Sunset Hill Cemetery, 1861, Valdosta

Strickland Family plot

Sunset Hill is the oldest public cemetery in Valdosta. It was established in 1861 with a gift of 30 acres by Charles Ogden Force, a former Valdosta postmaster. Like the vast majority of Victorian cemeteries, Sunset Hill has a park-like layout. It is well-maintained by the city. I only had time to document a few monuments, so the examples here are shared for their general aesthetic appeal.

Charles S. Strickland (22 February 1822-1 November 1883)
Emma Tillman Lane (9 January 1865-6 November 1906)
Emma Tillman Lane monument, detail
Dr. Oscar Samuel Cummings (27 April 1848-17 February 1883), Dove Finial
Dr. Oscar Samuel Cummings monument, The Last Voyage Bas Relief

This fascinating relief is one of four which adorn the sides of the monument of Dr. Oscar Samuel Cummings, a native of New Hampshire who practiced medicine and was an active Mason in Valdosta before his death. It is the work of the Monumental Bronze Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut. Monumental Bronze marketed their memorials as “white bronze”, though they were neither white nor bronze. Instead, they were cast of zinc and were quite popular, and expensive, during the 1880s and 1890s.

The Last Voyage was designed by sculptor Archibald McKellar for the Monumental Bronze Company in 1881. It was based on A Gentle Wafting to Immortal Life, a marble sculpture by Felix M. Miller, and an engraving by William Roffe. Miller chose his title from a line in Milton’s Paradise Lost: “A death, like Sleep, A gentle wafting to immortal life.”

National Register of Historic Places

Tomb of Governor Troup, Lothair

This sandstone enclosure is the de facto memorial to one of early Georgia’s best known politicians, Governor George Michael* Troup (8 September 1780-26 April 1856). The obelisk was placed in 1848 upon the death of Troup’s brother, Robert Lachlan Troup (1784-1848). The enclosure was built by slaves from sandstone quarried nearby at Berry Hill Bluff of the Oconee River.

*- Some sources assert that Troup’s middle name was actually McIntosh. This is due to the fact that Troup’s mother was a McIntosh and he was born at McIntosh’s Bluff on Alabama’s Tombigbee River, which was part of Georgia at the time of the governor’s birth.

Detail of engraving of George Troup from The Life of George M. Troup by Edward Jenkins Harden, 1859. Public domain.

Governor Troup spent most of his time after his 1833 retirement at Val d’ Osta, his home in Dublin. He died while visiting Rosemont Plantation, one of numerous properties he owned in Laurens and Montgomery counties. A man of his time, Troup was a fierce supporter of slavery, owning around 400 human beings during his lifetime. It is also suggested that, like many slave owners, he fathered children with some of his female slaves.

Troup served as a state representative, member of the House of Representatives, United States senator, and two-term governor of Georgia (1823-1827).  Georgia’s best-known politician of the era, William Harris Crawford, encouraged Troup to run for governor. His first run was unsuccessful, due largely to the deep divide between the aristocratic planter class (by now known as Troupites) and the common farmers and frontier settlers (known as Clarkites, for John Clark) that had dominated state politics since the late 18th century. The state largely favored the Clarkites, but when Clark chose not to run in 1823, Troup was elected as an alternative. As a Democratic-Republican governor he ensured the removal of the Creek peoples from Georgia, a dubious achievement from a modern perspective. His endorsement of the Treaty of Indian Springs was met with an amended version from President John Quincy Adams, who favored allowing the Creeks slightly more land, but Troup ordered the militia to enforce his version. President Adams capitulated, not wanting to go to “war” with Troup over the Indian issue. He eventually became a strong Jacksonian Democrat and was nationally recognized for being a champion of states’ rights.

The ornamental iron gate was designed by Savannah blacksmiths D. & W. Rose.

Governor Troup was the namesake of Troup County, and Troupville, the first permanent county seat of Lowndes County. The present county seat of Lowndes County, Valdosta, is named for his plantation, Val d’ Osta.

Children’s Monuments, Woodlawn Cemetery, Eastman

My great-grandmother was from Eastman and while living there, she lost a baby, Mary Elizabeth Browning, in 1923. Over the years we visited Woodlawn Cemetery on numerous occasions to tend to the grave and pay respects to others. Just inside the gates of Woodlawn, two monuments marking children’s graves always caught my attention for their solemnity and the skills of their sculptors/carvers. (Above: Mathew T. Clark (1896-1901), son of Harlow & L. D. Clark)

This monument marks the final resting place of Cora Weaver (1884-19 October 1885), daughter of Mr. & Mrs. D. W. Weaver.

Children’s monuments, so common in older cemeteries, are a sad reminder of the high rates of infant mortality before the advent of modern medicine.

Monuments of Andersonville National Historic Site

With its notorious reputation as one of the worst Confederate prison stockades, the site of Camp Sumter inevitably became hallowed ground to the survivors and families of those who died here, including Confederate guards. Between 1899 and 1916, a series of monuments were placed by various states at the stockade site and within the cemetery, and their dedications were huge events, with survivors and regular citizens making the long journey to Andersonville by train. The Georgia Monument (above) was placed on Memorial Day 1976 at the entrance to the cemetery.

State Monuments of the Cemetery Site

The Illinois Monument, a collaboration by sculptor Charles Mulligan and state architect Carbys Zimmerman, is one of the nicest of all the memorials in the cemetery.

Dedicated in 1912, it features a bronze sculpture of Columbia pointing to fallen heroes, flanked by Youth and Maiden.

Statues of anonymous Illinois veterans leaning on the words of Lincoln and saddened by the human loss of war, flank each wing of the monument.

The Iowa Monument, dedicated in 1906, features a weeping woman atop a red base. The front of the base features a relief of an Iowa infantryman and the words: Iowa honors the turf that wraps their clay. The Unknown. Their names are recorded in the archives of their country. 

Though it was placed in 1911, the New York Monument wasn’t dedicated until 1914. It features bronze reliefs on the front and back of a tapered granite marker.

The back relief features a young and old soldier sitting inside the stockade with an angel hovering above them. It’s one of the most moving sculptures at the site.

The New Jersey Monument was among the first of the state monuments placed at Andersonville.

It features a soldier at parade rest, surveying the dead.

The Connecticut Monument commission chose a design by Boston sculptor Bela Lyon Pratt. It was dedicated in 1907.

It depicts a typical young Connecticut soldier.

The Minnesota Monument is one of three monuments of the same design that Minnesota dedicated in 1916, the other two being located at the National Cemeteries in Little Rock and Memphis.

It depicts a young Union soldier in a winter coat.

The impressive Pennsylvania Monument features a mournful soldier atop an arch.

It was installed by Miller & Clark Granite and Monumental Works of Americus and dedicated in 1901.

The Maine Monument was erected in 1903. It was dedicated not only in memory of those who died here but to all who served. It was designed and cut by C. E. Tayntor & Company of Hollowell, Maine.

The Indiana Monument was dedicated in 1908.

State Monuments of the Prison Site

The Massachusetts Monument was dedicated in 1901, honoring the state’s 767 known dead at the site.

A favorite of many visitors, the Michigan Monument features a life-size weeping maiden.

It was created by the Lloyd Brothers Monument Company of Toledo, Ohio, and dedicated in 1904. Among those present at the dedication were ten carloads of former veterans from Fitzgerald, Georgia, the Union soldiers colony about an hour east of Andersonville.

At 40 feet, the Ohio Monument is the tallest at Andersonville. Dedicated in 1901, it is the second oldest monument in the park.

Like many of the others in the park, it features the motto “Death Before Dishonor”.

The Wisconsin Monument, accomplished in Georgia granite and topped by a bronze eagle, was dedicated in 1907. This view is from the rear of the monument.

The Rhode Island Monument was dedicated in 1903. As it’s the smallest state, its monument is also the smallest state monument at Andersonville. The 74 Rhode Island soldiers who are buried in the cemetery are all named on the monument. Among the is Charles F. Curtis, 5th Rhode Island Heavy Artillery, who was one of the leaders of the despised Andersonville Raiders. These men were hanged by the other prisoners for terrorizing, stealing from, and even murdering some of  their fellow captives.

The so-called 8-State Monument was placed by the Woman’s Relief Corps (auxiliary of the Grand Army of the Republic) in 1934 to memorialize the states that didn’t have a monument. It was dedicated in 1936. States listed are: Delaware, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, Vermont, West Virginia.

Other Monuments at Andersonville

Lizabeth Ann Turner was a prominent member of the Woman’s Relief Corps (WRC) who were instrumental in securing and beautifying the grounds at Andersonville. She had been a volunteer nurse in Boston during the Civil War and in 1895 became the National President of the WRC. Mrs. Turner died while visiting the prison site on 27 April 1907 and this memorial was dedicated to honor her in 1908.

Clara Barton was a leader in the effort to identify the dead at Andersonville and to establish the site as a National Cemetery. This monument, commissioned by the WRC, was dedicated on Memorial Day 1915.

On Memorial Day 1929, this monument commissioned by the Woman’s Relief Corps and authorized by President Hoover, was dedicated. It features two bronze tablets containing the words of the Gettysburg Address and General Logan’s Memorial Day Order of 1868.

There is also a monumental sundial, which isn’t pictured, and a wellhouse at Providence Spring, which will be covered elsewhere.

On 3 May 1989, the anniversary of the liberation of the German prison camp Stalag XVII-B, this monument was dedicated to honor all prisoners of German camps throughout the European theater of World War II. It is the last monument dedicated at Andersonville and is located within the cemetery, unlike the preceding monuments which are located at the prison site.

Southern State Monuments of the Cemetery Site

The Tennessee Monument is unusual in that it honors Southern natives who died at Camp Sumter in service to the Union. It was funded by contributions of Tennessee members of the Grand Army of the Republic. It was dedicated in 1915, within the prison site.

The Georgia Monument, dedicated on Memorial Day 1976, was the last state monument placed at Andersonville. Governor Jimmy Carter, who had worked to have Andersonville included in the National Park System, was instrumental in the monument being placed. It was created by Athens sculptor William J. Thompson. It commemorates lost prisoners of all American wars.

Andersonville National Historic Site

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Civil War Village, Andersonville

The picturesque tourist village of Andersonville is essentially a living museum, with over 75,000 visitors annually making the short drive from the park entrance across Georgia Highway 49 to further explore the story of the area. The locals are very friendly and welcoming, with antique shops, a cafe, and one of the best Civil War museums (despite its size; middle building pictured below) to be found in Georgia. Gerald Lamby’s Drummer Boy Civil War Museum has been praised by students and scholars of the war from far and wide. The village post office (pictured above) is still open, and one of just a handful in Georgia not located in modern facilities. It’s a throwback to a time when most post offices were located in general stores or similar frame structures.

Prior to the establishment of Camp Sumter, the surrounding area was focused on agriculture. Originally known as Anderson (for John Anderson, a director of the South Western Railroad), the village name was changed to Andersonville when a post office was established in 1855.

It became a supply center and grew during the war, but at the end of hostilities reverted to farming. In 1973 longtime mayor Lewis Easterlin led the effort to create and promote the tiny town as a Civil War village. Most of the prominent structures seen today were relocated here, saving them for posterity when they would have otherwise been lost.

Perhaps the most prominent feature of the village is the Henry Wirz Monument. Controversial from inception, the simple obelisk has drawn ire, and vandalism, over the years. Even its location at Andersonville was questioned throughout the state before its placement. Captain Heinrich Hartmann “Henry” Wirz was born in Zurich Switzerland in 1822 and served as the commanding officer at Camp Sumter. In 14 months, over 13,000 Union soldiers perished at the prison camp, which was particularly despised by the Union. Wirz was tried as a war criminal and hanged in Washington, D. C., on 10 November 1865. In response to the 16 Union monuments erected in the nearby National Cemetery between 1899 and 1916, the United Daughters of the Confederacy commissioned a memorial to Wirz as a countermeasure. During this era, the UDC was at the forefront of promoting what is known today as Lost Cause mythology. Language on the monument’s base confirms this: Discharging his duty with such humanity as the harsh circumstances of the times, and the policy of the foe permitted Capt. Wirz became at last the victim of a misdirected popular clamor. He was arrested in the time of peace, while under the protection of parole, tried by a military commission of a service to which he did not belong, and condemned to ignominious death on charges of excessive cruelty to Federal prisoners. He indignantly spurned a pardon proffered on condition that he would incriminate President Davis and thus exonerate himself from charges of which both were innocent. Also present are these words of General Grant from 18 August 1864: It is hard on our men held in southern prisons not to exchange them, but it is humanity to those left in the ranks to fight our battles. At this particular time to release all rebel prisoners would insure Sherman’s defeat and would compromise our safety here. The monument was dedicated by the Daughters on 12 May 1909. It has been referred to as the only U. S. monument to a war criminal.

The Atlanta Birmingham & Atlantic Railroad depot was relocated from Mauk, a settlement about 38 miles northwest of Andersonville in Taylor County.

This is one of several antique stores in the village which also sell Civil War-related memorabilia and folk art.

A town hall is painted blue and grey, keeping with the Civil War theme. I’m not sure its original use or location, but feel it was moved here like many of the other historical buildings.

There’s also a village hall, which was built in 1843 on nearby Lightwood Creek and moved to Andersonville in 1890. Wings were added at some point and it served for many years as Andersonville Baptist Church.

Beside the village hall is this gazebo, which I think was the bandstand from nearby Miona Springs.

Just beyond the Village Hall is the inspiring St. James Pennington Church, moved from the nearby hamlet of Pennington.

 

 

 

 

 

Ford Monument, Cuthbert

Cuthbert might be the last place one would expect to find an exquisite copy of Michelangelo’s Night, but it’s an unmistakable presence just inside the entrance to historic Rosedale Cemetery. It’s one of the finest examples of anonymous public art to be found in Georgia.

It marks the graves of Aaron Lane Ford (1903-1983) and his wife Gertrude Castellow Ford (1913-1996). Ford was a lifelong Mississippian and represented that state in Congress from 1935-1943. Mrs. Ford was the daughter of Congressman Bryant Thomas Castellow, who represented Georgia in Washington from 1932-1937. Though they spent their married life in Mississippi, I presume Mrs. Ford’s local connections are the reason they were interred here.

The allegorical sculpture was originally created for the tomb of Giuliano de’Medici in Florence and is considered one of Michelangelo’s most important commissions.

Cuthbert Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Ty Cobb Monument, 1986, Royston

Like the larger statue of Ty Cobb directly in front of it, this monument has been moved to a place of prominence in front of the library. The reverse side lists some of Cobb’s myriad records, many of which will likely never be broken.

 

 

Early Settlers Cemetery, 1881, Swainsboro

Over 80 of Swainsboro and Emanuel County’s earliest settlers are buried in this secluded downtown cemetery. It’s a great space for quiet reflection and if you’re a taphophile, you’ll enjoy it.

The triumphant arch marks the graves of John Calhoun Coleman (28 October 1844-1 January 1923) and wife Martha Sarah “Mattie” Moring Coleman (21 April 1858-15 September 1926). The angel memorializes their daughter, Juanita Coleman Smith (16 March 1874-18 May 1910). Mr. Coleman was one of the most prominent men in Emanuel County during his lifetime and was a Confederate veteran. He served in Company H, Georgia Volunteer Infantry, taking part in the Seven Days Battle, first and second battles of Cold Harbor, Harper’s Ferry, Second Manassas, Sharpsburg, first and second battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysbur, and finally at Manassas Gap, where he was captured and held as a prisoner until the end of the war.

John Coleman Mitchell (25 April 1897-21 January 1901). Grandson of John Calhoun Coleman.

 

 

 

Della Burch Monument, Telfair County

This exceptional monument, located in the Blockhouse Baptist Church Cemetery, was commissioned by Dr. Geiger Augustus Burch upon the death of his wife, Della Smith Burch (30 April 1878-20 January 1914). Blockhouse Baptist was organized in 1877  and built on the site of the blockhouse built by General David Blackshear during the War of 1812.

Laurel Grove Cemetery, 1853, Savannah

Set aside from the old Springfield Plantation lands of the Stiles family in 1850 to meet Savannah’s burgeoning need for new burial grounds, Laurel Grove* was officially dedicated by Henry Rootes Jackson at a ceremony  in 1852 and opened for burials in 1853. The cemetery was so popular that it was deemed “full” by the early years of the 20th century and closed to new burials. As a result, it contains one of the largest concentrations of Victorian-era funerary sculpture and ornamentation in the state. It fell into a terrible state of disrepair for decades but preservation efforts, sometimes contentious, have vastly improved its appearance in recent years.

*To distinguish the white and black sections, divided by the I-16 connector, the terms North and South are used today. The white section is referred to as Laurel Grove North Cemetery.

Many famous Savannahians rest here, including: Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girls Scouts; James Lord Pierpont, author of Jingle Bells; and famed Jewish Confederate nurse Phoebe Pember. Also present are an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court (James Moore Wayne), cabinet members, United States Senators and Representatives, at least two dozen Savannah mayors, eight Confederate generals, a Union General, namesakes of numerous Georgia counties and towns, and a Bishhop of the Episcopal Church (Stephen Elliott) who was also the only Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America. Most of these are not included in the post at the present time but will be added soon.

Perhaps the most-visited memorial in Laurel Grove is not of any celebrity but rather this Cararra marble angel marking the final resting place of Louisa Porter. This work by Italian sculptor A. Caniparoli has drawn admirers since it was installed and continues to wow to this day.

Louisa Porter (8 May 1807-5 August 1888)

Louisa Porter’s father, Dr. Adam Alexander emigrated from Inverness, Scotland, to the United States in 1776. He served the Colonial Army as a surgeon during the Revolutionary War. Her mother, Louisa Frederika Schmidt, was German. Louisa was born in Liberty County in 1807, following an older brother, Adam. In 1824, she married Anthony Porter, president of the Bank of Georgia. Though she had no children, Louisa was quite dedicated to philanthropic efforts, especially those involving children. Over the years she served on the board of the Savannah Free School and as director of the Savannah Female Society. Her greatest contribution, perhaps, was her role in the creation of the Industrial Relief Society and Home for the Friendless. Upon her death, much of her wealth went to the society and its name was changed to the Louisa Porter Home for Girls.

George W. Martus (31 May 1861-24 June 1940) and Florence M Martus (7 August 1868-8 February 1943)

Florence and brother George Martus were the lighthouse keepers on Elba Island in the Savannah River for 35 years. Florence will forever remembered by Savannahians as “The Waving Girl” and has been memorialized by a popular statue on the downtown riverfront. A Georgia Historical Commission marker (at another location) reads: For 44 years, Florence Martus lived on…Elba Island with her brother, the lighthouse keeper, and no ship arrived for Savannah or departed from 1887 to 1931 without her waving a handkerchief by day or a lantern by night. Throughout the years, the vessels in return watched for and saluted this quiet little woman. Few people ever met her yet she became the source of romantic legends when the story of her faithful greetings was told in ports all over the world. After her retirement, the Propeller Club of Savannah, in honor of her seventieth birthday, sponsored a celebration on Cockspur Island. A Liberty ship, built in Savannah in 1943, was named for her.

 

Othelia Strasser Forrest (15 November 1875-11 December 1905)

Henry C. Heuisler (10 November 1849-24 July 1901)

This monument depicting a weeping widow was placed by Emma Getz Heuisler (1857-1938) after the loss of her husband.

Elizabeth “Bessie” Brown Fetzer (1868-1896) and Laura Fetzer (1878-1904)

Robert Clifford Fetzer (?-20 February 1920) placed this memorial to honor both of his wives.

The Jewish section is quite large, reflecting a prosperous community with roots reaching back as far as the founding of Georgia. The Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life notes: By the time of Oglethorpe’s landing, the Jews were already on the way. Apparently, the Jewish community of London seemed just as eager to dispose themselves of their own dependent citizenry, and in 1732 a committee of prominent Jewish Londoners organized a ship to transport their financially strapped brethren across the Atlantic, out of sight and off the community dole.

The William and Sarah, chock full of 42 Hebrews, left London the following January, a month before Oglethorpe had even set foot in the New World. After a perilous journey, the ship finally reached Savannah on July 11, 1733. Upon their disembarking, Savannah instantly became the site of the largest Jewish settlement in the New World. Although the colony’s trustees were unhappy with the appearance of Jews in Savannah, James Oglethorpe welcomed them with equanimity and optimism. He defended his decision by pointing out that the Georgia charter only excluded Catholics and slaves, and made no reference to Jewish settlers.

The passengers aboard the William and Sarah were largely of Sephardic descent, with a smaller population of German Jews. The eight German Jews consisted of Benjamin and Perla Sheftall, a man named Jacob Yowel, and the brothers Abraham and Simon Minis and their families. The Sephardic immigrants included Dr. Samuel Nunes Ribiero, a prominent physician who arrived with his family. Dr. Ribiero was not fleeing poverty, but persecution. When the Portuguese Inquisition returned with a vengeance in 1720, Dr. Ribiero and others who secretly preserved their Jewish identity fled the country in large numbers. Dr. Ribiero and his family left for London, and from there secured passage to Savannah.

 

Lena Ehrlich (15 May 1820-13 August 1884)

Henry Rothschild

Ornamental ironwork abounds in Laurel Grove. Oaks and acorns are among the most common themes.

This section of Laurel Grove contains the remains of over one hundred men who died in battle at Gettysburg in 1863. Their bodies were brought to Savannah after a ladies’ memorial society raised money for proper burials.

The dead are watched over by “Silence”, a statue originally placed in a gazebo beside the Confederate monument in Forsyth Park, but removed to Laurel Grove to placate ladies who felt she looked as if she were in a cage.

The old Confederate Veterans Association of Savannah likely placed this memorial around the turn of the last century. A carronade cannon said to have seen service during the 1864 Siege of Savannah rested here for many years. The cannon was removed to Fort Jackson by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1990.

Dr. Samuel A. T. Lawrence (?-11 October 1860) and family.

Gilmer-Minis Family Pavilion

Louisa Frederica Alexander Gilmer  (9 June 1824-19 November 1895)

Louisa Gilmer was the wife of Confederate Major General Jeremy Francis Gilmer (1818-1883), Chief of the Confederate Corps of Engineers, and was the sister of Confederate Brigadier General Edward Porter Alexander.

Margaret Marshall (1841 or 1842-26 May 1866)

Elizabeth Wyman Westberry (13 November 1916-11 January 1918)

Reverend Willard Preston (29 May 1785-26 April 1856)

Enduring examples of all manner of Victorian funerary art are found throughout Laurel Grove.

Selected Mausolea of Laurel Grove

William Clark (1791 or 1792-30 October 1872)

Captain Joseph Samuel Claghorn (22 January 1817-8 April 1879) and family.

Captain Claghorn was born in Norwich, Connecticut, and came with his family to Savannah in 1827. In 1846 he married Sarah Campbell Hunter. Claghorn was elected Captain of the Chatham Artillery in 1856, a post he held until 1862.

Francis Sorrel (4 May 1793-5 May 1870) and family, including Confederate Brigadier General Gilbert Moxley Sorrel (23 February 1838-10 August 1901).

William Wright (10 March 1817-4 December 1860)

Thanks to Bill Harrison, 3rd great nephew of William Wright for the information. He notes that originally the crypt had a glass door through which my mother viewed his body many time, especially the large gold watch & chain across his midsection; however, grave robbers broke the glass door and looted the graves. The wooden door was the replacement.

William Seabrook Lawton (1824-1893) and family.

Lawton was the brother of Confederate Brigadier General Alexander Robert Lawton, and Captain Edward Payson Lawton, who died from wounds received at the Battle of Fredericksburg.

The tall Gothic spires on the Lawton mausoleum are being restored.

Richard Farr Williams (1785-1838) and family.

John Henry Haupt (23 August 1780-?) and family

Isaac William Morrell (1794-23 January 1865) and family.

George Anderson (1767-1847) and family.

Dr. William Richard Waring (23 February 1827-26 November 1889) and family.