Saturday, August 25, 2012


I recently visited the cemeteries where most of our family members are buried, where I took pictures of the family grave markers.  I thought it would be good to have a physical record of the interment sites of all of our family who have died.  The picture-taking journey involved three cemeteries. They are 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 third post honoring those who are buried in one of these locations, with this post highlighting our loved ones buried at New Oak Grove Cemetery. 

The cemetery is the property of New Oak Grove Freewill Baptist Church, which is located at 531 New Oak Grove Road, Nauvoo, Alabama, 35578.  Of the three cemeteries mentioned in my trilogy post, New Oak Grove is the newest.  This also means that this cemetery only has graves of those who have died during the past 50 years or so.

This cemetery holds its annual decoration in early spring, on the third Sunday of April.   Being a newer cemetery, Decoration Day at New Oak Grove was not a part of our family’s tradition, as the decorations were at Old Bethel and Bennett cemeteries.  Even today, many come to the New Oak Grove cemetery on Saturday preceding the designated Sunday to place their flowers.

New Oak Grove Cemetery is the resting place for members of both my mother’s family and my father’s family.  Mother’s parents, Clanton and Nancy Manasco, are buried in this cemetery, as well as Mother’s sister, Hazel Manasco Montgomery and her husband, Bill Montgomery.  Mother’s brother, Jack Manasco, and his wife, La Wanda, are also  buried there. The purpose of this post is to highlight only those of the John Wesley Virgil Kilgore lineage and of his wife, our grandmother, Sarah Noles Kilgore.

New Oak Grove Church was the home church for Papa and Granny Kilgore.  In the early days before I was born, a public school met at the church.  All the community events centered around the church and the school. Besides the worship services held twice a month, and the Sunday Schools held every Sunday, there were the annual two -week revivals and the special singing schools held during the summer months.

The church had a strong influence on the lives of Papa Kilgore’s children and grandchildren.  It was the place that some in our family found their spouses.  The church meetings provided a way to court the one who caught one’s eye and captured one’s heart.  Such was the case for Lois Kilgore and Carl McKeever, as well as Cecil Kilgore and Beatrice Manasco.

 New Oak Grove should not be underestimated for the influence the church had on the lives of our family. It was a part of my formative years.  I made a personal commitment to Christ at the church, as did many of the cousins who attended there.  Three Southern Baptist ministers from our family alone can claim New Oak Grove’s influence in their personal lives as children and teenagers. They are Rev. Ron McKeever, Dr. Joe McKeever, and yours truly, Rev. Johnny Kilgore. 

Some family members are active members of the church presently, including my mother, Beatrice E. Kilgore, and the Phelps family members.  The church has been so gracious to the Kilgore Cousins Reunion by allowing us, for the last few years, to hold our family reunion there.  This allowed us to have air conditioning and restroom facilities not presently available at Papa and Granny Kilgore’s farm place location. 

We have dear loved ones who have been buried in the cemetery as recently as this year, 2012.  They are my wonderful father, Cecil Kilgore who died at 91 years of age, and my aunt, Lois Kilgore McKeever who died at  95 years old.  They were the last surviving children of John W. and Sarah Kilgore, our grandparents.  Aunt Lois is buried next to her husband, Carl J. McKeever.  I honor both of these two special loved ones now by showing photographs of their grave markers.

During the last months before Daddy passed away, he talked to me about taking care of his grave’s foot marker.  I think he knew that the time of his death was drawing near.  Daddy told me what he wanted on the marker, and he had me repeat these instructions back to him to make sure it was just as he said. During the week following Daddy’s funeral, I went to the Veterans Administration in Jasper and applied for the bronze foot marker with the wording Daddy asked for.  The VA acted in a very timely manner, and we had the marker within five days.  It was delivered to the Kilgore-Green funeral home, and Pat Schubert Kilgore picked it up and brought it to Mother’s.  There was a problem with the marker however.   Daddy’s birth year was incorrect.  I returned to the VA to have the correction made.   Phone calls were made and additional paper work was submitted for another marker.  It too came back very quickly with the corrections made. My brother Mike picked it up and later I took the marker to a monument place in Carbon Hill, and they attached it to a slab of granite, which Daddy had previously purchased.  With all the problems we had with this marker, I have a special sense of pride that Daddy’s last wishes were carried out.  The end result is the photograph you see now.   


I have featured the location of Granny Kilgore’s grave and that of three of her siblings in my two previous posts.  This post will list the remaining siblings, with the exception of Granny’s oldest sibling, Philena (“Lena”) Viola Roxyann Noles Williams (1870-1938), who is buried at Old Pisgah Cemetery in Carbon Hill, Alabama.  Granny Kilgore has two brothers buried at New Oak Grove.  One of the brothers is William S. Noles, who was born, February 7, 1879 and died July 5, 1972.  His wife, Virgin Morris Noles, is buried next to him.  She was born October 18, 1888 and died June 3, 1971.   They have many of their children buried near by.  For us who are grandchildren of Sarah Noles Kilgore, the William Noles children would be our second cousins.  There are a multiple numbers of gravestones in the New Oak Grove Cemetery where the family name of Noles is inscribed.  Because the purpose of this article is to feature those of Kilgore lineage, these distant cousins’ graves will not be shown.  I honor Granny Kilgore’s brother, William and his wife, by showing a photograph of their grave.

One of Granny Kilgore’s brothers, Claud Noles, who had a home place just down from the church, is the other brother buried at New Oak Grove.   Claud Dabner Noles was born July 1, 1989 and died April 10, 1968.  His wife, Ada L. Manasco Noles, is buried next to him.  Ada was born August 1, 1894 and died April 17, 1977.  I honor Claud and Ada by showing this photograph of their headstone.


As we all know, death is not a respecter of age.  This is truly evident as we have two from our family who died at a rather young age and are buried at New Oak Grove.  My first cousin, Charles Wayne McKeever, better known as Tog when he was a boy, died April 8, 2006.  Tog and I were born the same year, 1944, but he was born nine months earlier than I was, resulting in a year’s difference in school.   He always watched out for me during those formative school years, especially during the time we children changed from attending Poplar Springs Elementary School to attending the much larger Double Springs Elementary School.  Charles was only 62 years old at the time of his death.  I honor him now by displaying a photograph of his headstone.

Within the same family, Charles (Tog) McKeever’s son, Russell Phillip McKeever, died at the young age of 41 on April 22, 1010.  Russell was born September 12, 1968.   I honor him now with a photograph of his gravestone.

New Old Grove Cemetery in the future will be the home of other Kilgore children.  It is the site where my mother will be buried, and where my wife, Pat and I have chosen to be buried.  It is a beautiful site on top of a ridge overlooking the green, lush land below.  

I sign off now as we remember the relatives who are buried at New Oak Grove Cemetery.

Johnny Kilgore    

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