So the year is 1950 and there are plans and excitement to beginning Buford Dam. No doubt there is work, growth and the promise of a bright future with hydroelectric power, economic and recreational opportunities. Like Allatoona Dam and lake, graves and hsitoric sits are the victim like Etowah, Georgia.
Another site states. “The government would buy up over 50,000 acres of prime farmland and pristine wilderness, moving more than 250 families, 15 businesses, and even relocating 20 cemeteries along with their corpses in the process. As the nooks and crannies of the mountain foothills filled with surging water,” Mysteries and Death at Georgia’s Cursed Lake Brent Swancer
Buford Dam groundbreaking ceremony, March 1, 1950. A huge crowd gathered for the ceremonies on a high, windy bluff overlooking the Chattahoochee River. When completed, the dam would impound the waters of Lake Sidney Lanier. https://dlg.usg.edu/record/hall_hchp_0688
One such cemetery was the Barry Hutchin’s Burial ground as mentioned in Find A Grave below. “Thomas Burford’s Revolutionary Soldier grave is not in the New Bethany Baptist Church main cemetery but is located behind the church in a special place with 50 others, These graves were moved by the Corp of Engineers from their original site when Lake Lanier was formed. There is a stone monument inscribed with these words: [IN MEMORIAM SITE G “51 GRAVES MOVED IN 1965 FROM BARRY HUTCHINS BURIAL GROUND WITHIN BURFORD DAM AND RESERVOIR PROJECT.” ERECTED BY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, U. S. ARMY] Note: birth date is not on tombstone.
Bio by: William Carlton Wade
So many of these graves were moved. My personal experience was with a cemetery located off Buford Hwy between Flowery Branch and Oakwood on Buford Hwy, Many years ago i remember the cemetery nestled between many trees a large oak tree, a rock wall and a marker like the one below. However the memory I had was drastically changed by a builder, I had no memory of the cemetery looking like this.
“This is the relocated Thompson Cemetery that was moved when Lake Lanier was built in 1957. All the markers were moved by Edgar Brown Dunlap Jr. to his property on Dunlap Drive, off Thompson Bridge Rd. No bodies were moved, only the markers. In 2013 the traditional surrounding fence was removed, and the markers were moved and laid flat into a large circle level with the ground. All markers have been photographed and uploaded to FindAGrave. The cemetery is a small lot in a residential area.
From 2013 we fast forward the development to this story in the Gainesville times.
The developer wants to move the already moved cemetery another 40 feet. So these families have moved from Lake Lanier. Their graves or their markers were moved again in 2013 and will be moved again in 2019. It seems to me our dead get around a lot better than we think, They get junk mail for many years after they die. Many still receive Social Security with the help from their siblings. They vote regularly showing up on many absentee ballots. It then should not be surprising that they would travel from time to time.
I attended the council meeting along with a Wes Hulsey, a South Carolina Resident and descendant. Along with several family members blindsided by what was going on. They wanted to move the graves 40 feet to deal with a development already 80 percent complete.
” The two dozen graves include members of the Thompson family, one of Hall County’s founding families, WSB-TV reported . Hulsey says the bodies of two slaves from the early 19th century also are buried there. The known dates of death for the people buried there are from 1854 to 1916.
Their original resting place was in the basin of what is now Lake Lanier. The bodies were moved to the lakefront property in 1957, according to a report by Southeastern Archeological Services Inc. They are among at least 769 graves from 25 cemeteries that were moved from what’s now the lake basin when the giant man-made reservoir was being created, the report states.”
Ok so here is the problems in a nutshell.
- Is moving the graves necessary? The builders argued the graves were already vandalized as in the Find A grave comment above.
2. How did we get to this point? Do we do inspections and review plots do determine if your encroaching on a cemetery? Why was Hall County not aware?
3. How can you build close to a cemetery, claim you have ancestors buried there and not be concerned about the cemetery? Well of course you own the house.
4. If you move the cemetery 40 feet will in be in the public right of way endangered to be encroached on again?
The last meeting I attended was November 18, 2019. The families and the developer reached an agreement. While that was great the problem still remains. Many cities and counties do not have a cemetery or historical preservation plan. I told the Hall County Planning Committee they needed one. As you may see with some counties they simply don’t care. So its up to you and I to respond when we see a problem and someone getting too close to a histrionic cemetery or site. We live in a disposable world. History is more of an inconvenience than a teacher.