Vandalized cemetery getting facelift

The cemetery containing the grave of Chilton County’s first sheriff will soon be recognized with a historic marker.

The Williams-Goodgame Cemetery, located in the old community of Jumbo in northeast Chilton County, is getting a much-needed facelift thanks to the Chilton Cemetery Association, descendants and volunteers.

A workday will be held Saturday, Oct. 9 to place several new headstones at the site, which has suffered extensive damage at the hands of vandals, said CCA member Kat Reece.

“Our work there is almost finished,” Reece said.

The organization needs a few willing and able bodies to pick up headstones and help transport them to the cemetery, where they will be installed. Reece cautioned that the stones weigh from 150-200 pounds apiece, so those who volunteer will need to be able to lift heavy objects.

There are about 17 unmarked graves at Williams-Goodgame because many of the headstones were destroyed through acts of vandalism. All these will need to be replaced.

“This cemetery has had repeated vandalism,” said Reece, expressing frustration at finding garbage illegally dumped there upon her last visit. “It’s really frustrating. I’d really like for people who live on County Road 61 to keep an eye on the cemetery when they drive by.”

Among those buried at the cemetery are John Goodgame, who fought in the Creek War of 1836, and Edward Willis, a Confederate veteran.

Willis’ original marble headstone is still intact, Reece said, but may eventually have to be replaced because vandals have used it as target practice.

“Someone poured bleach all over it,” she added, explaining that certain chemicals can damage headstones.

The group has placed a veteran’s headstone for Thomas Williams, the first Chilton County sheriff, as well as four concrete slabs for other graves. Reece thanked Shelby Concrete for delivering the concrete free of charge.

Clint Seales of Clanton, a local Boy Scout, has selected the Williams-Goodgame Cemetery as his Eagle Scout community service project, raising more than $1,600. As a result of his efforts, a historic marker will be placed there. Reece hopes the marker will arrive in time for the Oct. 9 workday.

On that day, CCA will also sponsor a workday at the nearby Mullins Cemetery. This cemetery has received much attention in the past but is in need of upkeep.

“We don’t want to turn our backs on these cemeteries once we’ve done work in them. Everything grows back,” Reece said.

She also thanked the Jones and Williams families for allowing permission to enter the cemeteries.

A map to the cemeteries may be found on the CCA website, chiltoncemeteries.org. For more information about volunteering, call 294-2197.

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