A Tie to the Past
Photos, top to bottom: C. Gordon burial site; tabletops in Clowers Cemetery; Fieldstone in Childs Cemetery. Credit: USFWS
Cemeteries located on Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge are a link to the settlers that once lived on this land. Headstones are inscribed with dates leading as far back as the 1700s, and mark the graves of several generations. There are Revolutionary War as well as Civil War veterans' graves, and several cemeteries are regularly visited by family and friends. The gravestones are cultural artifacts that can teach us much about our American forebears.
Thirty two cemeteries have been documented on the Refuge since the late 1990s. Five of these cemeteries are easily accessed by the public. Drop by the Refuge Office to inquire about access to the other cemeteries. The Refuge staff does record newly identified cemeteries periodically and welcomes information about undocumented cemeteries. Questions and comments are welcome at the Refuge Visitor Center or by telephone at 478/986 5441.
Cemeteries on the Refuge
Cemeteries can be a little harder to find than the homesites. The more visible ones have large headstones, table top markers, obelisks, and perhaps wrought iron fences with ornate gates. Other cemeteries may only have a few oval or rectangular indentations or field stones marking the graves. The Refuge's cemeteries are most easily seen during the winter after the understory has lost its leaves. All of the cemeteries share certain characteristics, such as old cedars, large mature oaks, and dogwood, growing within them. They are often located on ridges or hills and have old roadbeds leading to and around them. At least three Refuge cemeteries have limestone or concrete block walls built around several graves. There are indications that several cemeteries had ornamental metal or wrought iron fences around them or around individual family plots. Often ornamental shrubs or trees, such as red cedar, mark the corners or boundary lines of the cemetery.
You can find several different types of grave markers on the refuge. One of the most common markers is an engraved or carved tabletstone. Often these stones are set on a base and accompanied by a footstone that may be carved with initials of the deceased. Another type of marker is a large tabletop stone either set flush on the ground or placed on a stone box or vault. Tabletop stones are rectangular-shaped markers about three feet wide by six feet long and two inches thick. At least one cemetery has vaulted crypts or boxtombs, which are variation of the flat tabletop markers.
Monuments, such as obelisks, are present in several of the refuge's cemeteries. Rectangular rock cairns, seen in the Beeland Cemetery , were occasionally placed over the grave. Uncarved fieldstone markers, sometimes accompanied with smaller footstones, are used in a number of the cemeteries. A number of graves are not marked, but visible only as oval or rectangular indentations that range from three to five feet in length.
Photos, top to bottom: Granite enclosure surrounding Unnamed Cemetery #11; Obelisk, headstone and tabletop in Glover Cemetery; Rock cairn in Island Cemetery. Credit: USFWS
Exploring the Cemeteries
The refuge is open to the public year round for visitation during day-light hours, except during big game hunts.
The refuge boundary is marked with signs and yellow paint.
Some access roads may be closed for small game and turkey seasons or in bad weather.
Contact the refuge office for more information or to report any violations of refuge regulations 478/ 986 5441.
- Enjoy your visit, but respect your surroundings. Use caution when walking to and around the cemeteries.
- Photographing the cemeteries and individual markers and transcribing the inscriptions are encouraged.
- Cleaning the stones and grave rubbings can cause damage and are not permitted.
- Gravestones are easily damaged or uprooted. Jumping, leaping, or swinging from the stones are not permitted. Doing so can result in serious damage or injury to both visitors and stones.
- Children are to be supervised at all times.
- Pack out any garbage and litter.
More information on the cemeteries on the Refuge and the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge Cemeteries brochure is available at the Visitor Center, by phone (478-986-5441), by e-mail (email@example.com) and online (http://www.fws.gov/southeast/pubs/PiedmontCemeteryBrochure.pdf)
Several cemeteries are easily accessible from the Visitor Center, the hiking trails and our Wildlife Drive. For a map of these five cemeteries, see the Piedmont NWR Cemetery Brochure. (http://www.fws.gov/southeast/pubs/PiedmontCemeteryBrochure.pdf)
The Childs Cemetery is located in compartment 19 less than 1/4 mile off Juliette Road , near Falling Creek. In this cemetery there are 15 marked graves with various types of headstones and at least 19 graves with fieldstones as markers. Buried in this cemetery is John Childs Sr. who was a Revolutionary Soldier. John Childs was born in 1751 in Louisa County , Virginia and died May 15, 1825 in Jones County , Georgia . John Childs and his wife Susannah Childs (originally Satterwhite) raised 11 children. Originally there were un-etched markers marking the grave, and on January 22, 2000 his descendants placed a marker on his grave.
Photos, top to bottom: Gun cemetery; Beeland cemetery; Red Cockaded Woodpecker trail cemetery; and Little Rock cemetery. Credit: USFWS
Also known as the Allison Lake Cemetery , this cemetery is located just west of the Refuge Visitor Center and is accessible from the Pine trail. Within this cemetery there are six legible head and foot stones and about twenty graves marked with fieldstones. One of the headstones marks the grave of Daniel Gunn, who was born March 14, 1763 and died August 25, 1825. Daniel Gunn was a Revolutionary War soldier, and together with his wife Susan Street Gunn raised nine children. Descendants of Daniel and Sarah Gunn still reside in Monroe County today.
This cemetery is also known as the Pippins Lake Campground Cemetery . Located 1/2 mile from gate into campground in compartment 19, the cemetery is surrounded by a wrought iron fence and has at least 21 graves. In addition to several graves marked with headstones and footstones, there are also some tabletops made of rocks and bricks. Descendents of the Beeland family still reside in the area today.
Red-Cockaded Woodpecker Trail Cemetery
Located in compartment 14 along the 2.5 mile long Red-Cockaded Woodpecker trail is a burial site surrounded by a block wall. Within the walled site are at least three graves marked by headstones that once had engravings along the face, but time and the elements have made them unreadable.
Little Rock Cemetery
This cemetery is a wonderful example of the cemeteries on the Refuge that do not have improved grave markers. Located in compartment 21 not even 100 feet off the Wildlife Drive, the cemetery has over 20 graves marked only by fieldstones. The graves are oriented in several rows and seem to follow the ridge. For further directions to this and other cemeteries, please ask at the Visitor Center.