Archive for December, 2019

A Mystery at Laurel Grove Cemetery: Michael and Ann Densler

December 30, 2019

We took our usual Christmas tour of Laurel Grove Cemetery when we placed poinsettias this year.

We stopped at the Densler plot, and something seemed a bit off. There was a stone that we didn’t recall seeing in the past. It was newly repaired, and Leslie conjectured that the old stone had sunk far down into the dirt and was recently lifted and repaired.

Something still seemed off to me. So after we got back home, I hunkered down with the laptop and the iPhone, and I looked back at old posts about when we would have taken a poinsettia there to the Densler mausoleum to see if I could find a photo for reference. I also made findagrave memorials for Michael and Ann since they didn’t have one in Laurel Grove. The stone had some cracks along the death date so I pulled up ancestry and familysearch for reference.

I found a photo all right. The stone didn’t exist in 2015.

In 2019…

In 2015…

I went to the city of Savannah cemetery database, and there is no listing for either Michael or Ann Densler. If you scroll to the end of the list, there is “unidentifiable remains” in lot 481 interred in September 2019. But Michael and Ann died in the early 1800s.

Guess which lot we are at?

The next logical step was to do a findagrave search for other Densler people.

They are listed in Gravel Hill cemetery in Bloomingdale, Chatham County, Georgia. There are photos of the exact same stone, pre-repaired. The breaks are at the exact same spot.

It appears to me that the unidentified remains re-interred in Lot 481 are indeed Michael and Ann Densler. Why were they moved? And who accomplished this?

FlowerFest 2019: On to Robertville

December 25, 2019

It’s another bright, sunny December day. Just perfect for winding down our FlowerFest. We’re back at Robert Cemetery, and we’ve stopped at John and Elizabeth Dixon Robert.

Then onward to Robertville Baptist. It was originally known as Black Swamp Baptist. You might remember that the original plantation owned by Zephaniah Kingsley was called Black Swamp, and I’ve been tracking the associated families ever since I found the plats and records in July 2019 at the South Carolinians Library.

We’re done! See you next year!

FlowerFest 2019: Mary Cowper Stiles Low

December 25, 2019

I was a Girl Scout for a while. I started with the Brownies, then advanced to whatever level was next. I didn’t advance further, and I’m not sure why.


I’ve been following the Andrew Low House Facebook page, when this notification popped up. The name Cowper caught my eye.

Part of her online biography says that she was the mother-in-law of Juliette Gordon Low, which is true, but Mary died in 1863, and her son William Mackay Low married Juliette Gordon in 1886. So technically true, but Juliette was 3 years old when Mary Low died.

We got distracted at Laurel Grove and didn’t stop at the Low plot, even though it was the next lane over from the Mackay plot. We did remember to stop at the Andrew Low House.

We didn’t go in since the day was getting late and we had a bit of a drive home, but I snapped a few photos of the outside.

A nice French couple stopped me to ask if the house was closed. “But, is it closed?” I showed them the sign on the front gate that said they could enter the house from either side on Macon or Charlton Street. The front steps were blocked off with a rope.












It’s 1:03PM!

We head home for cats and Carolina, finished with the FlowerFest in Savannah. But there’s next week to finish up at the Robertville Baptist and the Robert Cemetery in Robertville, SC. See you then!

FlowerFest 2019: Corinne

December 19, 2019

No FlowerFest at Bonaventure would be complete without stopping to say hello to Corinne Elliott Lawton.

With that last poinsettia, we’ve finished with Savannah. There is, however, one more place I want to see.

Can you guess? Here’s a clue.

FlowerFest 2019: the Starr People

December 19, 2019

There is something magical when the winter sunshine glows on the Starr plot.

These people were buried originally in the plot at Laurel Grove where the McLaws are.

I have photographed these stones from surely every angle. Wait! If I had a selfie stick, I could get some elevated shots. Or a drone? I might suppose a drone is not allowed, plus there are all the trees that would get in the way.

It hardly matters. The light here, midday in winter, is perfect.

FlowerFest 2019: on to Bonaventure

December 18, 2019

It’s our annual self-imposed poinsettia placing. We’ve finished at Laurel Grove and driving across Savannah.

We pass by Purrvana, a cat cafe, and ohmyheart bestill, they are open! But knowing that we have to finish this project without melting outward towards other distractions, we press on.

Leslie and I want to find Clermont Huger Lee again and to find Anna Hunter for the first time. We stop at the map at the entrance of Bonaventure to find the location of Anna. We already know that she is in lot A-374 because I have screenshot her memorial on findagrave.

Leslie says that I say “Colquitt” wrong. I say “Kohl-quit”, but he says it is pronounced “KALL-quit”. This is yet another’s example of someone struggling with pronunciation when we (I) have only read the word. How do I know who is wrong or right? I ask a local.

Clermont Lee is linked to the family tree of Basil Cowper. I’ve been fleshing out that tree since I found him mentioned in a plat that is in the Lawton family collection in the South Caroliniana Library. There is so much to write about. I’m afraid I will run out of time.

After driving around a bit, we find Annuh Hunna.

There are a lot of azaleas along the front of the lot that block some of the markers.

As usual, I take photos of everyone in the plot.

And on to the Basingers.

This always looks so beautiful. Let’s take a break before we go to the Starr plot.

FlowerFest 2019: On to the Batesons and Lawtons

December 17, 2019

We’re finished up with the Mackay and the related families at Laurel Grove, and headed over to see the Batesons.

After we’ve finished visiting Miss Hattie.

Miss Hattie Colquitt lived in Bluffton, where Leslie grew up. He would have been about 15 when she died. He said that she had a lending library in her home.

We drive to the end of the lane and saw that the Densler mausoleum’s refurbishment was complete. We once took a poinsettia there for Leslie’s great-grandfather’s aunt Mary “Polly” Densler.

There was an old marker there that has been newly refurbished. Michael Densler and Ann Densler reside there. We don’t know them. This is a bit baffling. We don’t remember this stone at all. It’s like it just sprang out of the ground, although clearly it didn’t.

Then to the Batesons at Lot 322. The military markers are for Christopher and Thomas Bateson. The marker in the middle is one that Leslie commissioned when we first discovered that this plot wasn’t marked.

Over to Jones-Lawton.

This is the mausoleum that suffered damage to one of the facades after Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Leslie’s cousin Emily spearheaded a renovation project that was quite impressive in scope.

There’s a bumper crop of acorns, and the chipmunks and squirrels have been having a feast.

Mary Garrard Mackin has been hosting a dinner party on her headstone.

Once again, quick as a wink, we are finished at Laurel Grove. We’ll head across town and see you at Bonaventure.

FlowerFest 2019

December 13, 2019

We are on our game this year. Publix had lots of beautiful poinsettias, and we were mentally ready to sally forth.

I had a special request for when we went to Laurel Grove. I wanted to find the grave of Eliza McQueen Mackay. A little homework in the form of an internet search led me to findagrave.

We’re off!

We have 8 poinsettias in the back of the car. Leslie got a new-to-him car this past summer which was great because the van’s traveling days are numbered.

It was so easy to find Eliza and her family. The plot is directly across from the McLaws. The McLaws got their plot from the Starrs and Basingers when they outgrew their plot in Laurel Grove and were reinterred in Bonaventure. We were right there all along.

Sometimes when I have found a family, I tend to greet them. Hello, Sarah! Hello, Catherine! I’ve read about you! I know who you are!

I try to make my way methodically thru the plot so that I don’t miss anyone.

Do you see this? Her middle name is Couper!

I have had a suspicion that Cowper might be spelled Couper by some sources. There was a Cooper family in my hometown, and my mom pronounced it “KUP-per”, so of course I told her she was wrong. It’s KOO-per, ma, KOOOOO-per. Mom is possibly right again.

Here’s Eliza. She has a head stone and a foot stone. Apparently she has fans because of a book written by Eugenia Price.

There’s William, a child of hers, but no Robert and no Mary Anne.

Now it is bonus time…

I squealed a little. I wasn’t looking for her, yet here she is.

Mary Anne Cowper, daughter of Basil Cowper and Mary “Polly” Smith Cowper.

There’s a empty spot next to Mary Anne and also what is most probably a baby’s grave.

I take a quick look across to the left into the next plots and I think there are more relatives there

On the other side of the Mackay plot, you already can guess that there are more relatives in the next 2 plots. Leslie already said to me when he saw me stepping in to lot, Now we’re not going to take photos of all these.

After all, we are in a mission and this was supposed to be a quick stop to say hello.

Then he found Anna Hunter’s family’s markers. She was known as Annuh Hunna. She was a force of nature and was on the forefront of preservation in Savannah.

I did a quick check on findagrave and found that she is at Bonaventure.

We’re not finished at Laurel Grove by any means, but let’s take a break here.

Good night, Mackay/Cowper/Hunter/Elliott/Habersham people. We’re thinking of you.

Eliza McQueen Mackay of Oatland Island

December 7, 2019

It’s the Smith Family again. They will not let me be.

Footnote 30

Oatlands, a small island about a mile from the Cottage, was the only part of John McQueen’s estate in Georgia that his family had been able to keep from his creditors. It was here that the youngest John McQueen, on his return from Florida, tried his hand at planting Sea Island cotton. The various members of the McQueen and Smith families spent much time in the comfortable dwelling on Oatlands, and took pride in their extensive kitchen garden.

In “The Letters of Robert Mackay to his Wife”, we find copious information about this family. Walter Charlton Hartridge compiled a beautiful introduction and set of notes to explain who is whom.

Page 34


Cottage 14th Sepbr 1804

When in Town last week I wrote a few lines to you my Dearest Friend just to say that we were well & longed to hear from you–the next day we came out here which I considered very fortunate for soon after we had a most violent Storm or rather hurricane–& I should have been more frightened tho’ perhaps in less danger at home than here where my good Grandmothers example of composure extended itself to all around her–On the morning of the eighth the wind blew high from the North East but we apprehended nothing uncommon & past our time in the usual way–at ten oClock we perceived the tide to have covered the whole of the marsh between this & Jacksons at twelve it should have ebbed but to our great disappointment & surprise it continued to rise–the wind at the same time encreasing till it became so loud we could scarcely hear ourselves speak–it was with great difficulty we kept the doors & windows shut for the salt spray dashed against them with great force–& so much came through the cracks that we were obliged to bail it out–the Stable & every tree fell to the ground also part of one Chimney–this little dwelling shook with such violence we were in great dread of being crushed–I will not attempt to discribe our feelings–you can imagine what they were–I thought perpetually of what you must have suffered in the Oglethorpe & proposed your activity & resolution as an example to myself–but here there was

nothing to be done but to remain quiet & endeavour to bear with resignation the evil whatever it might be & it has kindly past off without injury to any one of us–the Children were unconscious of the danger & in as good spirits as usual–every thing looks dreary–the bluff washed away almost up to the doors the small trees that remain withered & many without a single leaf–the accounts from our Neighbours & the plantations are dismal many lives lost but none among our people–I have not yet heard from richmond–but the crops in general have suffered extremely at some places I fear entirely destroyed–at Oatlands there is scarce any thing left–no appearance of a garden or fence–they say if the water had been tweo feet higher there would not [have] been a spot of the Island uncovered by the flood–We hear from town that much damage has also been done there the particulars I suppose you will hear from Mr. Scott & many others–I have taken the first opportunity of telling you how well we have fared in this general calamity as I know you wd be anxious about us–there is no Vessel in a condition to sail from this port but I dare say Mr Scott will find a way of sending this–I hear Mr Mein is still in Charleston & that the storm has not been near so bad there–I have had two letter from Anne Mine since you went if you are with her give my best love & say I will write soon–The Eliza cannot be very far from here now by her perhaps we may hear from you indeed I expect that pleasure & shall be disappointed if I do not receive the congratulations of our friends on your safe arrival–Robert continues to be troubled with Boils Mary Anne & him often speak


of you & say you have been gone long enough & it is time you should come home–Adieu believe me always

Yours affectionately

E Mackay

Mr Robert Mackay



[Savannah, October 10, 1804.]

My Dear Mackay

You must prepare your Mind to bear up under a most severe affliction for I never took up my Pen to address you with so heavy a heart And how to disclose to you the Cause of my distress when it must affect you more severely. My hand shakes, my Pen trembles And I want language to impart to you My feelings Would to God I could take you by the hand & mingle my Tears with yours for the Loss (how shall I name it) of your oldest & Darling Son. Yes! my dear friend Poor Robert is no more & you are bereaved of the finest child I ever beheld–He was the pride of our City And I had flattered myself would long have been spared as a Comfort to his Parents and an ornament to his Country But alas! it has been otherwise decreed by Providence And We must bow with Submission to the omnipotent hand who gives & takes away–His Mother your amiable & affectionate Wife bears the Loss with more fortitude than I could have expected. Every thing is doing & will be done by your friends & her own family to Solace her Mind so as (if Possible) to mitigate this severe afflicton till your return which I trust is near



at hand And Time & Good Sense with the attention which the other Children daily require must be the blunter of feelings & regret for him that nothing in this World can bring back to us–Poor little fellow It was soon over with him but it was a severe fever while it lasted–About eight days previous to his being attacked Mrs Mackay came to Town from the Cottage for some medical assistance to Mary Anne & William who were rather unwell. And Robert had been Complaining for some time previous but on the Wednesday before his Death he was uncommonly playful & to me appeared in the finest Health–I did not call the next day for you must know I had Just got out of bed from a little attack that I had on leaving Charleston. On Thursday he was taken & Dr. Jones was sent for but no Danger was apprehended till Saturday Morning when Dr. Cuthbert was sent for–He was not at home & not to be found–Dr Irvine was called in but neither he nor Dr. Jones could avert its Progress. It was a case allmost as violent as Penns And I do not think it was in the Power of the faculty to save him–On Sunday Evening his little Soul left his earthly Abode for Mansions of Bliss where I hope we shall one day Join him–You must my Dear friend bear up under this most sever affliction It is the first of your Trials in the Relation of a Parent but such as all who are blessed with a family must lay their account with–If it can give you any Consolation I do assure you all your friends share & have partaken in your distress–The Inclosed from your Dear Wife I once thought of ordering to be sent to LIverpool but on second thought, I considered, it was too cruel in me to be the forwarder of News that was to distress & dwell on a Mind during


perhaps a long Passage where there were few objects to divert it & more particularly as on your Meeting with Mrs Mackay the whole Scene of affliction would be renewed–This is my excuse if I have erred My Dear Mackay it is the error of a friend who most Sincerely loves you & yours–

W: Mein

When I mentioned Oatland Island to Leslie, he said that he had been there years ago. This sounded bizarre to me, but it turns out that Oatland Island is a nature preserve.

So what do we do? We go to Oatland Island. We had to wait a couple weeks to get good weather on the weekend. It just so happened that the day we went was my birthday! We both got senior admissions even though we didn’t get carded.

We got a map of the nature trail at the admissions gate. The hiking trail was 1.75 miles, and I was highly doubtful that I could do it, but I had to try. What could happen, right?

The trail was not very well marked and we went back and forth a few times, because we kept missing a turn, making the total hike almost 4 miles.

The entrance from the parking lot. Behind us is the river.

The back of the building

Part of the marsh walk

The birds and animals live here because they can’t live in the wild. Some were injured and rehabilitated, some were orphaned, some can’t live in the wild.

This was part of the Heritage Site. I thought this meant the former home of the Smiths and McQueens and Mackays. Nope. Wrong again.

There had just been a cane grinding event the day before. Late to the dance once again.

The cane juice goes into the vat pictured below where it is heated until it turns into syrup. It takes a lot of juice to get a little bit of syrup.

From the rear you can see the fire box.

Leslie added to the photo for scale and local color.

The Delk cabin was built in 1835 by David Delk in the Taylor’s Creek Community of Gum Branch, Georgia.

After leaving the Heritage Homesite, we headed to the final portion of the trail. Wolves, bison, butterflies, the marsh awaited.

Past the parking lot was a new dock with a surprise.

This fabulous thing is an outdoor classroom.

In the distance is the highway that we drove in on from Savannah. You can see the section of bridge that is under construction.

So where was the original house? Perhaps looking toward the river. I would suppose that a boat was their major form of transportation to get to Savannah.

Before we headed home, I took a look at the step counter on the iPhone. No wonder my hips hurt.

There is also a gift shop in the main building with gifty type things. Leslie offered to buy me a sweatshirt because after all, they had one in an extra-large. Apparently he wants to be a comedian or has a death wish.

So while I’m not quite finished with these folks, this finishes my immediate curiosity with Oatlands.

They are having a sheep-to-shawl event in the spring which I am interested in. Maybe we’ll go back to the gift shop in case I need to buy an extra large shirt for a friend.

Because whoever thinks I need an extra large shirt doesn’t really need to say that out loud.