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From Redfiern & Redfearn to Redfern

I did a bit of a double-take while photographing a few tombstones at the Bethlehem Baptist Church graveyard in Warthen, Washington County, Georgia. I've only seen the "usual" spelling of REDFERN. Was this a mistake?

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John Redfiern was born 17 August 1827, likely in North Carolina, to Branson and Emeline "Milly" Redfearn. John married Mary P. Baker before 1860, and the couple had at least three children:

  • Minerva (b. abt Sept 1859)
  • John Robert (b. abt 1861-1862)
  • Martha "Mattie" (b. abt 1862-1868)

I found John and family in census records for 1860, 1870, 1880, and 1910. In three of the four takings, the surname was spelled Redfear/n. This might be a testament to how the family pronounced their name. 1910 was the only instance of the four where the spelling was Redfern.

John died after the taking of the 1910 census, in the month of September. His tombstone noted him to be "A good citizen, patriotic soldier and consistent friend." (John served with the 59th Georgia Infantry in 1862.) Mary died about four years later.

aredfernIt's not clear if all of John's siblings maintained the Redfiern/Redfearn spelling, however. His brother, William Andrew, was buried – in Mineral Springs Cemetery at Warthen – beneath a military tombstone bearing the surname Redfern.

And John's son J. R. – also buried at the Bethlehem Baptist graveyard – rests under a granite ledger marker inscribed with Redfern.




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The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?"

So I answered, "O Lord God, You know."

Again He said to me, "Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, 'O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!' Thus says the Lord God to these bones: 'Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live...'" (Ezekiel 37:1-5, NKJV)