Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Maybe this is weird, but I love......old cemeteries.

source: Panoramio

If you're interested in historic places, in particular cemeteries with Confederate graves, here's one way down in south Georgia you may have missed. Read on to the end where you can pick up a great idea to help with restoration.

Last Saturday was a work day for cleanup at the historic West End Cemetery in Quitman, GA. I helped for the first time, and I was so glad I did. This cemetery is a special place to people who grew up in Quitman and attended the schools there as I did. Unfortunately, it has not been well maintained and is in need of restoration and sustainability.

Every year around Memorial Day young students would walk from school to the cemetery carrying flowers brought from home. The children could choose which grave to adorn with their flowers. I always chose the grave of a soldier who shared my birthday. Nearly every person I have a conversation with about the cemetery can tell me about placing those flowers.

The UDC holds a ceremony there each year, and students who are essay winners are recognized. I remember winning one year, then my daughter won when she was growing up. Many others have fond memories of West End Cemetery.

The West End Cemetery was established in 1859 when the Georgia Legislature granted the request to create Quitman as the county seat of Brooks. Many of the town's founders are buried here as well as fourteen unknown Confederate soldiers and veterans of the Civil War.

The cemetery is within the Quitman Historic District, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and sits directly on Highway 84/Screven Street. So, if you've ever been through Quitman on that highway, you've driven past this beautiful cemetery.

The cemetery grounds and damaged graves are presently under restoration. There are 463 graves, 135 of which are unmarked. There are 56 Confederate graves.

Surrounded by beautiful, antique wrought iron fencing and gates, West End Cemetery has many Live Oaks, some believed to be several hundred years old, towering as sentry over the graves.

Many local citizens are working on the restoration project. A map is being created by Walter Romine, research by Danny Taylor and John Romine has uncovered interesting stories, and volunteers from the Museum & Cultural Center and citizens are working to clean up the landscape. You may know some of them: Charlotte Jones, Jean Logan, Susan Radford, Charlie and Sandra Ramsey, Betty Harrison, Cindy Dooly, the Boy Scouts and others. And, more help is needed.

One piece of interesting cemetery trivia: Jesse Wade, born in 1794, was buried at West End in 1872. He was a close friend of David Crockett, with whom he frequently hunted in Tennessee. So, as more stories are revealed, West End Cemetery may be a late bloomer for tourism.

The Brooks County Museum and Cultural Center has taken the lead in the restoration project. Make a thoughtful donation to the West End Cemetery Restoration Project. 

To donate, please send your check to:
 Brooks County M&CC, 121 N. Culpepper St., Quitman, GA 31643

Find more pictures on ExploreGeorgia:
Historic West End Cemetery

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