Like a lot of people, I spend way too much time on Facebook. But as a stay at home mom, I find it’s a good way to keep in touch with friends and family when I’m busy. One such person is a fellow high school classmate of mine, Sharon Smith Patterson.
Sharon was a year behind me in school but we were in Select Chorus together at Fayette County High School. We reconnected on Facebook and she heard about my obsession with all things cemetery. When she told me about a small cemetery near where she’d grown up and now lives with her husband and kids, all I needed to know was where and when.
We eventually found time to meet up in Peachtree City near the end of the school year before the weather go too insanely hot. She is just as cute and sweet as I remembered her to be, and does not look like the mother of two teen girls. To me, she looks exactly the same, if not better, than our high school days.
Sharon isn’t a native of Fayette County but she moved here with her family from Stone Mountain as a child. Her grandparents bought a tract of land between Fayetteville and Peachtree City. Sharon’s grandparents, father and aunt built homes and settled their families on the property, tucked far back in the woods. The long gravel/dirt road remains unpaved. As I drove down it behind Sharon’s car, I felt like I was stepping back in time to a day when families lived off the land and farming was the order of the day. Sharon’s dad operates his own Christmas tree farm along this road. So in a way, the tradition continues.
Despite the gate with the giant STOP sign on it and the very old “No Trespassing” signs, we took the short hike through the trees to what is called Davis Cemetery. (It’s also known as Phillips Cemetery, although there are no graves with that name on them.) Sharon told me that she and her family visited the cemetery many times over the years and had never encountered anyone telling them to leave. She can even remember, as a child, making a sandwich for lunch and taking it to eat in the cemetery one day.
While Davis Cemetery is deep in the country, it seems to be well taken care of. Most of the graves are in decent shape, although a few are broken. None of them were buried in leaves or brush. I’m sure the Fayette County Historical Society does a good job at keeping things in good order since this little piece of land is an important piece of history itself.
There are only three Davises buried there (although some graves could be unmarked), but the cemetery has several graves with the name Adams on them. That’s because Bennett Adams and his wife, Mary Spradlin Adams, had a total of 14 children. Some of them died in childhood and are buried there with Mary. But a number of them went on to live long lives. Several of them are buried in nearby Flat Creek and Hopewell Cemeteries. Bennett is buried in the former.
Born in South Carolina in 1827, Bennett moved to Fayette County as a child. He married Mary Spradlin in 1849. Bennett served in the Confederate Army, enlisting in August 1862 in the 7th Georgia Infantry, Company C. Later, he received a pension from the state for his service in the war. His brothers James, Trus and Elias also served.
According to a letter on Elias’ Find a Grave memorial, he had the sad task of informing his parents that his brother, Trus, was dead:
“I seat myself this evening to let you all know that I got to my company safe but I am not well. I found Trus a corps [sic]. I got there on the 16th and he was killed about a half an hour before I got to him. He never spoke a word. He was shot through the heart. It was about five o’clock in the evening he was killed. I buried him as good as I could just as he was killed in his blanket. He was killed at Calhoun and we had to retreat that night. Maw you don’t know what sort of a feeling that I had when I got there and found Trus dead. You need not be surprised to hear of me and Fayette going the same way.”
Bennett became the postmaster of Flat Creek in Fayette County in 1902. He outlived Mary and died at the ripe old age of 88.
As I mentioned earlier, five of Mary and Bennett’s children died young. The saddest story is of little Luella Adams, who died in 1860 at the age of four. According to her Find a Grave memorial, she died due to injuries from a fire. Only a month later, sister Margaret would die of typhoid at the age of six.
Another family touched by tragedy is buried in Davis Cemetery. Three brothers from the Johnson family served in the Civil War, but only one came home.
William Johnson’s monument stood alone for many years until 2007 when his descendants, along with the local Sons of Confederate Veterans groups, ordered grave stones for Samuel and John. The two served in the 53rd Georgia Infantry. One died of illness and one died in battle. William, the youngest of the three, returned after serving in the 13th Georgia Infantry. He died in 1875.
Sharon has heard stories that at one time, a plantation was located in the area. Some of the crude nameless fieldstones may be markers for slave graves but nobody knows for sure. Maybe they’re Davis graves.
All in all, my visit to Davis Cemetery and my reunion with Sharon were a true pleasure. I don’t know enough about Fayette County’s history, despite having lived there most of my life. By visiting this place and researching the lives of those buried here, I feel that I’ve started to remedy that.
In my last two blog posts, I described the wonders of one of the largest cemeteries I’ve ever visited. But in my opinion, tiny Davis Cemetery is just as important.
I think the Davis, Adams, and Johnson families would agree.