Clapp Cemetery in Columbus, GA
- Kemis S. Massey
1708 Preston Drive
Columbus, GA 31906
My name is Kemis Massey and I am one of the story tellers of my family. That is one of many names that today's genealogist are called. I have researched my family history for more than 7 years. A little over a year ago I discovered a site on the internet www.Rootsweb.com and a project that they have sponsored free USGenWeb Project. This project allows the average person a place to go to search, share, and find their individual roots. Anyone can submit info to state and county web pages, maintained by individuals
throughout the United States. Through this project there are as many email lists that allow individuals to send messages in hopes that someone is searching for the same family.
One such list is for Muscogee County. Some months back a lady shared with the list "After 137 years, we have located and marked the Grave of our Confederate Ancestor Jacob S. Skipper at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond VA." She went on to tell us that Jacob Skipper's wife, Mary Catherine Skipper was buried in Clapp Cemetery and that the cemetery had been desecrated and obliterated from the banks of the Chattahoochee. Since I grew up in Columbus, I didn't remember of a cemetery being on the Chattahoochee so I ask around. Eventually I was pointed in the direction of Oliver Dam and located what's left of the cemetery.
In the 1820's - 1830's Clapp Factory was built on the banks of the Chattahoochee River. It was the first factory in Columbus. Over the years a Clapp Village was built - it was where the north bridge now located. At a some point a cemetery was started in what once was covering 5 acres. Supposedly there is also an American Indian burial area located close to the Clapp Cemetery. Buried in the cemetery are slaves, confederate soldiers, and the poor workers of the Clapp Factory, people who could be easily forgotten. Except that they have families out there looking for them.
The link under my address above has been set up in the last few weeks so that anyone interested can view some of the things we have identified about the cemetery. There are a few photos of the current condition of the cemetery. There are links to articles about the Clapp Factory, Village and Cemetery. There are links to sites set up by other individuals who have at one time or another had to fight for either the right to visit their ancestors or keep their cemeteries from being destroyed. Please feel free to look around (I'm not sure whether you have to actually join to look around. But you could unsubscribe after you've looked).
As it turns out the Clapp Cemetery was purchased by Georgia Power in the 1920's. Apparently there wasn't any stipulations as for the care of the cemetery so nothing has been done to preserve it. At one time there was a fence surrounding it but over the years it either rotted away or was torn down. There are no official records of the cemetery. However, in the genealogy section of the Bradley Library there are several books by various people who over many years did physical survey's. There are others who through family history have various records or found funeral homes with records showing persons buried in the cemetery.
I have sent emails to every email list that I belong to, last count 51 and have had good response. The problem is the cemetery needs to be cleaned. Georgia Power says it's the families responsibility. Okay given that, it's going to take the help of the community to accomplish this task. I have 5 minutes at the Boy Scouts Round table meeting on the 5th of September to ask if there is an Eagle Scout or any Troops willing to do the cleaning as a community project. There is a SCV group that will assist with the confederate graves. We still need many more to volunteer their time for this project.
One more thing, did I mention that exact location of this old cemetery? If you go to Oliver Marina and take the road to the Riverwalk. Approximately 5 - 7 light poles on the right is a path through to the river. When you get to the end of the path you can see the valley below and the dam to the right. Turn around and the cemetery starts there. The first thing that you will see as you walk through the weeds is shingles. The rest of the cemetery is the forest you see. There are only a few graves that are actually still visible.
Is there any way that the city of Columbus could assist in cleaning the cemetery. Please let me know if there is anything that you can do to help me, help these family members see their ancestors buried in a decent place. While it is true that many of the descendants don't live here, many of them have visited Columbus on several occasions to find their own history and found the jungle at the Clapp.
As I close this email, I'm going to sign it as I do all of my genealogy related emails.
Happy family hunting,
Researching: Duke, Evans, Hickey, Mays, Rosamond, Songer, and Camp for me
Researching: Brooks, Chambers, Massey, Fountain, and Smith for my hubbie
and Clapp Cemetery in Columbus, GA for preservation purposes
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