One day I’m at the Laundromat, and while I’m waiting for the clothes to dry, I call Mama Florrie to say hello. She said, “When are you coming?”
When your mama calls, you should go. I had the rest of the day off, and I stuttered in surprise that I could be there in two hours.
If you use www.ancestry.com to search for South Carolina Death Records, like I do, you can find some old certificates that show the deceased is buried in Lawton Cemetery or Col. Lawton’s Cemetery or Lawton Pl. Cemetery.
Where is that, exactly? There’s no Lawton Cemetery on the map. Don’t confuse it with Lawtonville Cemetery, which I’ve already written about.
Lawtonville is west of Estill. It’s a well-kept cemetery, and seems to be predominantly white. If there are black folks buried there, I don’t know about it.
There are several cemeteries in this area that are divided by race. Black on one side of the highway, white on the other. White inside the fence, black outside the fence. The cemetery that I want to find is black.
So I asked Mama Florrie, in a little interview of sorts.
I had several people to ask her about, with the last names that were the same as her mother’s and father’s and husband’s families. There were some people that she said she did not know. I’m always puzzled by that for in my world it seems that she should know everyone and their dog in that little town. I don’t know if it means that she knew them once but forgot them, or really just doesn’t know of them, like I didn’t know about a cousin in my little town because we are related so far back that we didn’t know of the connection until I found it earlier this year.
I asked her where Lawton Cemetery was.
She told me, and Lordy, I have a hard time understanding her. She didn’t have her teeth in, and I don’t hear very well, plus she speaks with a lowcountry brogue that I can’t translate very well.
She said, in her low voice, “Yoo goo to tha foork in tha rood.”
YoursTruly: “The fork in the road? Where’s that?”
Mama: “It’s ovuh there.”
YoursTruly: “Goodman Road?”
Mama: “Noo, not Goodman Road. The foork in tha rood.”
YoursTruly: “Where’s that? Robertville?”
Mama (becoming exasperated): “Nooo! Not Rohbertville!”
I look to her daughter Rose for help.
Rose: “Mama, what fork in the road?”
Mama (starting over): “You goo tord Rohbertville, and turn at the foork in the road.” Here she raised her left hand, and placed it near her right shoulder, as though she were preparing to say the pledge of allegiance by placing her left hand over her right shoulder. The problem with this is that she was pointing north, and Robertville was south of where we were.
YoursTruly: “Miz Florrie, I’m lost. I don’t know a fork in the road.”
Mama: “You goo too the foork in the rood, and turn there. It’s between the house and the rood.”
YoursTruly: “There’s a cemetery at Pleasant HIll where Rose and Miss Yvonne and Sugar and I went a few years ago, but that’s not Lawton land.”
Mama & Rose (excitedly): “Yes, that’s it!”
YoursTruly: “But that was Robert land. It’s across from Black Swamp Plantation.”
Mama & Rose: “No, that was Lawton land.”
Rose: “Mama, that house not there any more. It was torn down. Anna Marie used to live there.”
Mama: “That’s right.”
(Note: I have never seen a house on that property. It must have been years and years ago, and according to some old records, it was where Henry Martyn Robert grew up.)
After a few more questions, I went on my way. The cemetery in question just happened to be on my way home. We’d had a lot of rain for days, and there was so much muck in the lane into the property that I had to turn back. I was afraid Ole Yeller would get stuck, and there’s spotty cell phone reception.
Sugar and I decided to see for ourselves.
A few days later, we went on a mission.
We found the cemetery we’d been to before. There’s no sign, and it appears to be on private property, but still, here we go.
Does anyone see anything wrong with this photo? I knew that something was not right, but didn’t figure it out for a few more photos.
I have it on a “fish-eye” setting. Someday perhaps, I will learn to check the setting before I start snapping photos.
Sugar was going along, very efficient-like, because he had other things he wanted to accomplish that day, like go to the Bostick Cemetery and go see Richard, who we heard bought a house. An old house, but a house, nonetheless.
I’m muttering right about here, because I can’t figure out what is wrong with the camera. The image looks completely wrong, and I still haven’t discovered that, once again, it’s the operator and not the equipment.
OK, now here we go. Wrongs are righted.
There’s a family tradition that says that there’s a McPherson link to Miz Florrie’s family, but I haven’t seen proof of that. Here’s a few McPhersons just because.
Now that I’ve gone back and looked at these photos again, I realize that I didn’t get any of the old headstones. If I had gotten a name and a death date before 1955, I could go to www.ancestry.com and compare them to the actual death certificates and see where that burial place is. But I didn’t, so I can’t, and I’ll need to go back. I should do that right now, but other things are calling me, so perhaps I can go tomorrow. But tomorrow is the 3rd Saturday, and Georgia Historical Society is open. Decisions, decisions.
We managed to get out of that cemetery without seeing snakes or poison ivy, and we headed over to Bostick Cemetery.
A few years ago, Richard’s wife Wanda died. There was no where to bury her. I had never considered that that would be an issue, not having a place to go. It seems that all the local cemeteries in that area were on private land, and you need permission to bury someone there.
Richard secured a spot for her at the Bostick Cemetery, outside the fence.
The first time that we went to Bostick Cemetery, we were surprised to see that there was another burial area down a lane next to the cemetery, outside the fence. We roamed around the area, and Sugar found a headstone dedicated to someone named Charles, a faithful servant of B. R. Bostick. I got some good photos then, which were later lost in a computer meltdown, because at that time I didn’t back up anything. The headstone for Charles seems to be the farthest headstone to the left, back in the left corner as you are facing the cemetery. At the time, Sugar supposed that this was a black burial ground.
On another occasion, Mama Florrie told me that her mother Alice was buried at Bostick, but she didn’t know where. Alice doesn’t have a headstone.
We pull into the lane at Bostick, and I stop the van to take a photo of the fenced cemetery.
Now we look left of the cemetery to little lane that leads to the area outside the fence.
When we get to the area outside the fence, we are surprised to see that someone has installed a chain link fence along the lane side. Just one side is fenced, not the entire cemetery. I park at the end of the chain link. Something that strikes me odd is that the headstones face AWAY from the approach to the cemetery and the fence. I believe for the most part they are facing east.
I start taking photos, and while I did not get all of the headstones, I got a great many that seemed relevant to Mama Florrie’s family. Some are not relevant at all to me, but that’s perhaps because I don’t know of possible family connections. It is said that everyone in the village is related, and I suppose that’s highly possible.
Here is the headstone for Charles. It’s much more discolored than it was the last time I photographed it, and I can’t make out all the inscription. I suppose I will have to go back when Sugar is not so twitchy, and do a rubbing.
At another back corner is Richard’s wife Wanda. The cemetery starts to slope away at this point into a swampy area. I’m at the farthest point away from the van on a diagonal like across the cemetery.
And when we get back to the van, there’s a most unusual insect on the gatepost. I’ve never seen one like this. He (She?) is very colorful and vibrant-looking.
So that’s our day in the cemeteries. I can’t say as we solved anything. We still don’t know where Lawton Cemetery is, or at least we can’t confirm that Mama Florrie is right, and really, why wouldn’t she be?
All the images that are imprinted with http://ruthrawls.wordpress.com are posted to www.findagrave.com under Bostick Cemetery in Hampton County. I created memorials for all of them except Calvin Eady, so I added his headstone photo to the existing memorial.
Where’s Lawton Cemetery? Anyone?
I saw on www.findagrave.com that a person had added name to a cemetery named “Lawton”. When I contacted that person to find out where the cemetery is, she gave me GPS coordinates which led me to an area way west of Garnett on Augusta Stagecoach Road. Way, way, far away from the village, so who would choose to be buried out in the middle of nowhere? I looked at the satellite images online and it doesn’t appear to be a graveyard. When I contacted her again online for driving directions, she said that she had not been there, but hoped to find it when she got to SC again.
Oh no. Don’t believe what you read on the internet, and don’t follow someone’s GPS coordinates off into the swamp.
Now where to look??