Mt. Herman Cemetery & the old Mt. Herman Baptist Church -- Sumter County, AL
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The old MT. HERMAN BAPTIST CHURCH was located on what is now County Road 19 or Millville Road in extreme west central Sumter County, AL, specifically Sec 12 T 18 R 4 W. Built in the 1830's as a log church (with slave labor), the church building was 100 feet long with unpieced heart pine beams running the length of the church. The boards were 8 inches to 2 feet wide, and the building was 55 feet wide. It could seat 500, and reports say that it was "always full on Sunday". The church also had a separate slave section, and the main part of the church was separated by an aisle that ran down the middle from the front entrance. Among its founders were these families: the McGowens, Wheelers, Sanders, Cobbs, Lancasters, Leards, and others.
A frame church building was built about 1854, and the log building was later torn down to make more space for the cemetery. The church disbanded sometime after 1890. On August 24, 1908, it was reorganized, and Nancy "Nannie" Cameron was one of the new members. They were: John Dial, J.J. Gooden, Henry L. Wheeler, Mrs. Fannie Dial, Mrs. Nannie Cameron, Mrs. Ollie Bond, Mrs. Lyda McGowen, Mrs. Alma McGowen, Mrs. Erma Lancaster, Miss Colon Campbell, and Miss Mary M. Lancaster. The last recorded service for this church was May 19, 1918. The building burned in a forest fire in 1933, and the church literally ceased to exist from that point.
Below is a census of the graves in MT. HERMAN CEMETERY taken May 2, 2007. This cemetery is located about 6 miles north of York on the right side of Millville Road (also known as the Country Club Road and County Road 19. The cemetery is before the large blue Sumter County water tower that's very obvious in the curve up ahead on the hill.
This Mt. Herman Cemetery is not to be confused with the cemetery at what is now Mt. Herman Church, belonging to a black congregation and located on the left side of the road heading north from York. That church and cemetery are not located where the original Mt. Herman Church, School, and Cemetery were located.
There is a sign marking the cemetery, although it incorrectly spells Herman as Hermon. The cemetery sits adjacent to what is marked as the Smith's Chapel Cemetery, which contains black graves. Smith's Chapel was closed to future burials as of 2006. Immediately past the Smith's Chapel sign is a dirt trail on the same side of the road. There is a locked gate there, but it can be accessed on foot. Follow the trail up the hill into the woods to the cemetery.
This old Mt Herman Cemetery is separated from the Smith's Chapel side by only a very small metal fence row and lots of trees and bushes. In fact, from the Smith's Chapel side, you might not even see the Mt Herman side.
It is difficult to arrange this layout by row, as many of the graves are staggered. However, beginning at the far back right corner, the graves are read left to right and numbered as closely in that order as possible. The cemetery faces the woods behind the cemetery. It must be noted that throughout the cemetery, there are multiple "stones" which presumably mark locations for either lost or future graves. Indications are made below for the beginning of a "row" as best as it can be labeled.
Labeled as such: Grave Number, Name, Date of Birth, Date of Death, other information.
1, Mary Cobb, 6-11-1808, 10-29-1889, tall marker
2, Ella Mae Harry, 10-10-1872, 9/19/1902, dm with Robert Lee Harry
3, Robert Lee Harry, 1-23-1868, 2/16/1904, dm with Ella Mae Harry
4, Sarah Winn Kent, 5-16-1854, 7/24/1934, off base and lying flat
5, Nancy Ann Kent, 4-9-1812, 4-20-1896
6, Francis Marion Harry, 3-26-1883, 10-3-1875
7, Nancy Emma Royal, 2-24-1866, 5-20-1899
8, Viola Royal, 11-12-1895, 8/10/1902
9, Annie Elizabeth Lancaster, 1-24-1873, 5-1-1875, dates no longer visible, name barely legible
10, ?, -, -, un-marked slab encased with a concrete border & beginning to sink in
11, Ella Lynn, 9-1-1854, 11-3-1873
12, M.W. Lynn, 11-19-1819, 3-2-1867, broken and lying flat
13, James Lynn, 2-2-1861, 8-16-1865, very difficult to read
14, Ernest W. Cobb, 8-14-1896, 2-5-1897, Inf son of F.M. & M.B. Cobb, orig list says Earnest Cobb
15, Dora Kay, 1818, 1878, small slab 2ft x 4 ft, almost illegible, Is Kay the last name?
16, John R. Lancaster, Sr., 4-5-1878, 7/6/1961, "father"
17, J.W. Lancaster, 9-10-1880, 7/18/1953, "brother"
18, James Edwin Lancaster, 12-29-1840, 3/17/1925, "father", PVT Co. C 54th Alabama Regiment Infantry CSA
19, Sarah A. Gregory, 1-10-1804, 7-1-1879, born Orange County Virginia, broken & barely legible, footstone with SAG still there
20, Louvenia Leard, 9-16-1820, 9-18-1895, wife of J.O. Leard, age 75 years, broken, replaced with new dm with James O.
21, James O. Leard, 1817, 5/10/1905, age 88 years, broken, replaced with dm with Louvenia, but reversed on new dm
22, J.T. Lancaster, 9-13-1868, 11/8/1940, "father", Graves # 22 - 30 are in a chain link fence together.
23, Ozella F. Lancaster, 8-7-1869, 2/8/1958, "mother", There are also several large stone "markers" inside this fence. Graves?
24, James L. Lancaster, 6/12/1910, 8/19/1988, "son"
25, Snoppie, -, -, (a pet?), no other names or dates on the small square marker
26, John William (Lancaster), 2/23/1904, 6/4/1925, "brother", orig list says J.W.L. son of J.T. & Ozella died 1925 age 21
27, Infant son (Lancaster), 12-9-1892, 12-9-1892, son of J.T. & O.F. Lancaster, new marker replaces broken with both #27&28 on it
28, Daisey Ozella (Lancaster), 12-19-1897, 11-22-1898, dau JT&OF Lancaster, new marker replaces broken, broken one has Daisy O.
29, Catherine Eualine (Lancaster), 7/20/1906, 1/17/1906, not on original list
30, Jessie Marie (Lancaster), 11/17/1907, 7/19/1909, not on original list
31, Mary Maud Bennett, 9-25-1895, 9/9/1909
32, Willie Gambrel, 10-19-1868, 11-10-1884, son of W.T. & Ann Gambrel, orig list just says Willie
33, prob. Agnes C. Lancaster, -, -, All 4 of these concrete slabs are together with no names or dates on any of them.
34, prob. Lucy A. Lancaster, -, -, Agnes and Lucy are known to be 2 of them. The other 2 are assumed to be
35, prob. Sarah M. Lancaster, -, -, Sarah and Talitha, according to the original list.
36, prob. Talitha Ann Elizabeth Lancaster, -, -
37, Minnie Lancaster, 8-20-1887, 7-3-1895, dau of T.F. & L.A. Lancaster, original list just says Minnie
38, Mary F. Dial, 3-14-1848, 12/17/1920, dm with John Dial, Graves 38-40 are in a concrete border together.
39, John Dial, 11-27-1843, 12/28/1925, dm with Mary F. Dial
40, Henry Clinton Bond, 11-24-1890, 10/24/1900, son of E.C. & Ollie Bond
41, Edwin C. Bond, 8-20-1867, 11/21/1930, Graves 41&42 are in a concrete border together.
42, Ollie Dial Bond, 3-5-1870, 2/25/1958
43, Ora Wheeler, 2/13/1925, 2/19/1925, Inf dau of H.L. & Irene Wheeler
44, Oscar T. Bond, 4-2-1893, 9/10/1963, has brick border around it
45, A.J. Sanders, 1-6-1828, 12-27-1864, by old tree stump
46, Martha A. Cobb, 4-27-1855, 11-15-1884, by old tree stump, wife of I.M. Cobb, born in Sumter Co. Ala., orig just says Martha A.
47, Tresa C. Cobb, 8-20-1863, 11-15-1885, by old tree stump, wife of I.M. Cobb, orig just says Tresa C., facing wrong direction
48, Amanda C. Burton, 5-28-1845, 12/14/1901, dm with Jefferson C. Burton, large white marker
49, Jefferson C. Burton, 4-27-1839, 1/10/1902, dm with Amanda C. Burton, large white marker
50, Nancy Cameron, 12-3-1858, 10/28/1937, Graves 50&51 are in brick border together
51, Nathaniel Cameron, 10-22-1852, 11/6/1911
52, Mildred McDonald, 7/6/1905, 6/18/1906, dau of Walter & Pearl McDonald
53, Jack Bond, Jr., 8/1/1950, 8/1/1950, son of Elizabeth & Jack Bond, has brick border around it
54, L.C. Bell, 1-29-1836, 11-20-1868, born in Marlboro District of S. Carolina, 32 yrs 9 mo 22 days, very large marker very badly broken, lying flat in pieces, mostly illegible
55, ?, -, -, metal funeral home marker, rusted, with no name or date left
56, Lifus Ezell, -, 8/24/1912, age 44 years
?, Here there is what looks like a footstone marker with the initials S.L. on it. There is no grave stone or any other indication of a grave here.
57, James Edward Wheeler, 10/3/1923, 10/4/1923, son of I.S. & Marie Wheeler
58, Geneva L. Wheeler, 10/8/1930, 10/9/1930, Inf dau of E.L. & Eunice Wheeler, not on original list
59, E.L. Wheeler, 2-28-1873, 4/6/1940, Graves 59&60 are in a brick border together.
60, Lottie B. Wheeler, 3-8-1873, 3/19/1952, wife of E.L. Wheeler
61, Edwin "Shug" McGowen, 5/31/1916, 8/26/1994, Graves 61-64 are in a concrete border together.
62, Thad C. McGowen, 10/21/1908, 5/12/1979
63, Betty McGowen Wells, 1903, 1961, on orig. list as Betty M. Wells Stallings
64, Jessie Lee McGowen, 5-12-1883, 6/12/1961, "mother"
65, William F. McGowen, 10-26-1846, 4/11/1931, PVT Co. K 16th Regt. Ala. Cav. Confederate States of America
66, Joseph W. McGowen, 1873, -, dm with Lida McGowen
67, Lida McGowen, 5-17-1881, -, dm with Joseph W. McGowen, married 5-5-1897
68, Mary A. McGowen (DeWitt), 3-23-1848, 7-17-1889, on orig as Mary A. (Mary Ann McGowen) wife of J. (Joel) L. DeWitt broken in half and propped, facing wrong direction
69, R.J. McGowen, 7-1-1839, 10-22-1886, husband of S.A. McGowen, facing wrong direction
70, Nancy McGowen, 10-22-1818, 7-29-1899, wife of J.C. McGowen, facing wrong direction
71, J.C. McGowen, 1-13-1813, 2/9/1900, husband of Nancy McGowen, facing wrong direction
72, Mary A. Kittrell, 2-17-1874, 9/27/1900, wife of J.M. Kittrell, facing wrong direction, on orig just as Mary A.
73, Velma McGowen, 10/2/1902, 9/6/1904, Inf dau of Joseph W. & Lida McGowen, shaped like a cross on a hill
74, Fannie Florence McGowen, 1922, 1925, not on original list
75, Willard Lawrence McGowen, 1922, 1925, not on original list
76, ?, -, -, metal funeral home marker with no name or date left, inside brick border
77, Erma Lee McGowen, 2/16/1935, 3-22-19--, death year is illegible
?, Here there are some bricks like the ones at #78. Is it a grave?
78, ?, -, -, no marker at all, newer grave with dirt mound & old flowers still there
79, Roy Edward Rainer, 4/1/1919, 9/25/1997, metal funeral home marker with name & dates, no grave stone
80, Rufus Lamar Rainer, 11-24-1893, 5/19/1936
81, Minnie L. Rainer, 9/30/1915, 3/17/1986, metal funeral home marker still there, too. It has name as Minnie McKissick Rainer
82, Fred Rainer, 12/29/1916, 5/17/1969, slab, Alabama SFC US Army Res. WW II Korea
?, Here there are some bricks like the ones at #78, and with flowers. Is it a grave?
83, Maggie McGowen Rainer, 2-2-1892, 3/25/1958, slab, not on original list
?, Here there are more stones and bricks. Is it a grave or just a marker for a future spot?
As of the first census in Jud Arrington's book, Public Cemeteries of Sumter County, Alabama 1834-1972, there were only 65 graves in this cemetery. Nearly 20 more people were buried here over the next 35 years.
NOTE: There are 2 graves in the black cemetery next to this one that have Leards in them. Because of the Leard connections above, I've included them here, too:
It can be assumed that these were slaves of some of the Leard family.
1, Sam Leard, -, 9-17-1896, aged about 77 years, no birth date on marker
2, Clara Leard, -, -, aged about 65 years, no dates at all on marker