The Cottage Cemetery

Week 17 of 52 Ancestors is Cemetery.

Just south of Augusta, Georgia stood a house called The Cottage Place. It was the summer home of Oswell and Aphra Ann Eve and their children. His daughter, Sarah Eve Adams, would later purchase the property from her father’s estate and raise her nieces and nephews there. Other Eve children lived there at different time and Sarah would leave The Cottage to two of her nieces1.IMG_6552

Around 1800, Oswell set aside some land for a family cemetery less than half a mile from The Cottage Place. The first burial there was his daughter, Augusta Belinda, who died in 1803. She was only 9 months old2.

Since then, more than 100 people have been buried in Cottage Cemetery. Most of, if not all, the people buried there are related to one another in some way and I’m related to about two-thirds of them. My dad once said it’s an incredible feeling to walk into a cemetery where your related to so many of it’s residents. It’s very true; the feeling is indescribable.

Many infants and young children are buried there, including one that is in the same grave with her mother. Several people there died in neighboring states, but desired to be in the family cemetery and requested, before their deaths, that their remains be brought back to Augusta. The most recent burial in the cemetery took place in 2011. He was my grandfather’s 1st cousin.

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My 3rd great-grandparents, Anderson Watkins Carmichael and Elizabeth Eve Longstreet; most of their parents, John Carmichael and Mary Elizabeth Eve along with Martha Henrietta Eve Longstreet; and the parents of Mary and Martha Eve, Oswell Eve and Aphra Ann Pritchard, are all buried in The Cottage Cemetery. There is a memorial to Martha’s husband, Gilbert Longstreet, in the cemetery. He is buried in Texas.

Other family names in the cemetery include Adams, Bones, Campbell, Couper, Cunningham, Dow, Edgar, FitzSimmons, Ketchum, Leitner, Long, Schley, Sibley, Smith, Whitehead, and Williams, with a few unidentified graves.

Those buried there include early faculty members of the Medical College of Georgia, a man who invented an early cotton gin, in-laws of a South Carolina governor, artists, and others who shaped the early history of Augusta, Georgia.

Around 1880, Emmaline Eve Smith, a daughter of Oswell Eve, recorded in her memoirs a description of the cemetery:

The “Eve Graveyard” near the “Cottage” and “Rosney Chapel” on the Savannah Road is surrounded by a brick wall covered with jasmine vines and has cedars and evergreens throughout with many handsome monuments. The Eve descendants who have lived at the “Cottage” and “Sunnyside” have always cared for the sacred spot and kept it in order. It is surrounded by acres of land in its name so that no encroachment can be made on its borders.

In the early part of the 20th century, The Cottage Place burned down and the land, except for 2 acres including the cemetery, would be sold to others and to developers: houses, apartment buildings, and businesses would go up near the cemetery. At one point, descendants had to go to court over being able to access the cemetery since the owner of the surrounding land offered no easement. It was ruled that an easement had to be made and descendants had to have access to the cemetery3.

Also in that time, the cemetery was vandalized on at least two occasions. The vandals destroyed brick box/marble tablet markers, toppled monuments, and stole headstones (including the one for Augusta Belinda Eve)4. Time also took its toll on the cemetery as it became over grown and trees fell into the graveyard.

 

In 2004, alumni of Virginia Military Institute (VMI) discovered one of the residents of the cemetery was William Smith Carmichael, a VMI cadet who fought at the Battle of New Market. They founded the Augusta, Georgia Chapter of the VMI Alumni Association. Meeting monthly for four months, they cleared brush from the cemetery, revealing the sad state of the cemetery.

Shortly after that, descendants of the people buried there, or “cousins” as we like to call ourselves, VMI alumni, and other interested parties, formed an organization called Augusta’s Historic Cottage Cemetery. The mission of the group is to address restoration, preservation, history and genealogy for ancestors and descendants.

In 2008, the organization hired The Chiccora Foundation to do a reconnaissance survey of the cemetery and render a report of their findings. The report detailed every existing headstone and monument, the brick wall around the graveyard, and the environs around the place. They were contracted to repair several of the headstones and monuments. Workers also taught a local man how to repair headstones and he has continued the work, as funds are available.

The change is remarkable.

 

 


References:

  1. Last will and testament of Sarah Adams. 22 Jan. 1851.
  2. “Cemetery Holds Interest and History of Augusta.” The Augusta Chronical 15 Jan. 1911. Print.
  3. Phinizy et al. v Gardner et al. 159 Ga. 136. Supreme Court of Georgia. 1924. Thompson/West. (Retrieval date unknown.)
  4. “Cemetery Vanadlism.” The Augusta Herald 3 Mar. 1972: page 1B. Print.

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