Ancestral interest in the Reeves and Joneses of Butts and Troup Counties, Georgia, respectively. Progeny also related to the Blackwoods and Fords, recently of Talladega County, Alabama.
Talladega County was formed after the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and Treaty of Cusseta in 1832. Compilers of published county cemetery records, Carolyn Lane Luttrell and Joseph W. & Francis S. Upchurch, observed decades ago that stones had already "...disappeared through erosion of time, vandalism, and bulldozers." As lamented of the Marble Springs Presbyterian Church Cemetery site in 1959 by E. Grace Jemison in her "Historic Tales of Talladega": "There are now only a few people who have so much as a memory of the once sacred spot".
Antebellum planters and Victorian era (1837-1901) farmers often had burial plots upon their own land. Consecrated ground of pioneer churches lay fallow after congregations moved. Alabama law, Act 2007-4008, allows access to grave sites by relatives and researchers who provide reasonable notice to property owners. Land owners normally accommodate polite requests to photograph gravestones without an impolite citation of law. State law stipulates any person who defaces or removes a gravestone has committed a misdemeanor, which has a one year statute of limitation. Disturbance of buried remains without a permit is a felony. The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 (NAGPRA) addresses remains and cultural items on federal land or in institutions receiving federal funds.
Early headstones of marble, state rock of Alabama, may bear a quarry name such as Herd Brothers and/or Richard Miller, first quarriers in the county. In 1845 Dr. Edward Gantt purchased the Sylacauga quarry subsequently named after him from John Herd. A 4' by 2' block of Gantt Quarry marble, marked "J. M. N. B. Nix & Co., Wetumpka, Ala.", was placed in the Washington Monument in Washington D.C. in 1851. An "A. Herd & Bros." bill from 1855 reflects the cost of a 6 1/2' by 3' marble slab to have been $35, with clasped hands sculpted for $5 and letters cut at 5 cents apiece, for a total cost of $56.10 due within a year. Historian Kenneth M. Stampp recounted the annual wage of a textile worker in the South during 1860 to have only been $145. After the death of the eldest Herd brother, George, in 1855 their business in Winterboro went to his partner, H. P. Oden. Captain Henry Oden died at the Siege of Vicksburg in 1863. Reconstruction era (1863-1877) marble markers with quarry marks are few, some "J. A. Bergin, Talladega, Ala." and "J. T. Nix & Co., Hopkinsville, Ky."
African-American headstones from the Victorian era are rarely encountered, less than a dozen at the oldest public cemeteries, Oakhill and Westview, in the city of Talladega. Vermont marble headstones were provided from 1914 thru 1931 to members of the Mosaic Templars of America (MTA), a black fraternal organization with members in half the states of the nation. Many of these MTA members, formed in local "Chambers", had endured slavery and witnessed emancipation. Chamber stones are approximately 27" in height and 16" in width, with a rounded and forward sloping top. "M","T","A" and "3V's", spaced within crossed shepherd staffs and encircled, is cut in relief upon the upper face of the stones. Shepherd staffs symbolized the biblical Exodus out of bondage led by Moses and Aaron, with "3V's" for the Latin phrase of "Veni, Vedi, Veci"; I Came, I Saw, I Conquered.
Those insured from 1890 thru 1930 by the Woodmen of the World (WOW) Life Insurance Society of Omaha, Nebraska, received marble tree stump markers which were normally 4'-5' in height. Initially free to WOW policy holders, by 1900 a $100 rider was required to cover their expense. These sculpted stones were discontinued during the Great Depression due to their cost. The monuments are also seen with, or as, stacked cut logs. The WOW logo, ivy, and symbolic axes and wedges were carved onto the stone trees. Scrolls with the name of the deceased are often depicted, suspended on ropes or attached to the trees, and "Dum Tacet Clamet"; Though Silent, He Speaks.
Sandstone from local quarries, such as at S. M. Jemison's farm on Kelly Creek, was used for headstones and obelisks from 1845 to 1875. These "mustard colored" stone blocks, one inscribed "1862", were used to build the wall enclosing Sunnyside, aka "Jemison", Cemetery. Fieldstone and flagstone markers, some with etched names, are in rural and urban plots. Cast zinc, "white bronze", and iron markers were used in the late Victorian era. Cast cement slabs, headstones, and curbing have been commonly used since the early 20th Century. Whitewashing of the cement produced ersatz marble.
Cenotaphs are memorials in honor of deceased who lie elsewhere, such as the fourteen roadside Veterans Affairs (VA) headstones at the Oden-Bledsoe-Kelly plantation house or the eighty VA stones at Ft. Williams Military Memorial Park. The April-May 1926 edition of "Arrow Points" noted the chartering of the Fort Williams Memorial Association; "... to do honor to the Tennesseans long buried at old Ft. Williams on the Coosa". That was a dozen years after the construction of Lay Dam downriver of the fort and its "burial pits arranged in rows." An inscribed marble boulder and VA headstones for eighty soldiers were placed at the site during 1932-1937. In 1957, however, Rev. Randolph F. Blackford reported in "Fascinating Talladega County" that the actual burials were covered in backwaters of the dam. Nevertheless, the site was added to the Alabama Register of Landmarks in 1976. Joseph and Francis Upchurch noted the site lacked burials in their cemetery compilation published in 1989. In 2006 land developers said the cemetery was devoid of any graves and an "eyesore". Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) scans followed by trenching failed to disclose bones beneath the stones. Marble boulder and headstones were then relocated to allow for private estates with docks on Lay Lake.
Skeletal remains of soldiers do actually lie beneath the "Battle of Talladega" (aka "Jackson Pyramid") monument at Oak Hill Cemetery. Half the remains of a score of Tennessee volunteers slain were recovered from their burial pit by the Andrew Jackson Chapter of the DAR and reinterred there in 1900. The sixty-four "Unknown Confederate Soldier" VA headstones in two parallel rows at Oak Hill also mark the burial places of soldiers, although they weren't unknown at the time of their deaths. Soldiers who died in the local hospital or conscript camp were buried with wooden markers identifying them, but the grave markers deteriorated in time until those beneath were "Known but to God".
An in-the-ground interment, marked or otherwise, is no longer the cultural norm in our society. Data from the National Funeral Directors Association reflects the cremation rate rose from 3.5% to 43% during the past fifty years, with almost 20% of Alabamians in 2012 having elected "ashes to ashes".
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Not marble, nor the gilded monuments Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme; But you shall shine more bright in these contents Than unswept stone, besmear'd with sluttish time.
Walker Reynolds I am very interested in the portrait you posted of Major Walker Reynolds. He is my great great grandfather. My family has two other portraits of the Reynolds family, and I believe they were done by the same artist at the same time. Could you tell me more about this portrait?
Sunnyside Cemetery Hi, Mike, I have always known the cemetery where my relatives (McElhenney) are buried as the Jemison Cemetery, but could not find it in Find A Grave, so I took it upon myself to document, not only my relatives, but all I could find there. Later, I found the connection to Sunnyside Cemetery as being one in the same. I noted the connection in my Jemison Cemetery heading page so others could go there to find more information that I wasn't able to give. I appreciate the heads up and hope no one is offended at my attempt to add information for others to see. Sincerely, Rebecca Martin
Mary Hendrick Thank you Mike, I didn't realize there was already a picture until I had sent it.
The Stringer House at 203 Margaret Street was built for Roland Lee Stringer, my grandfather. We sold it to Bliss/Waller and they are only the second owners. I have noticed some pictures of homes on the find a grave site. The other is the McMillan Home on McMillan Street which belonged to James White McMillan and wife, Laura Anne Hendrick, I think they were the second owners. and they were my great grandparents. Mary Lurena McMillan was my grandmother and the only grandparent I knew. I lived in the Stringer home during WW11 with my mother, Frances Louise Stringer Bennett and sister, Margaret Bennett-Cianciola. Talladega and the Ritz Theater where I went many times during my childhood are fond memories of mine along with other people I knew. My dad, Archibald Bennett was in the Army and served overseas and he was in WW1 as he was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1896 and came to America in 1925. Thanks for all your work and contributions, Frances Bennett Maddox
Mary Russell To answer your question about the photo for the grave of Mary Russell. My wife and I spent about a week in Alabama (about 25 years ago when we lived in Texas)going to as many cemeteries as we could find in Talladega and Dallas Counties. We used the Upchurch book and one for the Dallas County cemeteries as a guide. We did the best we could at the time but have since found many more family members that we missed. We now live in California and aren't able to travel much. We recently came across some of the photos we took and added them to the Find-A-Grave Memorials. Regards - John
Edgar Heacock #159032173 Mike, again I wish to thank you not only for the transfers of my Heacock family tree, but for placing them on the internet. I am truly grateful for websites like Find-a-Grave, I joined it early on, and actually would duplicate my efforts of placing my family on-line with multiple websites back then, not knowing which one would survive. Find A Grave has been excellent. If you know of any other Heacocks, please transfer, and I'll find out about them and offer each a history of their lives.
I have transferred Edgar to Riser Family Cemetery as you suggested below. He had been at Mt Zion.
Thanks so much, Doni 47024310
I didn't move his memorial to the Riser Family Cemetery before transferring it, but he is indeed interred there-as opposed to " Riser's Chapel Old Cemetery" as the cemetery compilation had him listed.
Heacock Mike, would you please consider transferring me the children, Dr Joseph & George of Julia & John Heacock. I have a lot of history on both of them I would like to share.
Thanks so much, Doni 47024310
RE: Julia A Riser You're welcome, an unforeseen benefit of doing the three cemeteries identified in a 1990 county cemetery compilation as all being at that location across from Mt. Zion CME Church. The compilation only mentioned two other Heacocks, both infant children of Dr. Heacock whose memorials I have linked to his.
The cemetery compilation is organized as an alphabetical index of cemeteries, but has a surname glossary so if you're looking for someone in particular let me know and I'll see if there listed. Good luck in the quest !