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Fayette County, Alabama
~ History of Old Zion ~

"It is almost time again for the annual meeting of the Zion Cemetery Organization, a historical place on the Byler Road.  In an article I wrote last year I gave somewhat a resume of its background, etc.  In this article I will try to give something not given before but will include some of the same people.  The COTTONs played such an important role in many respects that their names will come up again.  George B. [COTTON], who was the organizer of this organization has been dead almost 18 years, but it has met every year since.

"The well kept plot where they are buried is enclosed by a low wall with white sand covering the graves.  In addition to 'Aunt' Cynthia [COTTON], born December 25, 1812 and died July 28, 1916 (age 103 years, seven months, three days), there is her son George H. [COTTON], his three sons, Jesse, Rudolph and George B., who was in WWI, a grandson, William Bryan SIMPSON, who was killed in WWII, U.S. Air Corps, and several other relatives.

"Cassandra BLANKENSHIP, born 1802 was likely the wife of Samuel D. BLANKENSHIP, who deeded the three acres to seven trustees for the church and burial ground with the clause that if it ceased to be a church, it was to go back [to the family].  It did, and was organized as a cemetery association in 1941, with seven trustees.  The Union soldiers [sic] buried here is: John KELLER, Co. [C], 18 Illinois Inf. USA, the Confederate J.W. HAMMACK, Co. D, 22 Georgia Inf. CSA.

"Many of the old ones of the MILLER family are here.  Jacob G. [MILLER], born Sept. 16, 1826, his wife Rhoda, born 1825 have a son here, McAjahn [MILLER], called Cage, born 1850 and several grandchildren.  Another son, Louis J. [MILLER] born 1857 and his second wife, Mary Ada ALEXANDER are buried at Cleveland, a short distance south of Zion.  A history of Cleveland Church of Christ has recently been printed, done by Bara WHITSON LOWREY.  There is in their cemetery a tomb stone with this unique inscription: Samuel S. CARSON, born 1839, died 1909, Preacher of the gospel, stranger from England.  He was an orphan boy, who with [h]is younger brother, joined a sailing vessel working together for a time but became separated.  Samuel eventually landed in America and spent much of his remaining years searching for his brother, but never found him.  He spent his last years in the New River and Cleveland Communities, dying at 'Uncle' Jerry ENIS' who lived a stone's throw from Old Zion.

"I understand John Tyler McCALEB, of New River, placed their marker here.  William Asbury ELLIS, born 1835, who lived near Zion requested to be buried under a giant hickory tree which stood at the south edge of the cemetery.  He and his wife, Luticia PORTER, are here but the tree has long since gone.  Our school path to Mars Hill skirted the graves by only a foot or two.  Sarah POWELL, born Laurens, S.C. 1791 and buried here, was an ancestor of Luticia's.

"'Uncle Billy' [ELLIS], as he was called, was a quiet man of mild demeanor but 'Aunt' Tissue was one, as we used to say, 'who's [sic] tongue never closed,' though a great, well-loved woman.  One cold winter night while they were sitting by a big log fire, 'Aunt' Tissue, engaged in piecing on a quilt top, was chattering away on various and secondary subjects.  Finally Uncle Billy, raising his eyes from staring into the fire said, 'Tish, you talk too much – you'll have a heap to answer for in the judgment' – pausing for a moment – 'that is, if you git there.'  This was told to me by their son, Mr. Jim [ELLIS] whose humor must have come from Tish.

"Another man buried here is J.R. WEBB, born 1851, died 1914.  He was known to imbribe [sic], on occasion and was a member of the Church of Christ.

"The day he was to be buried, Mr. Jeff OAKLEY, a dear friend of Papa DEAVOURS, who didn't care too much for, as he called it, the Campbellite Church, rode up to Papa's yard, called him out, and said, 'Catch out your mule and let's go down to Zion and see what Neil DOBBS does with Reefe WEBB.'  Papa DEAVOURS, also a member at Cleveland, related this story of the funeral.  On the way back home, they had gone quite a ways, neither saying a word.  Finally Mr. Jeff said, 'Well, Hershel, Neil DOBBS just preached a real good sermon and just left old Reefe alayin "there!"'  Mr. Jeff's first wife, Armanda FOWLER, a first cousin of H.U.'s is buried here.

"There also are FORTENBERRY, FREEMAN, EDMONSON, AREY, JENKINS, JOHNSON, TRAWEEK, BRASHER, DYER and BAILEY family names here and of course, the hog drover, from Williamson Co., TN., H.W. CHANEY, who died at the nearby camp grounds, in 1857, on the way to market at Tuscaloosa.

"Any who have connections with this place, are welcome to come the third Sunday in July.  Lunch will be served at noon."

Source:  Carrie Sawyer Deavours, "History of Old Zion," (loose newspaper clipping), 14 Jul 1982.

Generously contributed by
Frances Lowrey Brasher

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This page last updated 09 Apr 2006.