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The Calhoun Historical Society went on a field trip to visit the graves of Moses and Vashti Ayers. It involved more than just hopping in a car and driving over a blacktop road to the destination.

 

First, maps were needed. Not just a county road map, but a tax map that revealed the names of the owners. The graves were on private property, so the owner was contacted to get permission to cross their land. Then, a topographical map was needed to determine the surrounding terrain. An advance scout, Bob Bonar, made the trip to experience the depth of mud holes and the best way to get to the hilltop resting place.

 

The scheduled date finally arrived! Six members started out from the town parking lot in assorted vehicles, winding their way along a narrow country road. They met only one car during the trip. After maneuvering mud holes and avoiding deep ruts, the searchers parked on a well road and piled into the Bonar truck. They bounced along to the next landmark, a gate to the private farm. The easy part was over. We proceeded on foot through a meadow, where we were met by Jesse Nichols, who was our guide and friend for the final climb.

 

 

 

He told us that as a child, he would be working with his grandpa and learned more of the history of the site. The farm was first in Lewis County, then in Gilmer County, and after 1856, when Calhoun became a county, it was still in Gilmer, but right on the county line. There had been over 20 graves in the cemetery. All that remains now is the five foot tall Ayers marker and several stones that were probably grave markers.

 

The tombstone is a work of art, with butterflies carved around the top and geometric sunflowers on the side. Vashti’s information is on one side: “Vashti, wife of Moses Ayers, died Nov. 28, 1870, 69 yrs, 5 mo, 20 d.” Moses’ information states: “Moses Ayers, died Feb. 19, 1866, 68 yrs, 2 d.”

 

While at the burial site, we heard more about traditions of where a cemetery would be located. The family farm was a favored site. They would find an East facing slope, and go to a broad flat on high ground that probably would not be suitable for farming. Access was no problem for horse pulling sleds and wagons. The abundance of land and lack of burial regulations gave them many choices.

 

The searchers were reluctant to leave, holding on to the last bits of history related by Jesse, but it was beginning to rain, and we were back in the 21st century where mud roads could be very slick.

 

“Well, here’s to those laboring away at history’s paint-by- numbers mural. The more of those blank spots we can eliminate--whether they are the great empty spaces of long forgotten eras or the shadowy secrets of more familiar times and places--the clearer will be our understanding of ourselves and our forebears.” --Author unknown.

 

This Week's Editorial:

By Helen Morris:

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