Save the written word…

Proof that preserving the written word is important……

Family cousin’s letters sent to my Mom tell a story possibly not recorded anywhere else. Before reading these letters, I never thought to question that my Great Grandmother Melvina and her Father, David H. Smith were buried anywhere other than in the Pinehurst City Cemetery in Pinehurst, Georgia. After all, their headstones are situated there, right with the family. According to the letters, in the 1980’s, at a reunion the cousins discussed that it would be nice for their Grandmother to rest with her husband, their Grandfather Charles Reynolds, in town. His second wife, my Great Grandmother’s sister, Paulina, lies beside him in town. I can only imagine the discussion. As the cousin’s letter states, David and Melvina had been dead about 100 years. Most likely they were not embalmed and were buried in a wooden box. Returned to dust. So only the headstones were moved.

Also mentioned was my Grandmother Ida’s twin.  This is the only “documentation” I have of a twin.  My Aunt told me a few things that I wish I had delved into further.  One was that she had been told that her Mother had a twin that died at birth.

A quick search turns up a Rackley Family Cemetery matching the physical description given the road and creek. However no Smiths or Reynolds listed as buried there.  Yet a note on Find A Grave indicates this cemetery is also known as the William Smith Family Cemetery.  Hmmm….William Thornton Smith is my 3x Great Grandfather.  He died some time after 1860 in Dooly County, Georgia.  Census records indicate he lived in the  Montezuma/Byromville area.  Only two photographs are posted on the site and not of specific graves.  I contacted the person who posted them.  She told me her relationship to someone buried there but she’s not sure how the Smith’s tie in.  

Brain cells start tingling!  The search is on!  An search shows Jonas Rackley for whom the cemetery is named was married to David H. Smith’s sister, Susan.  She is my 3x great Aunt.  Digging further, most of the others listed as buried there are somehow related, some by blood, some by marriage.  I was able to add a few more names by finding death certificates of spouses indicating the burial location was Rackley Cemetery.  

Find A Grave was able to help keep the relationship between the two cemeteries by designating Great Grandma Melvina’s headstone in Pinehurst City Cemetery as a cenotaph, a momument to someone buried elsewhere. I am hoping they will do the same for Great Great Grandpa David.

All this brings me back to the letter I referenced in my last post.  The letter Ida wrote to Malcolm describing the family outing on July 4, 1922.  I feel certain the creek is Hogcrawl which runs near Rackley Cemetery.  

“We left here early and went to the river.  Rather a creek that runs into the Flint.  Carl and Aunt Paulina fished some.  The creek is on my Grandfather Smith’s old plantation.  Where my Mother and Aunt Paulina lived.  I don’t remember going to Grandfather’s but the older ones do.  They were like kids let loose again. 

After lunch, we rested and talked and talked.  You got your share of it!  Of course I was teased all day.  Claude slipped his arm through mine and we took a good long walk and talk.  He is the best old brother in the world.  So like my Father.  Then we de-camped and went by the old cemetery where Mother and most of our people are buried.  We cleaned it up and put out fresh flowers.  Then on by our old home place, where I was born. We stopped and went all around in the yard.  Then down to the barn that opens into a pasture.  Claude had to see if the old farm gate he built was still there.  They were all so funny and had such fun yelling out, “do you remember the time….”  Of course, I did not remember much.  I was just three years old when I left there.  But they told me and showed me where I learned to walk and where I fell down.  Carl had to take a look at the old “wash hole” down in the pasture.” 

I have a bit of work to do.  Land records for this area haven’t been digitized on yet.  So a visit to the NC History Library is in store when things open back up.  Hopefully I will also be able to find out a bit more about the lives of the people buried there as well.   But for now things feel at bit more centered as notes left by others point to that speck on the map holding some very important history.

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