one I took some years ago at Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, GA:

Photo © S. Lincecum
The deep pain that is felt at the death of every friendly soul arises from the feeling that there is in every individual something which is inexpressible, peculiar to him alone, and is, therefore, absolutely and irretrievably lost. ~ Arthur Schopenhauer

The goal of this Southern Graves blog is to preserve that inexpressible something found with every tombstone and the life for which it stands.

17 March 2011

Emalee's Time - Is That a Pocket Watch I See?

Depicting the passage of time on a tombstone is a common theme. Rosebuds (Gather ye Rose-buds while ye may), Father Time, and the much more common hourglass (sometimes seen with wings) are several symbols from which to choose if you want to express the connection of rapidly passing time with death. But a pocket watch was a first for me. At least that's what it looks like to me atop Emalee Roberts' stone. What do you think?

Emalee Roberts
Born Nov 8, 1876
Died Nov 8, 1882

"A precious one from us has gone,
A voice we loved is stilled.
A place is vacant in our home,
Which never can be filled."

Fairview Presbyterian Church Cemetery
Lawrenceville, Gwinnett County, Georgia

According to the 1880 U.S. Federal Census for Gwinnett County, GA, "Emma L." is the daughter of William B. and Margaret Roberts.

Photos © 2010/1 S. Lincecum

15 March 2011

To the Asylum Goes the Murderess Julia Force (Tombstone Tuesday)

Ever read about someone in a magazine and feel the need to visit their burial place? Yep, me too. Such was the case with Julia Force. I read about her in the Summer 2010 edition of Georgia Backroads magazine. A great article by Gaynie G. Guy and Hugh T. Harrington entitled "Julia Force: Victorian Murderess" told of a crime that had the whole nation following along to find out Julia's fate.

In February 1893, Julia Force shot and killed her two sisters, Florence and Minnie, in Atlanta, GA. She was subsequently tried for murder. Julia was not convicted, however, by reason of insanity. She spent the rest of her life in the Georgia Lunatic Asylum located at Milledgeville, GA, where she died 30 March 1916. As to whether or not Julia was truly insane is debatable.

During her time at Milledgeville, Julia befriended a matron of the women's building named Johnanna Mitchell Darnell. ("Sent to Milledgeville," maybe with a raised eyebrow, is all anyone has to say around here, and the meaning is crystal clear, even to this day.) Mrs. Darnell was a granddaughter of former Georgia governor David B. Mitchell. She arranged for herself and Julia to be buried upon their respective deaths in Governor Mitchell's plot at Memory Hill Cemetery in Milledgeville.

Though the slab is unmarked, it is easy to pick out Julia's grave. She is closest to the base of the magnolia tree in the Mitchell lot. Her grave is also now marked by a number 42. This is because she is mentioned in Memory Hill's walking tour brochure as a point of interest.

I wonder if Governor Mitchell could ever have imagined that a murderess would be laid to rest less than six feet from his remains almost 80 years after his death.

Some additional notes:

· If you are interested in learning more about the saga of Julia Force, please follow along a series of posts containing transcriptions of newspaper articles of the time at the Your Peachy Past blog. I posted the first entry this morning.

· Central State Hospital (the name it is currently known by) in Milledgeville, Georgia was founded in 1842. As briefly touched upon, it is still active and a well-known facility to this day.

· Memory Hill Cemetery has a fabulous online presence. You can search their database of burials and download the walking tour brochure.

· Lastly, Julia's murdered sisters were laid to rest in Oakland Cemetery of Atlanta.

09 March 2011

A Ruined Necropolis: Macon's Old City Cemetery (Wordy Wednesday)

The Old City Cemetery in Macon, Georgia has grabbed my attention once again. I think my feelings of sadness and anger are what keep bringing me back, though no one who may be considered responsible for its ruination is even remotely around for me to direct those feelings towards. Bibb County, GA was established in 1822, and the city of Macon, the county seat, was chartered in 1823. The Old City Cemetery was laid out soon after, being used between the years of (roughly) 1825 and 1840. As you might imagine, the pioneers, founders, and builders of Macon were interred there. I've been reading old newspaper articles about the cemetery and have seen numbers as high as 700 regarding interments. I can document less than 60 burials, and there are even fewer than that with visible markers.

In a February 1891 article in the Macon Telegraph, a sad story of the then-current state of the cemetery was told.
The morning sun never touches those long forgotten graves, save where the beaten path has laid the long grass and undergrowth. The tombs marked with stones, graved with the loved one's name, are the haunt of the hunted thief, the loafer and the tramp. The wild creepers have twined themselves around the broken shaft and they, too, hang dead and swaying in the winter wind. It is a wilderness, a ruined necropolis, the habitation only of dogs and vermin, the waste land in the slums of a city.
At the time of the article, though, it seemed the forgotten cemetery was going to be reinvented at another site. Reported in the same space: "...it has been ordained by the city council that the 'old cemetery' shall be a cemetery no longer, but that its contents shall be removed. The crumbled bones and grinning skulls that laugh at living men are to be removed and placed in the new cemetery of Rose Hill."

Unfortunately, soon after the city council's decision, an injunction was issued disallowing the city the ability to remove any of the remains. Subsequent articles in the years of 1893, 1907, and 1919 suggest a removal of remains never took place. That is, save one mention. Oddly enough, it is in an article dated 1881. This, of course, is about ten years before the city council decision. From the Georgia Weekly Telegraph, Journal & Messenger (describing Rose Hill Cemetery): "This celebrated burial place was laid out in 1840, and to it were transferred most of the remains then interred in the old cemetery just below the city."

Though I do know there were some re-interments when the new Rose Hill Cemetery opened, I believe what this article is referring to is the transferring of the Confederate dead who died in the Macon hospital during the Civil War from the old city cemetery to Rose Hill. There were hundreds of such soldiers moved in the 1870's.

At the very least, it is difficult to say exactly how many burials are still in the Old City Cemetery, but I wager it is more than meets the eye. Another 1891 article offers this conjecture: "There are many thus, both male and female, whose bones lie in that neglected graveyard. The record book, on which was entered every burial, has long ago been lost or destroyed. It is estimated that there are more than one hundred bodies of the white population interred there whose graves cannot be identified."

All of these research findings (or lack thereof) have prompted me to set up a separate page on the Southern Graves website for Macon's Old City Cemetery. I have transcribed old news articles and compiled a listing of close to 60 documented burials, also linking to several transcribed obituaries.

If you have information about the cemetery, especially any additional burials (even those removed to Rose Hill), I hope you will consider sharing by either commenting here or emailing me. Addresses are located in the footer of this page.

07 March 2011

The Citizens Consider this Afflictive Dispensation as a Public Calamity (or, Elisha Hammond's Obituary & Amanuensis Monday)

I enjoy transcribing early 19th century obituaries. The language of the time is almost lyrical. I do dislike the run-on sentences, though!

The subject of this obituary is Mr. Elisha Hammond, a known educator in South Carolina and Georgia. He was also the father of James Henry Hammond, governor of South Carolina 1842-1844. According to an 1893 newspaper article, Mr. Hammond was buried in Macon's Old City Cemetery upon his death. His interment is mentioned again in an article from 1907. However, it seems any marker he had is not to be found today. Unless it is one of the few still standing that are completely illegible. The following photo shows the current cemetery landscape. You would never guess there were possibly as many as 700 burials there.

Macon Telegraph (Georgia)
11 July 1829
Departed this life, on Thursday the 9th instant, after a painful illness of seven days, Mr. ELISHA HAMMOND superintendent of the Macon Academy, in the 53d year of his age.

Mr. Hammond was born in Massachusetts, in the year 1776, and after receiving a collegiate education at Dartmouth College, he emigrated to South Carolina, where he was called to take charge of the Mount Bethel Academy; which from a state of prostration, he soon raised to notoriety and eminence. From thence he was called to the honorable station of professor of languages in the South Carolina college; and from his urbane and conciliating deportment, secured the esteem, the respect of all with whom he was connected. -- From Carolina he removed to Georgia, and after a short time spent in Augusta, accepted an invitation to take charge of the Macon Academy; and in June 1828 became, and continued to the period of his death, a citizen of this place. As was the case at Mount Bethel, Mr. Hammond assumed the management of the institution under circumstances altogether discouraging. With but a few scholars, and those generally very youthful, he entered an institution the fame of which had never extended beyond the precints of its own immediate neighbourhood; but he brought with him that experience and those habits of patient industry, which require only time to be known, in order to be appreciated and rewarded; -- and for after one short year devoted to these his useful labors, the citizens of Macon enjoyed the cheering prospect of beholding this (heretofore neglected) institution assume a position at once gratifying to them, and highly honorable to himself.

In private life, Mr. Hammond from his dignified and amiable deportment, had secured to himself a circle of friends, whose expressions of bereavement bear ample, and undoubted testimony to the esteem in which while living he was held; and that though dead he will long be remembered. Taken away in the midst of his usefulness, Mr. Hammond has left a widow, and four children to mourn his irreparable loss; -- but if the sympathy of a community can afford consolation in such extreme affliction, their tears will soon be dried, for the citizens of Macon consider this afflictive dispensation as a public calamity.

Farewell! my friend; -- when I beheld thy dying eyes (intelligent even in death,) upraised to Heaven, and after the power of utterance had left thy palsied tongue; methought thy spirit did commune with those ethereal messengers commissioned by that Saviour (into whose merits while living you so earnestly inquired) to convey your disembodied spirit to mansions of eternal rest. Farewell!

01 March 2011

Bank Failure Results in a Man Charged with Murder. Sound familiar? (Tombstone Tuesday)

While the headline might seem familiar, this incident actually happened more than 175 years ago. -- Thomas Ellis was born about 1798.  His "untimely exit" came way too soon, about 34 years later, and under some interesting circumstances. His obituary ran in the Georgia Telegraph, Macon, on Wednesday, 10 October 1832:
Awful Catastrophe! -- Early on Wednesday morning last, in a rencontre with Henry Byrom, Mr. Thomas M. Ellis, long known as one of the most industrious and enterprising men in Macon, received a pistol ball in his abdomen, of which he died in about three hours. This afflicting occurrence has thrown a gloom over the whole town. Mr. Ellis was greatly respected for his moral virtues, his uprightness of conduct, his enterprising genius, and his untiring industry. One of the first settlers of Macon, the town owes much to him for its rapid growth and unprecedented prosperity. What Girard died for Philadelphia, Mr. Ellis was doing for Macon. He pried into every department of industry; and in every one was his influence felt.

Of his unfortunate connexion with the Macon Bank, (which was believed to be the occasion of the rencontre,) though we have for ourselves full faith in the innocence and integrity of Mr. Ellis, we are not prepared to satisfy the public. We know that he was preparing a full development of his relation with that institution; and we have no doubt, had he lived, that his innocence would have been fully established.

Mr. E. was a native of Philadelphia, and was about 34 years old. He was a respected member of the Baptist Church; a Vice President of the Georgia Agricultural Society; and a member of several other religious and charitable associations. He has left a bereaved widow, two helpless orphans, and a long train of relations and friends to mourn his untimely exit.

Byrom surrendered himself to the civil authority and has been bound over to answer his appearance at court.
A few earlier newspaper articles show that a Mr. Robert W. Fort was President of the Bank of Macon. This institution failed, and many of the public held him responsible. Thomas Ellis publicly backed Mr. Fort. Maybe this angered some folks.  It seems Mr. Byrom thought Mr. Ellis was connected to the failure somehow, but I'm not sure why this agitated Byrom so.

In the latter part of November 1832, less than two months after the death of Mr. Ellis, Henry Byrom was charged and tried for his murder. The testimonies of the courtroom drama were retold in the Georgia Telegraph: "The unfortunate rencontre of the defendant in this case with Thomas M. Ellis, in the streets of Macon on the 3d October last, which resulted in the lamented death of the latter, having produced a good deal of excitement in this community, we annex the following summary of the trial, which took place in this town last week, before his honor Judge Strong..."

First up for the prosecution were John Ellis and William Ellis, brothers of the deceased. They each described the scene after "hearing the report of pistols." Both found their brother on the ground, raised up on one elbow, on the street in front of his home (on Walnut street in Macon). Henry Byrom was standing near him, and Thomas supposedly said to Byrom, "Draw a pistol on me, will you?"

In the cross examination of William Ellis, he could not recall what other witnesses were present or whether or not they were white. John Ellis admitted his brother Thomas was armed. Other individuals were heard to have said Thomas Ellis was a "fighting man" and a "rascal."

Witnesses for the defendant claim Thomas Ellis had "a pistol drawn on" Byrom.

"...The trial consumed the best part of two days, The case was submitted to the jury about 11 o'clock P.M. on Thursday, who, after being absent about half an hour, returned with a verdict of Not Guilty.

Mr. Ellis was laid to rest in Macon's Old City Cemetery. His bricked box tomb is one of the few still standing.

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