Old Graves and Graveyards in Greensboro, Alabama
There are a number of scattered graves in Greensboro of which the present generation—most of them—know nothing.
On the eastern edge of the woods in the rear of the Otts residence are quite a number of graves, the dead of Troy being interred there. No tombstones are to be seen, but the graves are bricked up, and all that is known is, that beneath the sod repose the remains of some of the ancient settlers of this section—their names and their history being entirely obliterated.
Graves of Frederick and Thomas Peck
Frederick and Thomas Peck are among the first inhabitants of Greensboro. There are also a number of graves in the rear of Dr. A. Lawson’s residence—it being the burial place of the Pecks.
Here lie the remains of Frederick Peck, one of the earliest settlers of Greensboro, who was the First postmaster and among the very first merchants of the place. He died February 4th, 1846. Mrs. Eliza Peck is also buried here, she having died in April, 1863. Rev. Wm. S. Peck, formerly the pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Livingston, is buried here. He died in September, 1849.
In this same enclosure are the graves of Mrs. Sophia Wemyss, who died in September 1822, and Edwin A. Wemyss, who died in June 1855. The Wemyss were formerly very prominent citizens of this place. In the northwest corner of the little graveyard, solitary and alone, is a tombstone, bearing this inscription: “Abram Duff. Born April 1790; died June 1852.” He was probably a relative of the Pecks or Wemyss’, but not a soul could be found who remembered that he had ever resided in the town of Greensboro, though he supposedly lived here a long while.
Behind the house of Dr. Jackson
In a clump of woods in the rear of Dr. R. H. Jackson’s old homestead on Demopolis street, is the family graveyard of the Mays. In this lot is buried General Patrick May, who joined General Andrew Jackson’s forces when they were in Alabama quelling disturbances with the Indians. He was a very brave soldier. At the battle of Burnt Corn, which was fought in 1813, Lieut. May and two other soldiers, became separated from the main body of the army while fighting with the Indians in a swamp. The savages were concealed in a dense canebrake, and the three men were battling with a large number of them.
Jackson House, Demopolis Street, ca. 1936 (Library of Congress)
As the fight progressed, a tall, swathy warrior, more brave than his fellows, came out of hiding and leveled his gun on May, who also threw his into position. The weapons were discharged at the same instant. The Indian warrior fell forward a corpse, while May was uninjured, but the fire of the savage shattered May’s gun near the lock. Being thus disarmed, he thought it best to retreat, and the three made a rush for their horses, but before reaching them. one of the soldiers, Lieut. Girard W. Creagh, was shot down by the Indians, the ball entering his hip. He fell upon the ground, exclaiming: “Save me, Lieutenant, or I am gone!”
Instantly, May wheeled around, ran to his fallen companion, raised him from the ground and bore him off on his back,—the Indians following rapidly. Reaching their horses, Creagh was placed on his animal, and May and the other soldier leaped into their saddles, and made off at full speed, soon joining the main body of troops from which they had become separated. May became a noted Indian fighter in the succeeding years. He died at his home in Greensboro—the red brick house on the hill to the east of Brick Springs—on April 5th, 1868, and was buried in the family graveyard. No tomb has ever been erected above his grave, and it is a mere matter of speculation which of the mounds of earth his remains lie beneath.
After Burnt Corn
Many years after the happening at Burnt Corn, when the young man whose life May had saved had married and his children were grown, a son of Creagh, having often heard the incident related above told by his father, resolved to see the man to whom his father owed his life, He came to Greensboro, met the General and his family, fell in love with one of his daughters, and they were happily married,—the Creaghs of Selma and Birmingham being the children of this marriage.
For more than half a century after the settlement of Greensboro, there were no public graveyards—all burials being made on private ground. The Stokes graveyard, in the northern suburbs of the town—where lie the remains of the older inhabitants, was never a public burial place. It was owned by private individuals, and the lots were bought from them.
Purchasing land for public cemetery caused hard feelings
When the question came up for the purchase by the town of Greensboro of a public cemetery, this place, of course, was under serious consideration by those who had the matter in charge. The land was of little value for cultivation, and was really worth only a nominal sum, but the owners, knowing the interest the public and the relatives of those who were buried there felt in the matter, demanded what was considered a most exorbitant price for the plat, which the town authorities refused to pay.
Much bad feeling was engendered, which lasted for quite a long while—in fact, until all who had to do with the matter directly, needed for themselves a quiet resting place in a cemetery.
Stokes Graveyard – many old residents
The present site, known as the Greensboro cemetery, was bought by the town, and the Stokes graveyard gradually came into disuse as a burial place. Only an occasional interment is ever made therein. It presents a very sad and dilapidated appearance. In this old burial place repose the remains of the men and women who walked the streets of Greensboro when the town was young, and who owned the lands, the stores and houses for miles around. Their word was law in the old days. They established our churches and Schools, directed the affairs of government, carried on the commerce, and put forth their best efforts for the uplift of humanity. But they lived in a period of the history of this section to which the present generation is a stranger, —amidst the dazzling splendors of the “old South,” when men owned slaves by the hundreds, and were lords upon their large landed estates.
The great majority of them passed from the stage of action years before the changed conditions (resultant upon the civil war) took place in the Southland. Their long sleep was undisturbed by the roar of cannon and the rattle of musketry as tremendous issues were fought out and decided in the bloody battles between the northern and southern troops nearly half a century ago.
From the present appearance of the Stokes graveyard, it would seem that those who are buried there have been forgotten. Many of the tombs have toppled over, the brick vaults have crumbled, and only gaping cavities reveal, in many instances, the last resting place of those over whom no tombs were erected. Brambles and briers run riot everywhere, and it is with difficulty one makes his way through the tangled mass of undergrowth in this old burial place of the long ago.
The following are the names of some of those who have rested out there on the hillside for many, many years,—names that are known far beyond the confines of Greensboro and of Alabama:
(Note from transcriber – This graveyard has been saved. Click to see gravestone at findagrave.com – There are 125 identified graves and all but one on this list have been identified)
- Robert Heywood McFadden, died 1858;
- John D. Moore, died 1849;
- Thomas M. Johnston, died 1863;
- Catherine, wife of Wm. A. Jones, died 1852; (Caroline?)
- Mary Ellen, wife of Richard H. Lewis, and daughter of Louis A. Foreman, died 1840; or Memorial# 90842715
- Thomas H. Shackelford, died 1840;
- John R. Witherspoon, died 1852;
- Wm. T. Bryan, died 1827;
- Thomas W. Witherspoon, died 1836;
- Rev. Thomas S. Witherspoon, died 1844;
- Robert Franklin Witherspoon, died 1840;
- Rev. J. Hillhouse, died 1835;
- Elizabeth Stokes. died 1833;
- George M. Johnston, died 1834;
- James Johnston Huckabee, died 1854;
- James Huckabee, died 1851;
- George F. Huckabee, died 1851;
- Elizabeth Eddins, wife of Dr. D. Eddins, died 1850;
- Jesse Shivers, died 1845;
- Thomas Eddins, died 1850;
- Miles S. Wright, died 1843;
- John Locke, died 1848;
- Wm. S. Bird, died 1840;
- James Cowan, died 1844;
- William Alfred Locke, died 1845;
- Jane, wife of Squire Lowry, died 1840;
- Martha Stewart, wife of Larkin Stewart, died 1841;
- William P. Stewart, died 1843;
- Amanda F. Peterson, died 1858;
- Jane Byrd Page, died 1840;
- Dr. Elisha Young, senior and junior. and 14793974
Eight miles to the westward from Greensboro, on the Tuscaloosa and Sawyerville road near the public thoroughfare, is a desolate and neglected graveyard in which are buried the remains of a number of the French refugees who came to this section of Alabama after the downfall of Napoleon at Waterloo. For years many of them lived in the neighborhood where the graveyard is located and died exiles from the land of their nativity. In a radius of five miles resided the Bayols, the Bordens, the Stollenwercks, the Maniers, the Baumgardiners and others.
View of a portion of the old Stokes Graveyard—taken June 28, 1908.
Old French Graveyard. The trees shown in the picture have grown above the graves of a number of the refugees.
Manier was a school teacher, and the house in which he resided and taught the children of the past generation is still to be seen. The Roudets and the Gardins, and perhaps others over whom no tombs are now standing, are buried in the little cemetery, and some of them have been resting out there in the wide stretch of the prairies for more than seventy years.
Huge maple trees have grown up on the graves of the quiet sleepers, and in the beautiful green foliage the mocking birds pour forth their sweetest songs throughout the day, and the silent stars keep watch by night above this last resting place of those who loved the great Emperor too well, and who paid the penalty of that devotion by filling an exile’s grave in a land far away from bright and sunny La Belle France,—as did Napoleon himself on the lonely Isle of St. Helena.
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