Thursday, February 16, 2006
help identifying graves
By SUE WATSON
Early Grove Methodist Church, established circa 1857, is asking for help with identifying unmarked graves in the cemetery, according to Saundra Nunley, member. The church is also accepting any information about the church located at 1085 Early Grove Road.
Articles, pictures of christenings, weddings, programs or pastors or other information are welcomed, she said.
We know of 10 or 12 names of people buried there without markers, Nunley said.
The unmarked graves are known just from talking to people, she said.
We just want to see this done, said Nunley. We both (herself and Nancy Bolden) are into genealogy big time and we want to contribute something during this lifetime. Those (unmarked) graves hold somebodys father, daughter, child or mother.
The exact date when the first church was built is unknown because the land deed to the two acre cemetery and first church were destroyed when the courthouse burned during the Civil War, Nunley said. The cemeterys oldest marker is believed to be dated to 1859.
Nunley estimates there are 300 plus known and marked graves. There is no noticeable organization or layout to the cemetery, she said.
The only hint of a design is one family plot, the Franklin family, that is enclosed in a wrought-iron fence with four plots, Nunley said. And there are other Franklin family members buried outside that plot. According to a descendent, the Franklin family helped build the original church and started the cemetery, she said.
The church deed of record is dated October 10, 1867 and states it replaces the original which was delivered in 1857, the one destroyed when the courthouse burned.
The oldest marked grave is the headstone of Ann Amelia Franklin (1821- July 14, 1859), the wife of Columbus B. Franklin.
The Franklin family is one of the earliest to settle in Early Grove. Maxwell Wilson is believed to be the first settler, soon joined by families from the Carolinas and Virginia.
Other settlers included the Abernathys, Baileys, Masons, Tuckers, Worshams, Wellborns and Vaughns.
Family sketches left by members of the Abernathy and Vaughn families indicate a community of about 100 homes (mostly brick, two-story) existed prior to the Civil War at Early Grove. But the larger community is estimated to have included 1,000 buildings which included cabins, barns, businesses, a post office, two large mercantiles, schools and a Masonic Hall.
Most of the plantation homes were destroyed during the war, including the mansion of A.T. and Susan Hardaway Mason, burned immediately upon arrival of troops from the North. The 1860 Marshall County Federal census records Early Grove inhabitants as being an exceptionally wealthy people.
Two brick churches were built in the 1850s, St. Johns Episcopal which burned during cleaning day before 1920 and Early Grove Methodist.
The old Methodist Church was torn down and rebuilt back on the same spot in 1982. The original church was built with bricks made locally.
Persons with information regarding relatives or family friends who may be buried in an unmarked grave are asked to contact Nunley at 252-3764 or to write her at 353 Wilburn Road, Lamar, MS 38642.
(662) 252-4261 or email@example.com
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