Tag Archives: Clarke County

Epitaphs that tell a story

Five family members lost their lives in a fire when gasoline the father was pouring into another container was too close to open flame. The Cochran family members are laid to rest in the Mica Baptist Church in Cherokee County, Georgia.

The Victorians used symbolism to discuss death. From heavenly hands reaching down to earth to wilted flowers, the use of words was rarely utilized to discuss the tragedy of death. Sometimes seen prior to 1900, there was a slight change in the 1900s where the manner of death was permanently shared as part of an epitaph. While not a frequent find, I admit these epitaphs always leaving me wanting to know more.

Brothers Charles and Walter McGuire drowned when their boat capsized in Thunderbolt. While it is hard to see, their names are at the top of the monument. They are laid to rest with their parents in Catholic Cemetery in Savannah.
Millard Chalker, a Gibson, Georgia business owner, was ambushed by a bandit. He was killed for the money in his pocket. He is laid to rest in Gibson City Cemetery in Glascock County, Georgia.
I was unable to find a newspaper article about Samuel’s death, but the epitaph let’s us know he drowned during the summer. His marker can be found in the Oconee Hill Cemetery in Athens, Georgia.

Ricky Wilson at Oconee Hill Cemetery-Athens, Georgia

Clarke County

Formed in 1976, the B-52s hail from Athens, Georgia. Ricky Wilson, the lead guitarist and brother of Cindy Wilson, grew up in Athens. He passed away from complications related to AIDS in 1985. His final resting place is in a family plot in Oconee Hill Cemetery in Athens, Georgia. The pyramid marker can symbolize a great deal. Here is a website with more info.

Gospel Pilgrim Cemetery-Athens, Georgia

Clarke County

Founded in 1882, Gospel Pilgrim Cemetery in Athens, Georgia was the first cemetery owned by Black community in town. Over 3,000 Black Athenians have been laid to rest here. From Monroe “Pink” Morton, a prominent builder and namesake of the Morton Theater, to noted quilt maker, Harriet Powers.

The Gospel Pilgrims were a benevolent organization started after the Civil War. One benefit the group provided was burial insurance. In Athens, the organization was so popular that by 1912 almost 75% Black Athenians were members.

It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006.

Morton family marker

Nettles Death Masks-Carlton, Alabama

Clarke County

Outside of Carlton, Alabama, Mt. Nebo Baptist Church’s cemetery contains death masks created by Isaac Nettles. Nettles created these masks by making molds of the subjects’ faces while they were still alive, which is different from the traditional death mask made after someone passes. The three-person marker represents Isaac and Cora’s three daughters and rests atop Cora’s grave. There are two other markers made by Nettles. These are deteriorating quickly. In 2020, Hurricane Sally caused significant damage to the masks. These are incredible pieces of folk art. At one point, there were four death masks. One was made for Isaac’s mother Selena/Celina. It was damaged by Hurricane Frederick in 1979. The markers were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2000.