Fayette County, Alabama
~ History of Old Zion ~
"It is almost time again for the annual meeting of the
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,
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
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
"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
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This page last updated 09 Apr