Grave discovery

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A clue to the fate of one of Augusta's most notorious lost cemeteries emerged this week in an unlikely place: an aqueduct ditch near the Augusta Canal.

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A tombstone found in an aqueduct ditch adjoining the Augusta Canal was made for Bluford Garrett. Mr. Garrett was buried in Rollersville Cemetery, which was established in present-day Harrisburg in 1827.  Rob Pavey/Staff
Rob Pavey/Staff
A tombstone found in an aqueduct ditch adjoining the Augusta Canal was made for Bluford Garrett. Mr. Garrett was buried in Rollersville Cemetery, which was established in present-day Harrisburg in 1827.

"There's no telling how it got here," said Mike Stacy, who found the marble monument during a weekend cleanup organized by the First Saturday Foundation.

The simple epitaph told of Bluford Garrett, who was born in 1852 and died in 1903 -- and presumably was "at rest."

A check of local records shows Mr. Garrett was one of many burials at Rollersville Cemetery, less than a mile from the canal ditch where the tombstone was found.

The cemetery, located in today's Harrisburg neighborhood off Calhoun Expressway, was established in 1827. By 1867 it had become a major community cemetery.

Civil War soldiers and slaves were buried there, but the exact number is unknown; no records were kept. In 1883, the Rollersville community was absorbed by the city of Augusta and a caretaker began recording its burials. When the cemetery closed in 1910, there were 3,598 graves.

Although some of the graves were later moved to Magnolia Cemetery, most were forgotten, lost to vandalism and neglect. By the time the city tried to preserve the area in 1982, almost all stones were gone -- and a single marker was erected to preserve the memory of thousands laid to rest there.

Mr. Garrett's tombstone might provide a clue to the fate of many others, Mr. Stacy said.

"Maybe they needed riprap during one of the floods," he said. "Or maybe they just dumped them here in this ditch."

Mr. Stacy would like to move the marker back to Rollersville, but it is very heavy and in an area inaccessible to all but foot traffic.

"But if we had to, we could find a way to pull it out," he said.

Reach Rob Pavey at (706) 868-1222, ext. 119, or rob.pavey@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (33) Add comment
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Dodarighthang
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Dodarighthang 03/11/09 - 04:25 am
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For the sake of mankind, pull

For the sake of mankind, pull this headstone out of the mulk and put this man's headstone in the place of his burial. I've seen more done for animals. Let's be humane about this. It would be a disgrace to leave it in a ditch!!!!

LEO
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LEO 03/11/09 - 06:09 am
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Amen Paralegal1, for the sake

Amen Paralegal1, for the sake of human dignity!

Bscottcamp
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Bscottcamp 03/11/09 - 06:34 am
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If anyone objects to putting

If anyone objects to putting the man's marker back in its proper place, they should consider: what if this was your relative, or what if, in 150 years, this is the fate of Your marker? It's the Golden Rule, people, I think the answer is obvious. Do whatever is necessary to put the marker as close to its proper place as the records allow.

TheChairman
3
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TheChairman 03/11/09 - 07:42 am
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a heavy area for foot

a heavy area for foot traffic? then get a dolly, or a couple guys, and get this done!!! I'll help!!!

JANDEN
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JANDEN 03/11/09 - 08:42 am
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Who is this guy named Mike

Who is this guy named Mike Stacy that found the tomb stone?

Captain Awesome
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Captain Awesome 03/11/09 - 09:30 am
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There are lots of graveyards

There are lots of graveyards that have been developed over in Augusta. It's a shame. And it's nice to keep history like this.

Captain Awesome
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Captain Awesome 03/11/09 - 09:31 am
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Paralegal1, the only

Paralegal1, the only tombstone I've ever seen for an animal is a McDonalds.

carrera gt
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carrera gt 03/11/09 - 09:36 am
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Cremation! Save the land,

Cremation! Save the land, money for you children and energy used for a typical burial.

angiescloudsdisappeared
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angiescloudsdisappeared 03/11/09 - 10:21 am
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Cool Story.

Cool Story.

What4
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What4 03/11/09 - 10:47 am
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No Archeology students in the

No Archeology students in the area? This would be a great field project if other stones were in the ditch!!

devilishlymad67
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devilishlymad67 03/11/09 - 10:57 am
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captain there is a headstone

captain there is a headstone and grave for a dog at Redcliffe plantation in Beech Island.

FallingLeaves
31
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FallingLeaves 03/11/09 - 10:57 am
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Interesting story, thanks.

Interesting story, thanks.

JohnnyYuma
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JohnnyYuma 03/11/09 - 11:46 am
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I worked for the city of

I worked for the city of Augusta as a summer worker (Streets & Drains) in 1970 and 1971, cutting grass and clearing brush. I know first hand what happened to some of the grave stones in the Rollersville Cemetery, it's called a "bush hog". Thats what the city used to cut the grass there and all that was left were bits and pieces.

SargentMidTown
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SargentMidTown 03/11/09 - 12:29 pm
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In 1982 their were many

In 1982 their were many tombstones in the Rollersville cemetery. Mayor Pop Lewis Newman had the many tombstones removed and then he erected a monument with his name (ego massage) carved (in large letters) into it. Support www.hongkongaugustaga.org

SargentMidTown
8
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SargentMidTown 03/11/09 - 12:30 pm
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Newman is living. He should

Newman is living. He should be required to make a restitution of some sort to the Rollersville cemetery.

fighterzack
4
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fighterzack 03/11/09 - 12:46 pm
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Mike Stacy runs the Marina,

Mike Stacy runs the Marina, and helps out often on cleaning and beautifying the areas around the river and canal.

Poor-Enough
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Poor-Enough 03/11/09 - 12:47 pm
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Quote: "what if, in 150

Quote: "what if, in 150 years, this is the fate of Your marker?" In 150 years, I won't care what happens to my marker. There is an old saying "What difference will you make in 100 years?" For most people, the answer is NO difference, or, "My kids will make a difference.

As long as there are paper or computer records to tell people where their relative are or were buried, that's all that's needed.

SargentMidTown
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SargentMidTown 03/11/09 - 12:52 pm
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Did Pop Newman instruct the

Did Pop Newman instruct the city employees to dump the truck load of tombstones into the Augusta Canal in 1982? Newman knew in 1982 that he was playing with fire by stripping these historic markers from the Rollersville cemetery. Now they are coming back to haunt him. Pop Newman, Please do something to rectify your wrong doing. You defaced the entire Harrisburg community when you made our cemetery less interesting in 1982 ...this also devalued Harrisburg. At least put another monument in the Rollersville cemetery that has the names and birth and death dates of the 3,598 people who are buried there. Do you realize that by making the Rollersville cemetery interesting it will bring upwardly mobile people into Harrisburg to view the names of the people who are buried there? It is this kind of mystique that brings interest and value to communities. Newman you are old and close to facing your own death. Before you die please do right by Harrisburg.

SargentMidTown
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SargentMidTown 03/11/09 - 12:54 pm
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JohnnyYuma Pop Newman was in

JohnnyYuma Pop Newman was in charge. He is responsible.

KSL
186705
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KSL 03/11/09 - 01:49 pm
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Captain Awesome. Last summer

Captain Awesome. Last summer while in San Francisco at the Presidio, the cemetery for the pets of the soldiers' was pointed out to us. It was next to the military cemetery.We have always interred our pets with markers for their graves. I guess that makes us weird, huh?

KSL
186705
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KSL 03/11/09 - 01:54 pm
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GnipGnop1
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GnipGnop1 03/11/09 - 02:08 pm
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We went boating a few years

We went boating a few years ago on Lake Murray and stopped on a island to cook hotdogs and hamburgers. While wandering around on the island we ran across a few old graves. I'll quote grandpa in the Lost Boys..."if all the dead people buried around here stood up at once? We'd have one hell of a population problem" I'm sure there are a lot more buried and covered over with real estate develoments all over the USA.

Bizarro
13
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Bizarro 03/11/09 - 02:48 pm
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There could be "grave"

There could be "grave" consequences from this graveyard fiasco. Remember "Poltergeist". Beware. Beware. Beware. hee,hee,hee.

Georgiais1
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Georgiais1 03/11/09 - 03:08 pm
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Hey KSL....I was stationed at

Hey KSL....I was stationed at the Presidio (1976 through 1979) at Letterman Army Institue Of Reseach. (LAIR) Is it still there or did you notice? It was the building connectected to the hosiptal. Been through several earthquakes in that building.

williamhitt
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williamhitt 03/11/09 - 07:17 pm
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I grew up in Harrisburg and

I grew up in Harrisburg and have many relatives and friend buried in Westview Cemetery. Where is Rollersville located?

KSL
186705
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KSL 03/11/09 - 07:42 pm
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GAis#1. No, that was not

GAis#1. No, that was not pointed out to us. What kind of research was done there?

KSL
186705
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KSL 03/11/09 - 07:42 pm
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Attached to the hospital, it

Attached to the hospital, it must have been medical.

WW1949
22
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WW1949 03/11/09 - 08:29 pm
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Get real Sargent. I am sure

Get real Sargent. I am sure Mayor Newman had to get permission to do the cleanup. Anyway, who would come to Harrisburg to look at graves that are not there. Things do not stay the same for 150 years and who would want them to. Maybe someone could try and find his family and see if they would want to come get the stome marker. I have worked in Harrisburg all my life and have never heard of Rollerville. Where is it?

youdontknowme
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youdontknowme 03/11/09 - 10:07 pm
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Cremation! Save the land,

Cremation! Save the land, money for you children and energy used for a typical burial.
Posted by carrera gt on Wed Mar 11, 2009 9:36 AM
I couldn't agree with you more!!!

SargentMidTown
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SargentMidTown 03/11/09 - 10:08 pm
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Pop Newman is totally

Pop Newman is totally responsible. Rollersville cemetery is on Hicks St between Tuttle and Bohler. It is far more interesting to go directly to a cemetery to look for genealogical history than it is to look through documentation on paper. Go to the Rollersville cemetery and see the ego massage monument pop Newman erected there. This kind of grave yard desecration would not happen today. Have you been to the Summerville cemetery? Where do you work?

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