Little Angels cemetery markers to be replaced

Published 4:33 pm Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A cluster of concrete markers in the cemetery across from Pilgrims Rest Baptist Church in Plantersville is the only visual reminder of an epidemic that claimed local children’s lives in the early 1900s.

Oral accounts of the “Little Angels,” the children whose markers dot the cemetery, have trickled down through generations.

Eventually, they sparked the interest of Griffon Chandler, 83, of Memphis, Tenn.

Chandler and his family lived down the road from Pilgrims Rest when he was a child.

His parents, grandparents and a younger brother are buried in the same cemetery as the Little Angels.

“I went to school there for a while, and the teacher told us the story about the children,” Chandler said. “I never forgot that.”

The small markers measure about 1 foot by 2 feet and bear no names or dates.

Last summer, Chandler took special notice of the deteriorating markers and decided to do something about them.

“I looked at those markers, and it occurred to me that this is a bit of history,” Chandler said. “If something isn’t done soon, that history will soon be lost.”

Chandler researched and wrote a story about the children and the lumber mill community they lived in at that time.

Southern Historical News published the story, and the Chilton County Historical Society became involved in the project.

Chandler’s family and friends raised funds for a new marker made from Wetumpka marble.

The marker will be inscribed with a condensed version of the story, along with eight angels around the edges.

A dedication ceremony for the new markers will be Sunday, April 29 at Pilgrims Rest Baptist Church at 10:30 a.m.

The ceremony will include a short service, a presentation on the church’s history, singing, lunch and remarks from Chandler about the project.

“I plan to talk a little about the old church and the one-room school that used to be there and that I attended in the first grade,” Chandler said. “I’m excited and honored and am looking forward to it.”

Pilgrims Rest Baptist Church is located at 444 County Road 37 in Plantersville.