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CVCS Website: http://www.chattahoocheevalleycemeteries.org/

Next meeting: To be determined at this date (27 May 2011). Everyone with an interest in preserving local and regional cemeteries is most welcome. Come join us!

Cemeteries are "a memorial and a record. (They are) not a mere field in which the dead are stowed away unknown; it is a touching and beautiful history, written in family burial plots, in mounded graves, in sculptured and inscribed monuments. (They tell) the story of the past, not of its institutions, or its wars, or its ideas, but of its individual lives,--of its men and women and children, and of its household. (A cemetery) is silent, but eloquent; it is common, but it is unique. We find no such history elsewhere; there are no records in all the wide world in which we can discover so much that is suggestive, so much that is pathetic and impressive." ~~ Joseph Anderson, American clergyman (1836-1916)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Discovery at the Liberty Hill Methodist Cemetery in Chattahoochee County

The Cemetery Committee of the Chattahoochee County Historic Preservation Society recently met to reset a displaced grave monument. The grave in question, that of Gordon Slappey BREWER (1830-1849), is at Liberty Hill Methodist Cemetery in southeastern Chattahoochee County. The grave, marked by an adult-sized marble ledger laid on the ground, is beside a marble box vault marking the grave of John BREWER, (1804-1854), father of Gordon. (A box vault is an above-ground tomb made of marble, brick, granite, or other material, and is typically topped with a ledger stone; while thehttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif box vault is above ground, the remains (in coffin, if any) is in the ground, and the above-ground vault is normally empty.)

The ledger marking Gordon BREWER’s grave is identical in size and material to John’s atop the box vault. These two graves are enclosed by an ornamental, wrought-iron fence, the lot being only slightly larger than the two adult graves. A small marble slab with the letter “E” carved into it, at the foot of the intact box vault, suggested perhaps an infant grave; a family member had even speculated that it marked the grave of Henrietta Elizabeth (SLAPPY) BREWER, wife of John, whose burial place has not been found.

Gordon BREWER’s ledger, on the ground, had a sizable corner piece broken off the head end. The ledger was heaving at a significant angle down toward the other grave, evidently having been pushed up at its outer edge and down on its inner edger by a large tree that had been allowed to grow up between the grave and the lot fence. The lower edge had started to be covered over with soil. Sometime ago a family member expressed a desire that the ledger be leveled. She was advised to have the tree cut down and the stump killed. These steps having been taken, the Committee undertook to remedy the heaving and subsidence.

The first task was to remove the stump that was still wedged between the ledger and the ornamental fence. Though dead, parts of the tree stump were still rather solid. Next, the two pieces of ledger had to be taken up so the ground underneath them could be leveled. In the process, the team began to find other pieces of marble. In short order, the team determined that the ledger did not belong on the ground at all, but originally rested on a box vault identical to the other one. Evidently, the second vault had collapsed some time ago, perhaps because a tree or large limb had fallen on it; most of the component parts of the vault had been gathered at the foot end of the fenced lot, except for a couple still beneath Gordon’s ledger. It turns out that what was believed to be a third grave at the foot was in fact stacked vault pieces (the carved “E” was on the interior face of one of the wall pieces and was apparently a builder’s mark to indicate where that piece belonged in the construction of the box vault).

The Committee leveled the ledger on the ground and resolved to return at a later date with more volunteers and the materials needed to restore the box vault, if this should be the wishes of the family member. Committee members participating in this repair project were Gwanda Place (Committee Chair), Bill Place, Dave Cameron, and John Land.

The dead stump of a tree that had encroached between an ornamental lot fence and the grave monument for Gordon Slappey BREWER.

The box vault marking the grave of Gordon’s father, John BREWER, was still intact.

Component parts of the box vault marking Gordon’s grave, such as these wall pieces, had been stacked at the foot of the fenced lot long ago.

The marble ledger for Gordon’s grave has now been leveled, but still rests on the ground. Component parts of his box vault lie waiting until the monument can be restored.

Credit on all four photos: Gwanda Place


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