|George Buster Singleton|
(For decades, local historian and paranormal investigator George “Buster” Singleton published a weekly newspaper column called “Somewhere in Time.” The column below, which was titled “Season of autumn is a time to wander” was originally published in the Nov. 5, 1998 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)
It is strange how the changing seasons affect human beings. The slight cool breezes of early morning broadcast to the world that autumn has arrived. With the early morning breezes and beautiful sunsets of the past few weeks, a feeling of restlessness begins to beckon from within.
I often wonder why some never have the urge to wander the countryside to view the beauty that is there for mankind to appreciate. As I talk to people, I am amazed at the number who never bother to load up and ride to the nearest high hill to view an evening sunset. I’ve talked to many young people and very few have ever witnessed a sunset first hand. They have seen some on television, but very few have ever been taken to a special spot to view this marvel of creation.
This past week I had a couple of days to call my own. I threw caution to the wind, and followed my gypsy instincts, and spent two full days in vagabond fashion.
As I left the coffee shop, the cool breeze that tickled my cheeks didn’t help matters any. It seemed that somewhere in the distance someone was calling to me to head for the hill country to see a preview of what was to come. I knew that a few miles up the road the urge to wander would cover me like a blanket and only the setting sun would turn me around.
My first stop was near Chestnut. Pulling up a dim and grown up road, I stopped my transportation near an old home place. In a rough, grown-up area where the front yard once was, I walked to a lone grave marker. Here a lone Confederate soldier had been buried in a corner of the front yard of the family home place. Wiping away the dirt and mold on the marker as best I could, I made out these words.
Co. A, 13th Ala. Inf.
Confederate States of America
Next to this is a crude handmade limestone marker. The initials J.E. have been roughly scratched into it. And the date, Aug. 7 1855. Below this is the roughly scratched number 29. The crude limestone marker is shaped roughly like a heart. Nearby is what appears to be three or four more graves with no markers. Sunken places in the ground are rough evidence that perhaps these might be some of the Confederate soldier’s family. Standing over the graves is one of the largest oak trees I have ever seen. The tree seems to stand guard, its protective branches reaching out as though to cover those who sleep here. I have come to this place many times. Such a shame that our fairy-land society has all but forgotten these places that lay abandoned and unkept throughout the southland.
As I made my way toward Camden, I decided to visit another grave. After unlocking a steel gate that blocked a narrow road, I was soon beside another lone grave. This person suffered greatly because of the dreaded Civil War. This young lady had been engaged to a soldier of the Confederacy. Receiving word that her husband to be had been killed, she chose to end her life by hanging herself in her upstairs bedroom.
As usual, the weeds and grass around her final resting place had been pulled up and thrown to the side. The story goes that the ghost of her lover returns to her grave from time to time and neatly trims around her place of burial. The one that related the story to me has witnessed the strange and ghostly figure, dressed in a Confederate uniform, kneeling by this grave in the early hours of the morning, pulling up the grass and weeds.
A quick stop in Camden for coffee was refreshing. To my amazement, there were three people in the coffee shop that I knew. As usual, I was asked where I was going. When I answered that I didn’t know, a lady sitting nearby looked at me in total amazement. She couldn’t believe that I didn’t know where I was going. As I left, this lady continued to look at me in a weird manner. The next night, one of my friends told me this lady questioned them at length as to what type business I was in. She couldn’t believe I was out on a motorcycle and didn’t know where I was going.
Passing quickly through Dixons Mills and Sweet Water, I found myself turning off the highway after crossing the river near Nanafalia. A wonderful lunch of fresh catfish at a restaurant overlooking the Tombigbee River was a delicious treat. I didn’t understand why, but it seemed everywhere I went, I saw friends that I had known for a long time. While eating lunch, who would come in, but two ladies that I had gone to high school with. It was almost like a homecoming.
Back on Highway 69, I passed through Putnam and Morvin. As I reached Campbell, I turned back toward the river to the old community of my maternal ancestors. As I stood in the small family cemetery, I realized that buried here are four soldiers of the Confederacy. Strange, how all these visits seemed came together as if by chance in a single day.
A quick detour atop a high hill known as the Mountain; a visit to the cemetery at Witch Creek church where several soldiers of the Confederacy are buried. Back on Highway 69, I continued west to Coffeeville and across the Tombigbee to the town of Silas. Since I was here I thought I would visit the grave of the uncle whom I had been named after. He was killed in a railroad accident three months before I was born. As I departed the small burial ground, I knew that if I was to get back to the Hub City during the hours of daylight, I had to hurry. After 12 hours of wandering and 236 miles, I rode into my yard. Another day of wandering had come and gone, it had been just wonderful.
(Singleton, the author of the 1991 book “Of Foxfire and Phantom Soldiers,” passed away at the age of 79 on July 19, 2007. A longtime resident of Monroeville, he was born on Dec. 14, 1927 in Marengo County, graduated from Sweet Water High School, served in the Korean War, lived for a time among Apache Indians, moved to Monroe County in June 1964 (some sources say 1961) and served as the administrator of the Monroeville National Guard unit from 1964 to 1987. For years, Singleton’s column “Somewhere in Time” appeared in The Monroe Journal, and he wrote a lengthy series of articles about Monroe County that appeared in Alabama Life magazine. Some of his earlier columns also appeared under the heading of “Monroe County History: Did You Know?” He is buried in Pineville Cemetery in Monroeville. The column above and all of Singleton’s other columns are available to the public through the microfilm records at the Monroe County Public Library in Monroeville. Singleton’s columns are presented here each week for research and scholarship purposes and as part of an effort to keep his work and memory alive.)