Archive for December, 2015

2015 in review

December 30, 2015

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

FlowerFest 2015: the Lawton Folks at Black Swamp Baptist Church

December 30, 2015

Can you believe it? We’re at the end of our FlowerFest, even though  we actually finished it on December 9, 2015. I get the blues at Christmas. I probably should finish sending out my Christmas cards, since tomorrow is New Year’s Eve. 

So before I finish the photos, I’ll say that Sugar and I were talking about all the planning and activity that’s involved in a FlowerFest, and I mentioned how all the photos I have of him show him acting with purpose. Deliberately striding. Carefully digging. Turning the poinsettias to their best angle. He agreed that our ritual has purpose, especially to him, because it’s an offering of peace and reconciliation. We don’t know half the people we leave flowers for. We only know OF them because of family history. 

Now to Black Swamp Baptist, which is now known as Robertville Baptist. It’s on Highway 321 on the south side of the Black Swamp, which is written one word – Blackswamp – on some of the early tombstones. 

We meet up with another do-gooder, but we don’t know who it is. Someone has placed a stone for Capt. William Lawton’s third wife, Mary Stone Grimball Lawton Fickling. At this past summer’s reunion on Edisto, we saw some papers related to the inventory made after her death. 

Who did this magnificent marker? Somebody please step up and take credit. 


The church is behind me to my right.



Behold your Lawtons.


Before our FlowerFest started, back in the planning stages, Sugar called his daughter in another state to see if she would put a flower at his father’s grave.  It turns out that she and her family live about 30 minutes away. 
And she did. 

And another generation carries the torch. 


FlowerFest 2015: the Robert Cemetery 

December 25, 2015

We ran out of time. 

Sugar planned a FlowerFest involving the placing of poinsettias at multiple plots in multiple cemeteries. The plan was to swoop in on the first good delivery of poinsettias and to snag about 9 or 10. We started on Sunday, December 6, 2015. 

And ran out of daylight. He had added two more cemeteries in another STATE from where we usually visit. But don’t get excited. We live in a border county, so it’s actually easier than it sounds. 

We start out again on Wednesday, December 9, 2015. The plan is to go to the Robert Cemetery, then to see Richard and his dogs, then to the Robertville Baptist Graveyard. 

The Robert Cemetery near Stafford’s Crossroads

Sugar pointed out a spot that appears to be the remains of a gate support. 

Here’s John Robert, the brother of Sarah Robert who married Joseph Lawton.  


John Robert on our right, & his wife Elizabeth Dixon Robert on our left


Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Dixon

At one time, this plot where John and Elizabeth lie was fenced in. Part of that fence is missing. 



On the way out, we stop to look back at the entry. 

Goodbye, Robert Cemetery, we’ll see you next year. 

FlowerFest 2015: The Woodwards

December 20, 2015

Sugar decided that he wanted to put a Christmas poinsettia at the family plot for his children’s mother’s grandparents. He hadn’t been there in years, even though we pass fairly near to get to his people in Bonaventure. 

We had a hard time finding it. He knew the general area, and said that there was a bench there. After driving up and down every little lane, I finally convinced his that we needed to go to the map at the entrance. We knew that it was 262 in section M, but many individual plot markers were missing, and the signs at the end of each aisle didn’t include 262. 

We found it! In spite of the fact that there is no longer a bench. 


Then something happened to us that has never happened before. 

We ran out of time and daylight with two more cemeteries to visit.

Stay tuned for FlowerFest 2015: Part 2. 

Goodbye, Woodwards. We’ll see you next year. 

FlowerFest 2015: a Visit with the A. R. Lawton Family

December 14, 2015

Sugar and I had already driven by the plot of the Alexander Robert Lawton family, and there were tourists there. We weren’t ready to visit unless we weren’t on display. Even though I always want to shout at people, “See that guy?! He’s a Lawton!”

Because I am cool like that. 


Hey Corinne, I’ve got your back.


Our friend Sarah Alexander Cunningham, who was Corinne’s niece, and the keeper and donater of Lawton artifacts


  • To live in the hearts of our loved ones is not to die. 


Nora is Corinne’s sister.


Henry is Nora’s husband.

There is a Sago Palm in the left front corner of the Lawton plot that is enormous. A couple of close-ups are necessary.  

Let’s go see some new folks, at least new to you and me. They are another connection of Sugar’s. 

Surprised? I know I am. I thought we’d met them all…

FlowerFest 2015: at the Basinger Plot

December 12, 2015

Across the sandy lane from the Starr plot is the Basinger plot. The large central marker is for Sugar’s great-grandfather William Starr Basinger and wife Margaret Roane Garnett Basinger. Sugar’s brother, mother, and grandmother are also there, plus other Basinger relatives. 


My back is to the Starr plot.

This is a very shady lot, and I’ve never gotten a bright picture of it. We have been faithful to these people since we started bringing flowers in 2009. We didn’t bring flowers at Easter this year because I had to work that day, and Sugar doesn’t want to come alone. I still regret that we missed Easter, even though this is a self-imposed duty and we’re not winning any prizes. 


He points at his mother’s and brother’s graves off to our left.


FlowerFest: a Visit at the Starr Plot

December 11, 2015

Sugar and I drove on over to the Starr plot. It’s almost overgrown, but in a good way. The azaleas were getting big again. 


A vine with colorful berries twined its way through the azalea by Adeline’s marker, just to the left inside of the plot.

Ann Pearson Starr and William Lightfood Starr are to the right. She is the sister of Mary “Polly” Pearson Densler. We stopped first at the Densler plot in Laurel Grove. 

Here’s Jane Susan Starr Basinger. 

To Jane’s left is her only daughter, Elizabeth “Georgia” Basinger, who wrote the statement of Sherman’s occupation of Savannah. 

We walk across the lane to the Basinger plot. I stop to look back and can just make out the spot of red poinsettia. 

It’s a beautiful day. Sixty-six degrees, no wind, no rain, and the sun is shining. 

FlowerFest 2015: On to Bonaventure 

December 10, 2015

Sugar and I are out and about to the cemeteries taking the poinsettias for his people. 

I don’t have any people here, although I have been made an honorary Lawton and an honorary Bateson. I’m along for the ride, because the stories, oh, the stories are fascinating. 

We’ve finished up at our first two stops at Laurel Grove and on 36th Street West. Lunch!


the Sentient Bean

We’ve been eating here for years. I can probably count on one hand the other restaurants we’e eaten in here in Savannah.  Be prepared, though. It’s vegetarian. Seriously, you don’t even miss the meat. Their main premise is as a coffee shop. For a long time we didn’t go in here. We were afraid we weren’t cool enough. We’re probably still not cool, but nobody seems to care about our chill factor. 
Then next door to Brighter Day Health Food store. 

It’s time to go to Bonaventure, and on the way, we see the Lawton memorial on our right. It was built in memory of General Alexander Robert Lawton and his daughter Corinne Elliott Lawton by A. R.’s wife, Sarah Alexander Lawton. 


It’s a church now.


Our first top in Bonaventure is at the Corbin plot. Sugar honors the memory of Dr. Tucker and his wife. Dr. Tucker baptized Sugar. Strangely, the Tuckers are buried in the Corbin plot along with Albert Sidney Lawton and his wife Tayloe Corbin. 

The sun is behind us, and we make shadows on the stones. I resolve this by standing on the other side of the stone.

What’s this? We still have lots of flowers, because this day is not over. 

FlowerFest 2015: At Stop Two

December 9, 2015

Here’s Sugar’s relative Jordan.

His great-grandfather was Jefferson Brown.

Jefferson’s father was Winnie Joe Brown.

Winnie Joe’s father was most probably Francis Asbury Lawton. According to the DNA and the family stories, he’s the most likely candidate.

Sugar and Jordan share DNA that goes back to the 1700s to Joseph Lawton. Sugar and Jordan’s mother also share DNA.

By a stroke of pure luck and coincidence, Jordan (in Germany, mind you) mentioned that Jefferson Brown lived in Savannah, and he told this to me the evening before we were to set out on a FlowerFest. I found a city directory listing for 1925 that matched the address that Jordan had from a draft registration. Sugar was agreeable to do a drive-by, since he was the one driving the time machine and he knew the area.


Jefferson Brown lived at 1024 West 36th Street, Savannah, Georgia, in 1925.

We drove down the street to find the house was gone. There was an empty lot. No sign that Jefferson Brown had ever been there.

Just past the empty lot is a church at 1050 West 36th Street.

Directly across the street from where 1024 would have been was 1025. It is a more modern construction, so I’m guessing that any houses westward from 1024 and 1025 were demolished or removed, and new structures were built, including the church.

The houses at the corner where the street sign is look to be of a vintage similar to the ones where Edith Barnes lived. Edith was Sugar’s grandmother’s housekeeper, and she lived on the east side of town. Her area has been gentrified.

So let’s guess that Jefferson Brown lived in a house that was styled much like this.

And let’s also imagine that Sugar’s grandfather’s family, whose family line had been in Savannah since the mid-1800s, was living on the east side, while Jordan’s great-grandfather was living on the west side about the same time.

But nobody knew about this connection until a DNA match responded to Jordan’s inquiry.

Sometimes the puzzles just work themselves, with properly placed nudging.

You know what this means? We have to find a Sanborn Fire Insurance Map.


It would have been helpful to have checked the Sanborn Fire Insurance Map before we went to Savannah and before I wrote this blog post…

We were on the wrong section of 36th. The 1916 map shows Lot 1024 to be across Ogeechee Road. We were on the section between 1046 and 1047.

1024 West 36th Street, SAV




FlowerFest 2015: Stops One and Two

December 8, 2015

We’re off on our annual poinsettia-placing to Savannah. 




From SC into GA

Sugar and I head into Laurel Grove first. It’s on the west side of town, so we approach it first once we cross over the bridge. 

Our goal is to start with the Densler and Bateson plots, then finish up at the Lawton-Jones mausoleum. As we drove along the lane, we got visually side-tracked by a limping dog, who limped along across the lane in front of us and joined another dog. Then a little shepherd mix PUPPY popped out of the underbrush, right by a black dog that might have been his mother. We had no food in the car to give them. It was all disconcerting. 

The dogs melted into the underbrush, but the puppy came out to bark at us. 

There was really nothing we could do about the dogs, except leave them. 

We parked back of the Densler mausoleum and walk around to the front. Mrs. Mary Densler is buried here, and she is William Starr Basinger’s Aunt Polly. More correctly, I believe she is the sister of his mother’s mother Ann Pearson Starr. 

Some of the bricks look clean and repointed. 

We walk over a few lanes to the Bateson plot. This lot is special to us. We discovered in 2014 that there were Batesons right here in Savannah in an unmarked plot, and Sugar ordered a stone for them. There are 10 people buried here in a lot that can hold 12. The last burial was in 1879, that of the child, Thomas Remington Bateson. No one was left to mark the burial place until 135 years later when a Sugar came along. 

I always want to just sit with these people. I wonder what they would think of this: the picture-taking, the blogging, the marking of the plot. And the automobiles, the traffic, the sounds of the interstate nearby, the planes overhead. Every vehicle was pulled by animal power when these folks were alive. I want to talk to them, or actually, simply to listen to what they have to say. This family breaks my heart. 

It’s time to go to Jones-Lawton. 

This crypt is on 4 plots, if I understand it correctly. There are 4 graves buried outside the crypt, Sugar’s aunt Emily Augusta Lawton, and his first cousins Mary Garrard Mackin and her brother William, and William’s wife Alice Knott Garrard. 

Inside are at least 18 people. The story goes that it was built by Augustus Seaborn Jones for himself and his wife Emily Robert Jones. Here’s where things get convoluted. Their daughter Elizabeth “Bessie” Jones married Dr. William Seabrook Lawton (they are Sugar’s great-grandparents).  Their son Edward Percival Lawton (he is Sugar’s grandfather) and daughter Gulielma Lawton Read (she married Abram Carrington Read) are buried there, but not their spouses. Another daughter of Edward Percival is there: Leslie Lawton Read, who married a different branch of the Reads. Leslie’s daughter Margaret Louisa Read is there, and she took the last spot. (Another daughter of Edward Percival’s is Emily Augusta Lawton, already mentioned.)

So many Lawtons, so little time. 


Sugar spots a rainbow effect over Jones-Lawton.


We walk around the grounds, noting that the crepe myrtles could be cut back yet again. 


From the rear

It’s time now to go somewhere we’ve never gone, literally and figuratively. 

The day before, I had an online conversation with another of Sugar’s Lawton cousins who mentioned that his grandfather Jefferson Brown, a Lawton descendant, lived at 1024 36th Street. I offered to go by to see if the house still stood. 
His name is Jordan, and he tested with 23&me. He’s definitely a Lawton. 

You can read his story at the 23&me website.