Monday, August 17, 2015

BUCKET LIST UPDATE No. 230: Visit the grave of Fred D. McClammy at Lone Star Church

Fred D. McClammy's grave at Lone Star.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by the “Mystery Stones of Pine Orchard.” The first that I can remember ever hearing about these unusual stones was in the writings of former Monroe Journal columnist George Singleton, who devoted an entire chapter to the stones in his 1991 book, “Of Foxfire and Phantom Soldiers.”

Years later, when I worked as a reporter at The Monroe Journal newspaper in Monroeville, one of the first things that I wanted to check out for myself were the “Mystery Stones of Pine Orchard,” so I arranged an interview in which I finally got to see several of these stones for myself, all of which were on private property.

The 'mystery stone' at McClammy's grave.
For those of you unfamiliar with these mystery stones, there were originally 12 of them, and were dubbed “mystery stones” by state archivists, who examined the prehistoric stones after their discovery in the 1960s. The late Milford Champion and the late Fred D. McClammy, both of Pine Orchard, a community in northeast Monroe County, reported the existence of the stones after their discovery in the 1960s. When they found the stones, the relics were partially sunk in the ground. Some of the stones were covered by undergrowth, and some rested in a stream.

Worried that vandals might destroy the stone disks, Champion and McClammy decided that it was best to move the stones. They brought a small bulldozer to the site and pushed the stones onto a trailer and hauled the relics onto their property. According to Singleton, the largest stone was 40 inches in diameter and weighed about 1,500 pounds. The smallest of the stones measured 18 inches across and weighed about 30 pounds. In all of the stones but one, there is a hole, but not necessarily in the exact center.

According to a report published in the Oct. 31, 1991, edition of The Monroe Journal newspaper, Champion found the stones lined up from east to west and from largest to smallest, spaced about 40 feet apart. Champion felt that natives rolled the stones to the location and then chiseled the stones into disks.

When discovered, the disks rested in a basin hidden in thick underbrush about a mile northwest of Pine Orchard, about 1-1/2 miles from Lone Star Church. All of the stones were intact, and some showed fossilized seashells and pebbles, which had been exposed by years of washing from a stream that had been rerouted there. He also stated that out of all the archaeologists who have examined the stones over the years, and there have been many, most felt that the stones were used for ceremonial purposes.

A few years ago, someone told me that one of the mystery stones had been placed at McClammy’s grave, which is in the cemetery adjacent to the Lone Star Community of Christ Church. This cemetery is open to the public, so I put a trip to McClammy’s grave on my “bucket list” a few years ago, mainly so I could take my kids to see one of the mystery stones for themselves.

We made the trip to this cemetery last Saturday afternoon and quickly located McClammy’s grave, which can be found in the far corner of the cemetery near the wood line. Once there, we took a few minutes to examine the stone, which has been placed at the foot of McClammy’s grave. According to McClammy’s tombstone, he passed away in 1973, but I’m not sure when the mystery stone was placed there, probably some time later.

In the end, how many of you have ever seen the mystery stone in the cemetery at Lone Star Church? How many of you have seen examples of the other mystery stones in the Pine Orchard area? Let us know in the comments section below.

(If you decide to see the mystery stone at the Lone Star Church for yourself, please be respectful of the cemetery and its surroundings. I would also advise you not to disturb McClammy’s grave or the mystery stone, so that other can enjoy seeing it for themselves years from now.)

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