Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Historical marker describes large, historic cemetery in Brewton, Alabama

Historical marker at Union Cemetery in Brewton, Ala.
This week’s featured historical marker is the “Union Cemetery” marker in Escambia County, Ala. This Alabama Historical Commission marker is located just inside the entrance to the Union Cemetery on Cemetery Road in Brewton, Ala.

This marker was erected by the City of Brewton in 2007. There’s text on both sides of the marker, but both sides are the same. What follows in the complete text from the marker:

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“UNION CEMETERY: Union Cemetery has been an important resting place for Brewton’s loved ones since at least 1879. State officials acknowledged the historical significance of Union Cemetery for our area by adding it to the Alabama Historic Cemetery Register on April 7, 2006.”

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I visited this large cemetery for the first time on Saturday while geocaching in the area with my son and nephew. This cemetery appears to contain nearly 2,000 graves, including those of prominent Brewton families like the McMillans and the Millers. The marker described above is just inside the entrance gate, and you’ll also find paved roads throughout the cemetery. You can drive up to just about any spot in the cemetery with little problem.

If the earliest graves here date back to the 1870s, then this cemetery is actually older than the City of Brewton. The Brewton area was first founded around May 1861 when a train station was built there, but the City of Brewton wasn’t officially incorporated until Feb. 13, 1885. Of course, Brewton is a sizable city, so there are a number of cemeteries within its boundaries, but Union Cemetery is among the oldest, if not the oldest.

As mentioned on the marker, the Union Cemetery is listed on the Alabama Historic Cemetery Register. Other cemeteries in Escambia County, Ala. that are also on this important register include the Franklin Cemetery, the Old Sullivan Community Cemetery and Pilgrims Rest Cemetery. In order for a cemetery to be placed on this list, the cemetery must be at least 40 years old, the majority of the burials must be over 40 years of age and it must be historically significant, that is, the cemetery must derive its importance from a family, community, church, historical event or contain unique grave markers and burial practices.

While researching the marker above, I found an article from the Nov. 13, 2013 edition of The Brewton Standard newspaper that said that the Escambia County Commission had given Georgia Pacific permission to move the Franklin Cemetery to the Union Cemetery. According to the article, which was written by Kerry Bean, the Franklin Cemetery is located amid buildings at the Georgia Pacific plant in Brewton. Once moved, with the help of the Alabama Historical Commission, a “fence and historic marker will be erected to set the graves aside from the others in the cemetery,” the article said.

In the end, visit this site next Wednesday to learn about another historical marker. I’m also taking suggestions from the reading audience, so if you know of an interesting historical marker that you’d like me to feature, let me know in the comments section below. 

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