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Friday, August 8, 2008

Preserving Memories of Our Forefathers


At rural locations sprinkled throughout our county and in reality, throughout our nation, there are neglected and forgotten graveyards. These sites are usually at a place where a stately family home with a family burial plot existed. Having family cemeteries was a common practice in the days before flowered memory gardens and commercial cemeteries became a business. Many other forgotten cemeteries wither away at locations where community churches once stood.
The tragic part of this situation is those hundreds of now forgotten people who were buried at these neglected and ignored grave yards. Statesmen, judges, valiant soldiers, devoted mothers and fathers, outstanding citizens, and forefathers of us all….their markers fallen over and their graves cracked and burrowed, they wait for rediscovery. They all were born, loved, prayed, worked, shared, and contributed to their world and their families during their lifetimes.
After the passage of 150 years or so, and six or seven subsequent generations have walked this earth behind us, who will remember you or me? For most of us, the only enduring memorial of our time on this earth is our grave marker. When that is lost or destroyed, we are truly a forgotten part of history. To casually allow that to happen is very sad and very inappropriate.
One such cemetery, called the Hays Cemetery, is located about six miles north of Marianna at the intersection of Old U.S. Road and Farm Road. Through the years this aging and remote graveyard had become overgrown with brush, briars and young trees. As the surrounding properties were sold and resold through the years, the deeding of the site became unclear. The latest family to purchase the land surrounding this site was Mr. and Mrs. Bill Bigham. As part of the filing of the deed, they engaged Buddy Bannerman of Bannerman Surveyors to survey the boundaries as required by law.
Mr. Bannerman had a special interest in this project, since one of the graves in the old graveyard was the grave site of his great, great grandfather, John B. Anderson and his great grandmother, Dicy A. Anderson. Local retired businessman Kenneth Anderson is also related to them. Retired Farm Bureau executive, Ed Revell is another relative of the occupants of this old graveyard.
The new owners, Mr. and Mrs. Bill Bigham graciously deeded the graveyard to the Hays Cemetery Association, and assisted them in clearing and landscaping the area. Last week, at the Oaks Restaurant in Marianna, the cemetery group met with the Bighams and presented them with a plaque expressing their gratitude for the kind acts of respect for their forefathers the property owners had demonstrated through their kind act of clearing the deed for the graveyard.
As a result of the article we ran in the Jackson County Times on July 10 telling of the efforts of the local unit of the Sons of Confederate Veterans to locate and identify graves of confederate veterans in Jackson County, the Hayes Cemetery Association and the Confederate Veterans group made contact. Subsequent investigation resulted in the discovery of the graves of seven Confederate Veterans within the Hays Cemetery. These graves are now part of the registry and will be appropriately marked.
Graves that are now surveyed, identified, and marked in this once forgotten graveyard are:
E.A. Robinson 1779-1881, Carrie Robinson 1833-1879, Annie Robinson 1844-1878, Elizabeth Robinson 1799-1872, Henry Robinson 1840-1866, Nannie Lewis 1874-1964, Edward Lewis 1873-1952, Judge Amos Lewis 1876 – 1954, Lula Hays Wakefield 1859-1941, Benjamin Glover (unknown dates), Caladonia Hays Lewis 1850-1921, W.A. Lewis 1870-1915, O.W. Wakefield 1861-1903, M.M. Hays 1830-1913, Amos Hays 1822-1885, Florence Hays 1863-1865, Henry Clay Lewis 1842-1878, Henry Hays Lewis 1868-1935, Edna Bivings Lewis 1913-1915, Martha Estelle Lewis 1906-1909, Amos Mallory Lewis 1908-1909, Mary Allen Lewis 1900-1902, Mary Maud Lewis Pierce 1875-1897, Hallie Lewis (unknown), Virginia Blanche Powell 1860-1886, Alexander Hays 1857-1920, M.N. Dickson 1841-1896, Henry Garrett 1830-1867, John B. Anderson 1830-1886, Ella Nora Bowls Anderson 1853-1875, Dicy Anderson 1832-1872, Frank Knowles (1883-1883), Emma Knowles (1884-1887), Fannie Knowles (1883-1887), Francis Marian Knowles (1847-1903), Mary Cox Knowles (1855-1932), Robert Knowles (1888-1906).
Of the above listing, Confederate Veterans buried in this cemetery include E.A. Robinson, Henry Robinson, Benjamin Glover, M.N. Dickson, Henry Garrett, and John B. Anderson and Francis Knowles.
This historic graveyard is now refurbished and is in a condition befitting the remains of those fine souls that reside there. In order to assure the site continues to be well maintained, descendents of the Lewis and Hays families have made financial contributions to a maintenance fund.
This entire project, the work accomplished, the relationships established, and the forgotten souls now recalled, are all wonderful examples of the enduring goodness in man. We at the Jackson County Times congratulate them all.

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