The following was reported in the Eufaula Tribune,
Sunday July 9, 2000. It
was written by Ann S. Smith, Tribune associate editor. Due to
length of the
article, I will present it in two or three installations.
"Cemeteries tell of famous and forgotten"
Some are marked by small, humble piles of field
stones. Others have
simple boards of heart pine, the only decoration being a small circle
cut into the top of the small board. Others are mere sunken places
They are the graves of pioneers, settlers, farmers
and slaves who toiled
in the hot summer sun and endured winter in crude cabins or, later,
Barbour County is filled with hundreds of graves that
yield no clues
about the lives of the people who were buried in family plots and early
church cemeteries that do bear witness to the early settlers.
Some have wrought iron fences around plots of the
families. They are in areas of the county that are today remote,
communities of several hundred people once lived. In some of the
later generations have placed markers.
On a hot June afternoon, local history buff
Margaret Clayton Russell
stands in the midst of a section of Mt. Serene Cemetery, in a
off the Clayton Highway. The straight pine boards on some of the
graves offer mute testimony to the lives of "simple farmers"
laments, "lived, died and are forgotten."
Descendants have fenced in and marked some of the
graves at Mt. Serene,
where the markers placed in modern times on graves of pioneers John and
L. Stewart tell us they were born in 1770 and 1777. But Russell
of unmarked graves are scattered throughout the nearby woods.
Traveling on down to the old White Oak area,
where a depot once stood to
accommodate rail traffic, Russell says we will have to climb up a
bank" to find the family burial ground of one of Barbour County's
pioneers, Green Beauchamp.
Along the way, abandoned sharecropper houses are
lonely reminders of
those who didn't live in grand plantation houses or mansions in Eufaula
Beauchamp, whose Chronicles offer a glimpse into
pioneer days in Barbour
County, came into the frontier about 1818, from Ft. Gaines, GA., Russell
informs her companion on the "cemetery field trip."
Suddenly she slows down on the isolated dirt road,
discarded beer cans are the only sign of civilization. She backs
to the side of the road.
After climbing up the embankment and walking a few
yards into the woods,
she finds the small Beauchamp family cemetery, where it appears the few
marble markers have recently been disturbed.
"We need to do something about this," she
comments, pointing out
gravesite of William R. Beauchamp, brother of Green Beauchamp.
"He and his wife had seven or eight children who
were raised by Green
Beauchamp and his wife after their parents died." she says.
The cemetery markers document the short lives of many
before the days of
William R. Beauchamp, who died at age 18, and Asbury Beauchamp, who
only eight years. "Marie Godfrey searched for years for Green
grave, but she never was sure which one it was," Russell says.
to a crude semi-circle of stones around a sunken area about the size of
casket, she says she believes that is the final resting place of the
pioneer who was only 17 years old when he came to the Creek country in
Russell says Green Beauchamp was probably the last
person buried in the
old cemetery. In "Backtracking in Barbour County." Anne
writes that after Beauchamp's death, (1883) his wife, Caroline, who had
children, left the settlement
2nd and final installation of article by Ann Smith, from
the Eufaula Tribune,
Sunday, July 9, 2000.
On a down the dirt road, (this is actually on the
paved section, Co. Rd.
79), a well maintained, (this is also questionable), Evans family
catches Russell's eye. "All of these cemeteries were
inventoried by Marie
Godfrey before she died," Russell says, as she approaches the
Cemetery near Old Batesville.
"There were a lot of people with money up in
here," Russell says, and "a
lot of people from Ft. Browder, where a block house was built for
against the Indians. There were probably 400 or 500 people
"There was an academy here, for the children of
the plantation owners,"
she says. A marker erected on Highway 82 by the Historic
Commission tells the story of the Providence settlement, founded after
Rev. J.W. Norton and his wife migrated here from South
family and a wagon train of followers." In 1835 he
Providence Methodist Church in the Old Batesville area. "He
was a real
pioneer," Russell says.
The old Providence Cemetery is one of the better kept
hundreds of old rural cemeteries. Iron fences surround several of
plots, and small square markers implanted in recent years mark dozens of
unidentified graves. Again, the graves of infants and children are
reminders of a hard life in a world without the miracle of today's
Thornton family cemetery
But perhaps the most intriquing-and saddest-stop on
trip" is at the remote Thornton family cemetery, on property owned
Russell's father, the late Lee Clayton. Driving along Lee Clayton
Russell looks for a slight trench in the roadside embankment.
passes it, but readily spots it after turning around.
Well off the road, on a hillside that offers a view
all the way back to
Eufaula during the winter months, is a burial ground Russell says
several hundred graves.
It began as the Thornton plantation family cemetery.
Years ago, a trench
was dug around the Thornton family graves, and today one large marker
the lives of three family members. But surrounding the family
far back into the woods, is evidence of countless unmarked graves.
Russell quickly spots one of the simple pine markers,
a broken kerosene
lamp and a broken pitcher. She has written an account of her
the cemetery in 1987, when she and her father discovered numerous
places there by families of the hundreds of blacks who were buried there
after the Thorntons abandoned the area. She says it was a common
old black cemeteries in this part of the south to find the fragments of
vases, pitchers and sick room artifacts placed at the grave of the
"Historical Atlas of Alabama, Volume 2, Cemetery
Locations of Alabama,"
lists 178 cemeteries in Barbour County. Within them stand hundreds
markers inscribed with bits of information about the lives of those
But within them also are the resting places of hundreds of
farmers, slaves and free blacks, women and children, who, as Russell
"lived, died and are forgotten."