St Clair Cemetery, Mt Lebanon, Allegheny Co, PA

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: Bitten While Hiking to Shoot a Family

My love for history and genealogy has led to some interesting field trips around the area in which I live.  As a volunteer for Find-a-Grave, I get requests from time to time for photographs of long departed loved ones.  I don't know these genealogy buffs who submit the requests, but I enjoy the hunt.  I always learn something new.

For instance, take a closer look at one of the recent requests to come my way.  It seemed easy enough.  All the lady wanted was some pictures of a couple of gravestones in the Old Landrum Family Cemetery in Fayette Co, GA. 

Looking it up seemed easy to do.  Here it was.  And then I got lost. 

The description of the location was confusing as I am not an "oldtimer" of the area.  The directions said, "accessible from the abandoned section of Peachtree Parkway."  Hmm, abandoned Peachtree Parkway?

One fine, steamy day last week, I took a quick drive to the area I thought could be the abandoned Peachtree Parkway.  Well, the area is all built up and even has an elementary school on it. So, if it was it, it's not now.

Being an enterprising young grasshopper, I popped into the first funeral home I saw.  The kindly gentleman asked (in a oh-so-sorry-for-your-loss-gentle-voice) if he could be of service.  I told him  I was looking for a graveyard.  One can imagine the looks on the faces as I beamed and said I wanted to shoot someone.  Oops, clarification was needed.  I wanted to photograph someone who was buried in a local cemetery and I couldn't find it.

Well, they couldn't either.  The lady who was happily and joyfully assisting me at this point called City Hall to see what they knew.  Nothing.  But, they knew someone who would know. 

My new buddy and I were looking at maps of the development of Peachtree City when she spotted an area called "Landrum's Mill Pond."  About that time, the lady at City Hall called back and told us she has spoken to someone else at the library who said the cemetery was down a well worn path through the woods.  She even had directions!

"Go up Hwy 74.  Turn onto Peachtree Parkway, and turn left onto World Dr.  Go to the cul-de-sac and park.  Walk down the path and it will be in the woods."

A quick driveby told me it was going to be a little harder than that, so I went home and got my energetic fun loving family and dogs.  As usual, they were eager to assist :).

Hiking, we went down the path which quickly showed evidence of asphalt and old faded lines.  Eureka, it's the abandoned Peachtree Parkway that we didn't know existed!  Hmm.  No graveyard seen here.  Let's start taking some of the paths off of this path.

At the second path I sent the kids and dogs down, they started yelling.  "Come quick! It's a cemetery."

There sat the old Landrum Family Cemetery in a nicely fenced in area. 

As I surveyed the area, I could see a spot where the trees were younger.  Could this have been the site of the family home of Jeptha Landrum?  He was the owner of the land from around 1825 or so, and is reported to have assisted the Creek Indians in their removal after the Creek Nation signed the land over to the state of Georgia.  The Landrum family owned quite a large plantation and Landrum served the new county as a Judge and also as sheriff.

I don't know if the clearing with the young trees was the house site, but I can imagine the site if it had been.  The cemetery would have been down the hill off of the dirt road leading to the house in an area close enough to visit, but not close enough to be disturbed by the creek or mill pond.  The mill pond is still there and is further down the path from the cemetery.

Back in the cemetery, I started taking shots of the graves.  Some were legible and others were not.  There were a number of broken stones that appear to once have had markings on them.  Others had succumbed to the elements of time.  Still, other spots were quite sunken.  Could these be the slaves indicated by the Landrum family to be buried there?  Early tax records show the Landrum family had somewhere around a dozen slaves or so around the 1850 time frame.  Of course, these same records indicate taxes on the land were less than $1.  Oh, if only I could have that tax bill today!

We wiped off some of the stones as I snapped away.  Some of the markings appear to be gone.  Others, I can probably make out enough to match them with the index of the cemetery put online by a Landrum family member.

I sent some of the pictures to a local photographer friend who tried to bring out the details for me.  She suggested I go back and take some more shots for her to play with.

I plan to go back out there in the fall to retake some shots.  Photographs of old graves can provide some more clues if the lighting is different (hence, a different time of year and time of day).  I will also take some water with me to sprinkle on the graves.

Yes, I will go out there again on another hike.  But I think I will wait until the chigger bites heal!

Ahh, genealogy.  It's fun hiking around the past, even if the present bites you.

Note:  Many thanks to the wonderful folks at the Carmichael-Hemperley Funeral Home and Crematory on Senoia Rd in Peachtree City.  They were super as they spent about an hour with me trying to find the old cemetery.  I appreciate their kindness!

©2010 AS Eldredge


Leslie Ann said...

Sounds like a wonderful fun adventure!

I remember quite a few years ago while I was still in Idaho a cousin and I went through the cemeteries getting rubbings of headstones. Well silly me wearing flip flops (I still call them thongs) stepped on a stinging nettle -- twice!. I broke out in hives that lasted for weeks!

hummer said...

Ooh I remember the chigger bites. They itch it seem for-ever (drawn out for emphasis) Broken headstones just make me sad.

Marian Pierre-Louis said...

Great story! Thanks for sharing it!

topshot2015 said...

haha thats my family. The Landrums Have been in Georgia since, the 1500s. My family still lives there today, in the Roswell area. Right next to Chadwicks store, witch my other Great grand father opened, washington Chadwick......

C.L. said...

These are my ancestors as well.

Judge Jeptha Landrum was my 5X great-grandfather.

Thank you so much for the pictures and story behind obtaining them.

Christopher A. Landrum (Austin, TX)