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Thomas J. Saunders Family at Indian Springs State Park Cemetery

The original acreage of Indian Springs State Park was "acquired" from the Creek Native American tribe in 1825, and has operated as a park ever since.

My one and only visit to a cemetery located within the boundaries of Indian Springs State Park at Butts County, Georgia was back in September 2007. More than a decade ago, there was a ton of overgrowth, broken tombstones, stones knocked off their bases, crumbling surrounding structures, and general disrepair. Rumor has it, the condition of the cemetery only worsened.

An article in the Jackson Progress-Argus (Georgia) dated 25 March 2014 stated two organizations -- the Friends of Indian Springs State Park and the Butts County Genealogical Society -- were working together to begin restoration of the cemetery. Following are two images captured for Google street view two years later in 2016:



These images, as well as another article from another year later (2017), suggest progress is slow. I know it's thankless work to a large extent, but I hope the groups involved see it to completion.

Family of Thomas J. Saunders at Indian Springs State Park Cemetery

Thomas J. Saunders was born 4 July 1809, likely in North Carolina, and later married Elizabeth Patterson 14 June 1838 in Butts County, Georgia. The couple, based on census records and tombstones, appear to have had ten children. In addition to Thomas and Elizabeth, seven of those children are memorialized in the family lot at the cemetery of Indian Springs State Park.

One stone in the lot was, at one time, topped with an obelisk bearing a carving of an anchor of hope on one side and a cross with an intertwining vine of roses with buds on the other.


The base was still standing in 2007, and it bore inscriptions on all four sides:

Mary Catherine Saunders
Born Dec 7th, 1848
Died Jan 22nd, 1857


Ann Eliza Saunders
Born Apr 3rd, 1851
Died Dec 26, 1856


Sarah Saunders
Born Aug 11th, 1856
Died Dec 27th, 1856


[Notice Thomas and Elizabeth lost three daughters over the span of just 27 days. Caused by a wintertime sickness of pneumonia or influenza, perhaps.]

Mrs. Elizabeth B.
Wife of T. J. Saunders
And daughter of Job C. Patterson
Born Apr 1st, 1821
Died Aug 2nd, 1884
"Your toils are past your work is done,
And you are fully blest.
You fought the fight the victory won,
And entered into rest."


I was able to find an obituary for Mrs. Saunders in the 13 August 1884 Macon Telegraph (Georgia):
OBITUARY.
Departed this life, at Indian Spring, Ga., on Saturday, 2d day of August, after a long and painful illness, Mrs. Elizabeth Saunders, the faithful wife of Mr. T. J. Saunders, aged sixty-three years and four months.

Mrs. Saunders was the daughter of the late Job Patterson, of Alabama, from whom she inherited, eminently, a character of rare worth. In the sacred relation of wife and mother her crowning virtues found their true sphere. She was one of those noble women of her day who recognized the true mission of her life, in devotion to all the practical duties of home. In this sacred precinct she labored with heroic energy and self-sacrifice, through long years of acute physical suffering.

During her last days on earth her body was comparatively free from pain, and she talked calmly and quietly to each member of her family, leaving with them loving and practical lessons of life and death. Till her last moments she fully retained her mental faculties, and, with a "heart full of love for all mankind," she was resigned to her Master's call. If the best medical skill of the land, administered by the tender hand of a noble and only son, the watchful devotion of husband and daughters could stay the angel of death, then our friend would be with us still, for surely nothing was wanting that generous love could supply.

Words can never express the desolation that the heart feels for such a bereavement. A mother's place can never be supplied. God, and time, alone, can give us strength to endure life, and see the silver light to the cloud that has darkened life.
The last two sides of this family tombstone were for the men and boys:

Job C. Saunders
Born Feb 8th, 1842
Died Oct 25th, 1864
Buried Selma, Ala.


[Job was a member of Company A, 30th Regiment, Georgia Infantry. I do not know the cause of his death, however.]

James A. Saunders
Born Sept 20th, 1845
Died Dec 11th, 1845


Thomas J. Saunders
Born July 4, 1809
Died Feb 24, 1900

Two more children of Thomas Saunders and Elizabeth Patterson have tombstones in this family lot. First is Troy Simon Saunders, M.D. (1844-1891). He was the "noble and only son" mentioned in Elizabeth's obituary, and his tall obelisk was intact at the time of my visit.


Finally, there's Virginia "Jennie" Saunders (1846-1911). She and husband W. A. Elder (1845-1924) rest there as well.


Based on census records alone, other possible children of Thomas Saunders and Elizabeth Patterson were:

· Cornelius J. (b. abt 1835): Not sure about him. Only in 1850 census; possibly deceased by 1860. Why not named on stone?

· Susan P. (b. 1851-1854): Married Isaac Slaughter in Butts County.

· Allie T. (b. abt 1858): aka "Lula?"

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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)