This was the perfect opportunity for a genealogy trip. My in-laws were going to the beach……they asked me to come along. I knew that along that route were some places I had been longing to visit. This is the story.
I left on Thursday, August 9, 2012. I had planned my trip to go south, and to make stops at specific places along the way. My first stop after Montgomery , was Hayneville, Alabama. This is a very small town, but, everyone was so nice, and answered all my questions. I was looking for a marriage record for my 3rd great-grandparents that married there in February 1841. I knew it was a long shot, but, it was worth a try. No records were kept there. The young lady suggested the archives in Montgomery. She also recommended I visit the library across the street. I did, and there was a book on the History of Lowndes county. I searched through to find the main names of Pickens and Kirkpatrick. Many mentions of those names, but, not particular to those in which I was searching. However, it did mention that both names were prominent members of Little Sandy Ridge Presbyterian church, just south of there, near Fort Deposit. I did know already that Samuel Pickens was buried there, so off I went.
When I got back on Interstate 65, I saw that the town of Fort Deposit was west of the interstate and the church was east. I had time. I headed to the town of Fort Deposit. It too, was a small town, worn from the years, like Hayneville. But, it had character. Above the buildings that were abandoned, I saw spires. I followed them along a side street and saw a beautiful church. Fort Deposit United Methodist stood strong against the older structures that did not survive as well as she. I took some photos, and off I went again.
The cemetery was easy to find. I just followed hwy 185 to hwy 79, headed south for a few minutes, and there it was. My goal was to take my own photo of Samuel’s headstone, and, hopefully find a few more relatives. Dead relatives that is. There were also several photo requests here as well, and wanted to help those looking for photos too. It was not too large, only about 500 burials. I started walking…..I saw large headstones with Pickens, these were not the ones. They were too new. I looked further back, and I saw some Kirkpatrick headstones. BAM!! There he was next to them. He married a Kirkpatrick, Eleanor Kirkpatrick, daughter of Valentine Kirkpatrick. There it was, I was excited! After I had seen all I could of my family, I proceeded to search for the requests. Then, I saw a car pull along the fence and turn around. It stopped at the main gate. An older gentleman got out, came into the cemetery, and introduced himself as Joseph Cates. And he knew all about this cemetery. In fact, later in the day, I would find he documented all he could about it in 1963. He spoke to descendants of those buried there, got stories and information on them. He put it all in a binder. Yep, he knew all about this cemetery. He asked me which names I was looking to find, and I told him. He helped me find some others, and told me of his family Cates.
He said he had something I would be interested in seeing if I had time. Not too far was an old homestead of Kirkpatrick. I told him I did have time. He went to get in the car with is wife Nancy. He could not get his car started, so I gave them a ride about 500 yards to their home.
My story gets better from here.
” I live just down the road, I’m sorry to trouble you”. It was most assuredly no trouble to take them, he had helped me a great deal already. ” I live on the old Lloyd Pickens property”. WHAT????? Lloyd was the son of Samuel, and bother to my 3rd great-grandfather, William H. Pickens. I could not believe this. He was definitely the right person to come along. He then told me the homestead was only a mile or so down the road, if I would follow them. I did, and he stopped on the side of the road. I didn’t see anything at first. The, I got out, he pointed to a sign. And said, ” You take as long as you like, then I will tell you what I know”.
He remembered the old home, that had been gone several years. He described it as if it was still there. The area was know as Kirklville. I told him he made my day! We went back to the cemetery, because, I had one last photo request I could not locate. He got his book and told me where to look. He told me young people are never seen in cemeteries. They don’t appreciate it. This is one person, although, not exactly young, who can truly appreciate the history and reverence that should be given to our ancestors. I thanked him, he gave me his contact info, and I hope to be in touch with him.