Historic Chilton County cemetery dedicated Saturday

Published 1:24 pm Saturday, May 30, 2009

Saturday was a special day for one of northeast Chilton County’s native families and all those influenced by their legacy.

Descendants, volunteers, history buffs and others gathered at 10 a.m. for the official dedication of the Mullins family cemetery in the Jumbo community. Also present were re-enactors from the 31st Alabama Infantry, complete with uniforms and black powder rifles.

The site has seen much improvement since the first workday on Nov. 1, 2008, when volunteers organized an effort to clear the site of debris, locate missing graves and replace lost or damaged headstones.

The cemetery, located near the site of the original Mullins family homestead just off Chilton County Road 8, contains many historic grave sites but is perhaps best known for the grave of Sarah Crockett Goodgame, thought by many to be a sister or cousin of legendary American folk hero Davey Crockett.

“I did not recognize this cemetery,” said Ted Urquhart, first vice president of the Alabama Cemetery Preservation Alliance, during his dedication speech at the ceremony. “The people who have worked here, you have done a marvelous, marvelous thing.”

The Mullins Cemetery is one of 19 Chilton County cemeteries listed on the state historic register. At least 12 of these were submitted by Kat Reece of the Chilton Cemetery Association, a local preservation group.

Another group that made a significant contribution was Boy Scout Troop 259, based in Clanton. Troop member Hunter Bennett organized a fundraiser, collecting about $2,000 toward the placement of a historical marker as part of his Eagle Scout project. Bennett and the troop, as well as many other individual volunteers, were recognized during the ceremony.

“I have been familiar with this cemetery all of my life, so when I had to decide on my Eagle Scout project, it didn’t take me long to decide this was the contribution I wanted to make,” Bennett said.

The re-enactors fired their rifles in honor of several Confederate veterans, including James Vines, Henry Young, Oliver Mullins, William Marcus, Lewis M. Cox, William E. Vines and J. Levi Marcus.

Attendance was estimated at 75 people. Among them was Becky Mullins Jackson, daughter of Reese Mullins, granddaughter of Clifford Reese Mullins, and great granddaughter of Oliver and Sarah Susan Robinson Mullins.

“This means quite a great deal to me because when I was a child we came out here all the time, and it was just beautiful,” Jackson said.

She shared a story about her great grandfather, Oliver Mullins, when he came home from the Civil War to marry Sarah Susan Robinson. He served in the cavalry, and Selma had just surrendered.

“She was scared to death he had deserted because they had not gotten the news out here,” Jackson said.

A stone chair sits behind the grave of Sarah Susan Robinson Mullins, which was built in 1938 for her to sit while visiting the cemetery.

“It’s not comfortable,” Jackson said. “I assume she didn’t stay that long, because their home was right around the corner.”

The Mullins family isn’t the only family buried there. Reece said her husband, Jeff, found a stone apparently carved by John Ellison when he returned from the war and learned of his wife’s death. The stone now sits near the headstone of Marzley M. Coker and bears the marks, “M.M.”

“That’s just pure history because we know John stood there with a knife and carved it,” Reece said.