Tucked along side the roads in the back country of Georgia are the occasional family cemeteries - often forlornly kept, at least by Midwestern standards, small and mostly crumbling. Whatever families used them are gone now, and the occasional recent burial probably directed by convenience or cost. The one we stopped by here was a Presbyterian cemetery but buy the looks, either the church is gone or its care trust for the place is depleted. And, from what I could tell, most churches here are Baptist and on every long country corner - Presbyterian is rare.
The first thing that struck my eye was the old church pew, placed next to the tree, no doubt for stability. It didn't look like it had been sat on in some time, and a pot of fake flowers. Faded, dirty with the windblown red soil, a quiet witness to a time when someone remembered and honored one of the permanent residents. But it never made it to the grave, it sits in the corner of the pew.
Not far from the pew, a wrought iron boundary fence marks a grave - and one cant help thinking of the incongruity of a fencing in a cemetery - fences usually keep things in or out. Mostly above ground and not set, it sits strangely and out of place. No other fences can be seen.
Scattered about are these rock walls, mostly fallen and strewn haphazardly. Probably old family plots are contained within, an easy way to separate your loved ones from others. Human emotions temporarily evident at a place where deathly equality rules.
A stone long worn of its lettering, this grave is topped by a faded flag. Veteran or patriotic? This is a place where American-Union sentiment is likely low.
Of more import here is the final resting place of Addison W. Davis, of Company G, of the Georgia Cavalry, for the Confederacy.
And not far is the stone and final resting place of a local Georgia hero.
And right in front of the stone is this wooden sign, homemade and now weathered and unreadable.
"Stephen Davis Policeman
Killed 1910 Name On GA Public
Safety Memorial (rest is indecipherable)"
And this was found after a short search for Officer Davis:
From Officer Down Memorial Page
Chief of Police Davis, Deputy Sheriff T.W. Sheffield and Sheriff Pearlie McInness were shot and killed attempting to arrest a suspect on domestic violence charges.
The suspect barricaded himself in his house and held his children hostage. Sheriff McInness called to the suspect to come out but he refused. The Sheriff then asked the suspect to release his children, but the suspect again refused. Sheriff McInness lined up his deputies and started for the house, but before they could reach the house, the suspect opened fire, killing Chief of Police Davis and wounding two other officers. Sheriff McInness order his men to retreat.
Sheriff McInness returned shortly after and his deputies again approached the house. The suspect opened fire again and Deputy Sheffield and Sheriff McInness were killed.
The remaining deputies returned to town with the dead officers and contacted the governor, who ordered out the Albany Guard. They responded to the house with 30 men. As they approached the suspect committed suicide. Chief Davis is buried in Smyrna Presbyterian Cemetery.
If all politics is local, then surely all history is as well. But history can die without nurturing. This is why I walk these places. To give witness, if only momentary, to the lives of people who walked here for a blink of an eye in history and are gone. In this place of weeds, scrub and the slow crumbling of time, rests heroes in the warm embrace of Georgian soil.