Sunday, March 2, 2014

What will I find?

A hunter reported finding a cemetery in a neighboring county that is in the middle of 900 acres of woodlands owned by a Mennonite farmer.  The farmer leases the land to a hunting club.  This property is remote and heavily wooded but right now the woods are quite easy to navigate because it isn’t spring yet.  Having said that, I have already been out there twice looking for this cemetery spending about 2 hours each time.  I even had an aerial photograph to use.  No luck.  Just talked with the hunter again today.  He left out one very important piece of information; the markers are buried under several inches of dirt and leaves and are not visible.  I wish I had known that the first time I went out there!  He felt something hard under his foot and dug a bit when he struck marble.  He says there are several confederates, a Georgia governor and a child buried out there.  He thinks about 6 or 7 graves.  Since it has been a year since he saw the graves they are covered back up again.  This time I will be going out with not only the machete and chainsaw I had the first time but now with rakes and shovels. 

I looked through every one of Find A Grave’s “famous” burials in the state of Georgia (682) and there is no record of a Georgia governor being buried in this area so I am very excited to see who is out there.  This cemetery is not accessible and the land owner will not grant access so it is very important for me to get good photographs.  I am also going to try and talk the hunters that have access to this property into building a simple rail fence around the area to mark it.  I am also going to try and get the markers upright if I can.  If I can’t I will at least dig them out so that they are visible.  I am probably going to have to wait until Tuesday afternoon to go out there because it is supposed to rain on Monday.  After that we will be back down in the 40s which means I will have to wait until it warms back up a bit.  Two or more hours in the woods when it is 40 degrees isn’t my idea of a good time. 

I am very exciting and I will be posting pictures of what I find. 


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis


  1. So glad you're checking this out! My family (McMurrains & Motley's) have been in Georgia since the 1700's, so I'll be watching to see what you find! :)

  2. How exciting! Many of us, I'm sure, are cheering you on from our computers.

  3. I am excited for you! That sounds like a very fun trip. I have a GPS on my iPhone and I have been locating places I want to find again by recording their positions with the GPS coordinates. I have only done two so far but I do plan to do all future ones I visit.

    I thought the landowners had to make the cemetery available at least once a year.

  4. Good luck! Sounds like a very nice thing for you to do--rewarding to you and to any who will benefit. I found the following on the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. I thought these cemeteries were open to the public for access at least once a year. Boy, was I wrong!

    "How do I gain access to a cemetery on private property?
    If this is not your family's cemetery and it is not available to public access through an existing road, then we recommend getting permission from the landowner before crossing private property. Not only is this courteous but it also avoids trespassing. However, please be aware that landowners are not required under any state law to grant access to persons who are not heirs or descendants of the persons buried in the cemetery.

    "If you are a descendant or heir of someone buried in the cemetery, there is no specific statute that addresses right of entry to cemeteries on private property. However, case law in Georgia has been interpreted to mean that the heirs of those buried in the cemetery have an implied easement on the property. The easement gives the heirs the right to prevent disturbance to the graves and the right of ingress and egress for taking care of the burial plots. However, even descendants or heirs should ask the landowner for permission to come onto the property and discuss notification of intent to visit, the frequency of visitation, and passageway to be used."

    Joan Holloway

    1. The info you quoted from the DNR is the exact info I give people asking for info about Georgia. I link to that page all the time. That is way it is so important for people who can get access to take photographs.