Saturday, August 11, 2012


"Another link is broken in our beloved band.  Another chain is forming in a better land."

Recently my mother, Beatrice  Manasco Kilgore, and I visited the cemeteries where most of our family members are buried: Bennett Cemetery, off of Alabama Highway 195 on Lamon Chapel Road in Walker County; Old Bethel Cemetery near Nauvoo, but in Winston County, Alabama; and New Oak Grove Church Cemetery near Nauvoo.   This is the second of three posts honoring those who are buried in these three sacred sites.  This post spotlights our loved ones buried at Bennett Cemetery.

Bennett Cemetery has been a special burial site for the Kilgore family for years.  It is where our grandparents, John Wesley Virgil Kilgore and Sarah Louiza Martha Tabitha Noles Kilgore are buried. 

Photograph of Papa Virge and Granny Kilgore

I recently wrote about my Uncle Johnie who died in 1939 and my baby brother who died at birth in 1943, both of whom are buried at Bennett Cemetery. That post is found at the following link.

Headstone of Johnie Kilgore

Grave Marker of Infant Son
of Cecil and Beatrice Kilgore

During my childhood years, our annual visit for Decoration Day on the third Sunday in May to Bennett Cemetery was a special day for all the living to honor their loving dead.  But it was more than that.  It was a reunion. 

Some of the Kilgore family on Decoration Day
Granny Kilgore is on the far left

It was a family celebration.  It was a wonderful time when everyone made a special effort to show up, no matter how far they had to travel.   There were the Chadwicks and the McKleroys who lived in Birmingham, Alabama.  There were the Spains who lived near Guntersville, Alabama, There were those who lived in the Muscle Shoals area:  Sis and Jerdy Romans and the Herbert Kilgore family.  The Sherers and the Gordons did not have to travel far because they resided in and around Jasper, Alabama.  And of course, there are the three families who lived close to the old home place: the Grady Kilgore family, the Cecil Kilgore family, and the Carl McKeever family. 

Men and boys dressed up in suits and ties.  The women and girls dressed in their newest dresses, accessorized with hats, purses, and heels.  It truly was the 1950s in every sense of the word.  It’s great to look at some of the old family photographs taken on Decoration Day during that era.   They capture all the fun and meaning of the occasion, but not to the degree it is captured in our memories.  Love of family was in full bloom and displayed by the hugs, handshakes, and playful conversation throughout the day.  Beautiful flower sprays rested on the graves in vibrant colors of reds, purples, pinks, yellows, and greens.  In the early days, many of the flowers were “homemade,” taking hours to create and then designed into extraordinary wreaths to make more beautiful the cemetery grounds.

Since those early days, we have seen more and more family members buried in Bennett Cemetery.  It is a beautiful cemetery that is maintained through a trust.  The tombstones are perfectly aligned, and the grounds are well kept.   Though it is a small country cemetery, it is maintained to the same degree that many larger city cemeteries are.  We are fortunate that many of our loved ones are buried in a community near the old home place, and in such a serene setting.  I heard Daddy say one time that Papa Kilgore would have probably chosen to be buried at New Oak Grove Church if there had been a cemetery at the time of his death.  Personally, I think there is a wonderful cohesiveness in the fact that he is buried in the same cemetery as his parents. 

Papa Virge Kilgore's Father and Mother, William (Bill) and Cordelia
Photograph taken in 1906

The oldest family members buried in Bennett Cemetery are Papa Virge Kilgore’s father, mother, and stepmother.  They are buried in the older section of the grounds.  The first to die was Papa Kilgore’s mother, Cordelia Townley Kilgore.  Papa Virge was 38 years old when his mother died. She died in 1912 at the age of 60 years old.  Papa Virge Kilgore’s father remarried after Cordelia’s death to a much younger woman, Alice Kilgore.  Alice was 32 years her husband’s junior, which meant that she was three and half years younger than Papa Kilgore.  She died in March 1931 at the age of 47 years old.  Papa Virge’s father, William (“Bill”) Malcolm Kilgore died 5 months later on the 12th of August 1931.   He was 79 years old when he died.   In their honor I show photographs of their gravestones.

Headstone of William (Bill) Kilgore
Newer Foot Marker for William Kilgore


Headstone for Cordelia Kilgore
Newer Added Foor Marker
of Cordelia Kilgore

Headstone for Alice Kilgore
Newer Added Footstone of Alice Kilgore

I have already mentioned the patriarch and matriarch of our family, John Wesley Kilgore and Sarah Noles Kilgore.  Papa Kilgore died on Christmas Day in 1949.  He was a hard working resourceful gentleman, highly respected by all.  I can recall his body lying in state in their farmhouse home.  A great deal of living took place in that home after Papa Kilgore died, as children and grandchildren lived or stayed overnight with Granny Kilgore from 1950 until her death in 1963.  Granny died the 2nd of February 1963 in the home of Carl and Lois McKeever, two days prior to her 80th birthday.  There are many  memories and stories from those care-giving moments from all those who stayed with Granny through the years.  In honor of Papa and Granny Kilgore, I show a photograph of their tombstone now.

Head Gravestone of our Papa and Granny Kilgore

 Now there are children and spouses who are laid to rest in Bennett Cemetery who were alive in the 50s and were active participants of those early decoration days.  We certainly miss them all.  In their honor I show photographs of their gravestones now.

There is Lou Etta (“Sis”) Kilgore Romans, born October 31, 1906.  Sis died April 10, 1986.

Head Gravestone for Aunt Sis

There is  youngest of Papa and Granny Kilgore's children, Lorene Kilgore McKleroy, born December 29, 1923. Lorene  died July 18, 2007.  Her husband, Ordis died March 7, 2012.  He was born January 22, 1923. 

Head Gravestone for Papa Kilgore's youngest,
Lorene and her husband, Ordis McKleroy

What many of us may not know is that all of Papa Kilgore’s siblings are buried at Bennett Cemetery, with the exception of Uncle George (wife’s name was Tula) and Uncle Fred.  In addressing my great aunts and great uncles, I would preface their first names with the title of aunt or uncle.   There was Aunt Timmie, Aunt Creel, Aunt Minnie, Aunt Cora, and Uncle George.  

Visiting any of Papa Kilgore’s siblings was not a frequent happening. But when we did, I knew it was something special because of their warm welcome.  I honor those siblings and their spouses now, as I show you the photographs of their tombstones.

First there is Papa Kilgore’s oldest sister, Timmie Scott Kilgore Bennett.  Aunt Timmie was born in 1877 and died in 1961.  She is buried next to her first husband, Tildon Jones Bennett, who was born in 1877 and died 1909.  I recall Aunt Timmie being one spunky tiny individual who loved to dip her snuff.  I just loved to be around her because she was a loving person and very gifted.  I can recall her making rugs by hand out of old fabric scraps.  They were beautiful throw rugs.  Aunt Timmie loved life.  Thinking of her now reminds me of the character Granny in the Beverly Hillbillies television show.   Aunt Timmie was short in stature, but a giant of a lady—bubbly and full of life.   She had a very distinctive vibrant voice.

Headstone of Papa Kilgore's sister,
Timmie Scott Bennett

Minnie Lee Kilgore Lawson was born July 18, 1884 and died October 27, 1952.  She was married to John Richard Lawson, Jess Lawson’s brother.  Richard was born November 10, 1878 and died July 1941.  It might be interesting to note that Richard and Minnie married March 2, 1902 at her parents’ home in Walker County, Alabama. 

Headstone of Papa Kilgore's sister,
Minnie Lawson
Headstone of Minnie's husband,
Richard Lawson

Papa Kilgore’s sister, our Aunt Creel, was born in 1889 and died in 1969.  She is buried next to her husband, George H. Short, our Uncle Homer.  Homer was born in 1884 and died in 1956. I can vividly recall the Poplar Springs Grocery, which was owned and operated by Aunt Creel and Uncle Homer.

Head Tombstone for Aunt Creel and Uncle Homer

Foot Marker of Papa Kilgore's sister,
Creelie Short (Aunt Creel)
Foot Marker for Aunt Creel's husband,
Homer Short

The last sibling buried at Bennett Cemetery is one of three brothers Papa Kilgore had.  Milner C. Kilgore was born February 18, 1891 and died October 15, 1964.  His wife, our Aunt Cora, is buried next to him.  Cora was born August 22, 1895 and died October 26, 1979.

Head Gravesteon for Papa Virge Kilgore's brother,
Uncle Milner and his wife, Aunt Cora

Some of the older Kilgore cousins may have some memorable stories of Papa Virge Kilgore’s brothers and sisters.  It would be wonderful if they could be shared for our legacy’s sake.  I do know that all were strong in character, conservative in their way of life, and deep in their devotion to each other and their God. 

Johnny Kilgore

1 comment:

  1. I remember when Aunt Timmie would come and stay a week or two with Granny Kilgore. She would always drink a cup of warm water in the mornings. She said this was cleansing to one's system and you would start the day better by doing this and waiting about 30 minutes before eating breakfast.

    Aunt Timmie had few, if any, gray hairs and she said this was because of the Indian blood in her. I believe it was 1/4 but not sure.