Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Group marks every known Confederate grave in county

By Jean Cole

Confederate soldiers rested with a little more distinction this Memorial Day.

Members of the Thomas Hubbard Hobbs Camp No. 768 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans have spent the last two years placing 493 stones at the graves of every known Confederate soldier in Athens and Limestone County.

“This involved many hours of research to identify each soldier, document his service and then locate his gravesite,” said SVC member Buzz Estes of Athens. “Some of the private cemeteries were on land that had changed hands, and the present owners did not have as much motivation to maintain the cemetery.”

Led by Commander Jimmy Hill, the members placed 150-pound footstones and a few headstones in 93 cemeteries scattered across the county. Some were easy to find, others were grown over and forgotten.

“It is unclear whether this it the first camp to accomplish this task in the entire country, but it certainly is among the first,” Estes said.

The SCV celebrated Confederate Memorial Day April 20 with a ceremony dedicating the last stone and a marker at the Hobbs Street entrance to Athens City Cemetery. Civil War re-enactors made the dedication ceremony come alive. The SCV were joined by Order of Confederate Rose, Daughters of the Confederacy, state and national officers of the UDC and SCV, and local dignitaries.

The monument stone at Athens Cemetery is dedicated to all of the soldiers still sleeping in unmarked graves in family plots throughout the county and for all of the graves of Confederate soldiers yet to be found, Estes said.