When we drove down to the beach last month, we took a different route on the back roads, seeking new scenery and dangling predicates. Bunica mentioned a cemetery she accidentally discovered while driving around the state with her sister, Sanda. Of course, I couldn’t resist….. and Patrick was game.
The tombstones, lacy iron fencing, and vernacular-laden light evoked Lousiana, Duke University gothic, and Chip Cooper photographs. Dazed from driving, we wandered around, reading the stories etched in stone and marveling over the meanings.
“Loved and Lost”, an anthem.
What happened in 1887?
The Alexander family tree grows thick through these parts. On November 11, 1887, Clara L. Alexander died. Two weeks later, on November 26, Millara L. Alexander passed away. It seems they were sisters, perhaps stricken with influenza or a communicable disease that tore through a family home. The dates of their births are not noted on the tombstone, so its hard to tell if they died as infants or adults.
The tombstone of Ira Caldwell, whose life remains a mystery.
It seems Ira Caldwell was the daughter of John D. Alexander Sr. (1829-1901) and Rebecca Lawson Alexander (1836-1894).
Spiders go about their business of spinning and trapping amid the tombs
A Christmas tree left behind for one who left this earth still loving Christmas.
The sun singled out the solitary stocking.
The tombstone of Mary Eliza Jane Smith, who passed away on October 7, 1839.
Details from the tombstone of Mary Eliza Jane Smith.
The tombstone monument of Emma L. Reeves, wife of Levi Reeves.
There is a love story swirling around the tombstone of Emma L. Reeves, the young bride of Levi Reeves who lived from 1841 only to die at the tender age of sixteen on July 10, 1857. What drove him to build a monument so beautiful it belongs in a museum? Who was the sculptor of this stone portrait?
Emma Reeves gazing skyward.
Born to Adolphus Sellers Cade and Thurza Jane (Catline) Cade, who remained residents of Dayton throughout life, Emma’s three siblings played a prominent role in her life- and in the the life of her husband. Her brother, John Catline Cade (1843-1875), maintained a large plantation in Dayton, Alabama. Her sister, Carrie Cade, married Eddie Prince, while her other sister, Adolpha Cade, married Col. Levi Reeves after Emma’s death.
John Catline Cade was the owner of a large plantation near Dayton and had many slaves. He served as adjutant in the Confederate States Army and after the war was appointed probate judge of Marengo County in 1867. He was married at Tuscaloosa, Ala., December 24, 1864, to Sallie Jemison, daughter of William Henry and Elizabeth Armlntine / Jemison of Tuscaloosa.
Emma was married for less than six months before she died- not long enough to leave Levi with an heir or a child. Perhaps the monument was the idea of the Cade family?
Young Ira A. McKnight almost survived the seasons to live a full year- from July 1892 to the beginning of June 1893. I wondered what claimed her life- what illness or what accident would be likely in June in the 1890’s?
After using the GPS function on my IPhone camera, I noted the latitude and longitude and made use of Google Maps to identify the location. The name of the cemetery is Little Flanders Field Cemetery (a.k.a. Dayton Cemetery), and it lies on the left bank of Highway 25 just past Little Flanders Road in Dayton, Alabama. Make the drive through Marengo County on a beautiful day which beckons every linger-loving bone in your body to stop and sit a spell.
NOTE: I have been informated that this cemetery is called Dayton Cemetery. Little Flanders Field cemetery is a separate cemetery next to Dayton for African Americans. Dayton Cemetery is the white cemetery with all the ornate headstones shown above. There are three separate cemeteries adjoining one another in this area.