Families join together to save aging cemetery

Edgar Carmichael's violent death is as much a mystery today as it was on Christmas Day 1865, when he died "by the hands of an unknown assassin."

Beyond the cryptic epitaph on his weathered tombstone, little else is known about the 20-year-old Augusta man's demise.

"Some of these markers are fascinating," said Anne Sherman, a Carmichael descendant who has joined forces with other families to preserve the aging Cottage Cemetery in south Augusta.

Hidden by a weathered brick wall, the 200-year-old historic site off Marvin Griffin Road is threatened by vandalism and neglect.

Among the known burials there are Oswell Eve, a sea captain and boat builder who owned Goodale Plantation below Augusta; Emma Longstreet, the wife of Sibley Mill namesake Josiah Sibley; and inventor Joseph Eve, who patented a cotton gin in 1788.

Others were bankers, church founders, merchants and writers whose contributions to Augusta deserve the site's preservation, said Phillip Christman, who serves with a nonprofit organization that is raising funds for the cemetery's care.

The idea, he said, is to have Historic Augusta Inc. serve as fiduciary manager for funds that will help preserve the cemetery, which was named for one of Oswell Eve's homes known simply as "The Cottage."

Though the area receives some maintenance, it will take a broader effort to protect it from vandalism, said Erick Montgomery, the executive director of Historic Augusta.

"If you look around out here, almost all the markers have been damaged," he said. "Isn't it sad?"

Much of the damage occurred decades ago, but the site remains vulnerable to exploitation and damage, Ms. Sherman said.

The committee hopes to contract with the Chicora Foundation, a Columbia group with expertise in cemetery preservation, for the site's long-term welfare.

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

WANT TO HELP?

A committee is forming to help preserve the 200-year-old Cottage Cemetery in south Augusta where members of the Eve, Campbell, Carmichael, Cunningham, FitzSimons, Longstreet, Schley and Sibley families are buried.

Contributions can be mailed to Historic Augusta, P.O. Box 37, Augusta, GA 30903, earmarked "Cottage Cemetery Fund." If you have information about descendants, contact Anne Sherman, P.O. Box 700, Edisto Island, SC 29843, or e-mail tidesofmarsh@bellsouth.net.