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Centerville Cemetery in Houston County, Georgia

Seventeen years ago (holy cow!) I transcribed, chiefly by hand, inscriptions on all the tombstones found at Centerville Cemetery in Houston County, Georgia. This information was then uploaded to my website, where it has sat for all these years. In cleaning up my little corner of the 'net, I've decided to take down that particular page. The burials can be found in the FindAGrave database, so that information is still readily available at this time.

I'm creating a post in this space to share some history and highlights from the cemetery, essentially retaining some of the personal work of my choosing...

(About 2002 or Prior)

Where Centerville Cemetery Fit within the Town

Centerville Cemetery is located across from the First Baptist Church on Church Street.

According to Georgia Place-Names by Kenneth Krakow, "Mitchell F. Ethridge settled here and opened a store about 1885. The name derived from the fact that it was located halfway between Macon and Perry, as well as halfway between Byron and Wellston (Warner Robins). Since there was already a Centerville in Georgia, the name was changed for a while to HATTIE after the oldest Ethridge daughter..." Centerville wasn't incorporated as a city until 1958.

During one of my visits, I had an impromptu conversation with a local resident with knowledge of the history of the area. His words painted a picture of the early layout of the town. This will be especially so if you are able to visit the cemetery. The account is given from the perspective of standing in the cemetery and facing the First
Baptist Church.

The left side of the cemetery parking lot is where the wooden Hattie Baptist Church stood. Directly across the street was the brick school building. The First Baptist Church has kept this building intact. To the right of the school was a tin building for the schoolmaster. At one time, that position was held by a Mr. Hunt. Farther right, in the triangular area at the corner of Church Street and Houston Lake Road, is where a store stood. In this same general vicinity is where the cotton gin stood. The STAFFORD farm is where the Galleria Mall now stands (can be seen from the cemetery). If you turn around and face the cemetery, the land to the left is owned by the Silas M. Rape, Sr. family. Mr. Silas Rape is buried in this cemetery. The woods behind the cemetery was the sight of a lot of hunting 50+ years ago, I'm told. And further behind those woods was home to the BASSETT and GARVIN family farms. In fact, there is a Bassett Street and Garvin Drive in these locations.

Mr. and Mrs. M. S. Sullivan

Mark S. Sullivan was born 12 August 1859/1860 in Houston County, Georgia. He was a son of Mark/Allen Sullivan and Elizabeth Self. Young Mark married Mattie Lenora Joiner/Joyner 23 March 1880 in Crawford County, Georgia. She was born 5 March 1864 at Crawford County. Per her death certificate, Mattie was a daughter of Ausburn Joyner and Lindy Sullivan. Death occurred on 4 December 1923 at Wellston, Houston County. Cause was apoplexy. Mark died 20 November 1922 at Wellston of chronic Bright's disease.

An obituary for Mrs. M. S. Sullivan -

Macon Telegraph (Georgia)
Thursday, 6 December 1923 - pg. 2 [via GenealogyBank]


Mrs. Mattie L. Sullivan, 58, died at her home near Wellston, Ga., at 3 o'clock Tuesday afternoon. Mrs. Sulliva had been ill three weeks. She was a resident of Wellston the past forty years, moving there from Crawford County, where she was born and reared. She was the widow of M. S. Sullivan. Surviving are two sons and four daughters, Eddie and Arthur Sullivan, of Wellston; Mrs. H. A. Fields, of Byron; Mrs. O. O. Moore, of Macon; Mrs. O. Hoskins and Mrs. J. A. Akins, of Wellston. She was a member of the Baptist Church. Funeral services were held on yesterday afternoon at 2:30 o'clock at Hattie Baptist Church at Centerville, Rev. E. M. Clapp, pastor of the Avondale Baptist Church, officiating. Interment was in the church cemetery.
B. T. and Mary A. Stafford Gone, but Not Forgotten

Houston Home Journal (Perry, Georgia)
3 April 1913 - pg. 3 [via Georgia Historic Newspapers]
Mr. Ben Stafford Dead.

Mr. Benjamin T. Stafford, one of the most worthy citizens of Houston county, died at his home near La Villa, on the national highway, Monday, March 24th.

The burial was in the Hattie Cemetary [sic] Tuesday afternoon, attended by a large number of friends and relatives.

Benjamin T. Stafford was born in Twiggs county on Jnne [sic] 8th, 1844, and moved to this county while yet a boy.

Enlisted in one of the first companies that left this county, he became a soldier in the Confederate army during the 17th year of his life and served faithfully and with honor until the close of the war.

On September 10, 1868, he was married to Miss Mollie Leverett, daughter of the late Wiley Leverett, in the Upper 5th district.

Of that union there were eleven children, of whom nine are now living, all in Houston county except two, Wiley in Macon and William at Columbus.

There are fourteen grand-children.

Mr. Stafford served four years as Tax receiver, and declined renomination. The service he rendered was faithful and efficient.

From early manhood he was a member of the Primitive Baptist church, and his life was in accord with the faith he professed.

Unpretentious in deportment and speech, Ben Stafford was true to his convictions and faithful to every trust.

The 69 years of his life were indeed well-spent, and the faith of his friends is strong that he has been called to the eternal reward of the faithful and just.

For more than a year, he was in declining health, and for five months prior to his death he was confined to the house.

The bereaved ones have the sincere sympathy of his and their many friends.
Per Mollie's death certificate, her mother's maiden name was Susie Crowder. Chronic Bright's disease was the cause of Mollie's death on 8 July 1922.

Based mainly on census records, the nine children that survived to adulthood were the following [* denotes also buried at Centerville]:

- Wiley (b. abt 1871)
- William (b. abt 1873)
- John Taylor (b. 1875)*
- Mary (b. abt 1877)
- Sallie (b. 1880)*
- Susie (b. 1880)*
- Charles P. "Charlie" (b. abt 1882)*
- Deane (b. abt 1885)
- Joseph Palmer "Dock" (b. abt 1889)*

Mitchell F. & Fannie E. Etheridge Die Months Apart

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, Mitchell F. Etheridge was an early settler of Centerville, and it was his daughter Hattie who was the town's namesake for a time. Mr. Etheridge donated the land for the cemetery, school, and church. An obituary -

Macon Telegraph (Georgia)
Sunday, 2 April 1916 [via GenealogyBank]
Deaths and Funerals


M. F. Etheridge, aged 69 years, died yesterday morning at 7 o'clock at his home at Centerville, after a lingering illness.

Mr. Etheridge had been a resident of Centerville his entire life, and had been a representative of Houston county in the general assembly of Georgia. He was prominently known, being a merchant and planter.

Surviving Mr. Etheridge, besides his widow, are two sons, R. N. and J. P. Etheridge, of Jackson, four daughters, Mrs. W. G. Kemper, of Fort Valley; Mrs. O. K. Stembridge, of Centerville; Mrs. A. G. Rape and Mrs. E. H. Brantley, of Centerville.

Mr. Etheridge was a member of the Primitive Baptist church of Centerville, from where the funeral will be held this afternoon at 2 o'clock, conducted by Elder Herring. The interment will be made in the Centerville cemetery.
Eight months later, Mitchell was joined by wife Fannie.

Jackson Progress-Argus (Georgia)
8 December 1916 [via Georgia Historic Newspapers]

Prominent Houston County Woman Died Sunday Night

Friends of Mr. and Mrs. R. N. Etheridge and Mr. and Mrs. J. P. Etheridge sympathize with them deeply in the death of Mrs. Fannie Elizabeth Etheridge, which occurred Sunday night at her home in Centerville, Houston county. Mrs. Etheridge, who was 65 years of age, was a Miss Fannie Elizabeth Hardison before her marriage and was one of Houston county's most highly respected women. The death of her husband, Mr. M. F. Etheridge, occurred only a few months ago.

Mrs. Etheridge is survived by two sons, Messrs. R. H. and J. P. Etheridge, of Jackson; four daughters, Mrs. W. G. Kemper and Mrs. E. H. Brantley, of Fort Valley; Mrs. O. H. Stembridge and Mrs. A. G. Rape, of Centerville. Mrs. Etheridge was a member of the Primitive Baptist church and was loved by a large circle of friends.

The funeral was held at 11 o'clock Tuesday at Hattie church, Centerville, the services being conducted by Rev. J. T. Herin. Interment was in the cemetery at Centerville.

Mr. and Mrs. R. N. Etherdge, [sic] Mr. and Mrs. J. P. Etherdge [sic] attended the funeral from Jackson. All friends and acquaintances of the family sympathize with them in their bereavement.
About six years later, daughter Lena would become a widow for the second time with the loss of husband Oscar Huff Stembridge.

Macon Telegraph (Georgia)
Wednesday, 5 April 1922 - pg. 9 [via GenealogyBank]


Funeral services for Oscar H. Stembridge were held from Hattie church Tuesday morning at 11 o'clock. Rev. J. F. Cargile officiated, and interment was in Hattie Cemetery. Mr. Stembridge was a merchant of Centerville. He was 40 years of age. He leaves his wife and two daughters, Misses Sadie and Sarah Stembridge. Mrs. Stembridge was before her marriage Miss Lena Etheridge.
Lena died 16 June 1976 at the age of 101.

Robert F. Peters and Mustard Gas

Robert Franklin Peters served for two years during World War I as a Pvt 1Cl in Company D of the 2nd Division Ammunition Trains. At some point during that service, Robert was exposed to mustard gas. This likely contributed to his early demise.

Macon Telegraph (Georgia)
Tuesday, 17 March 1936 [via GenealogyBank]

Gassed, Wounded, Shellshocked Veteran, Had Been Under Treatment Seven Years

PINEHURST, Ga., March 16. -- The body of Robert F. Peters, World war veteran who died in Veterans' hospital, Atlanta, Saturday, was carried this morning to Centerville where services were held at 3 o'clock this afternoon in Centerville Baptist Church. Rev. J. A. Ivey, of Pinehurst, conducted the services and an escort of Dooly county veterans participated.

Mr. Peters was born Feb. 3, 1892, at Zebulon, Ga...He saw service overseas, participated in nine engagements and had been gassed, wounded and shellshocked...

Surviving are his wife, who was Miss Naomi Rape of Byron, Ga.; four children, Lillian, Robert, Jr., Roy and Herbert; three brothers, John T. Peters, East Point, Ga.; Joe E. Peters, Atlanta, and E. W. Peters, Lake Wales, Fla.; two sisters, Mrs. Susie Ellis of Williamson, Ga., and Mrs. Charlie Brown, of East Point, Ga.
Per his death certificate, Robert was occupied as a jeweler. Official cause of death was chronic Pulmonary Tuberculosis and severe Hyperthyroidism.

Naomi Rape Peters was more than ten years her husband's junior, yet never remarried. She died 17 July 1982.

You can search or browse all memorials within Centerville Cemetery at FindAGrave.


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